2019 NFL Predictions: AFC West

Now it’s time to take a look at probably one of the most interesting divisions in the NFL thanks to Oakland Raiders newest star WR Antonio Brown. Why does he make it interesting? Well let’s see…

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“0 Kansas City Chiefs Justin Houston – San Diego Chargers Philip Rivers” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed by public domain

Antonio Brown made a name for himself as one of the biggest Diva WRs in the NFL.  He asked for a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers and he got his wish and will now join the Oakland Raiders.  But he wants to be able to use the same helmet that he has been over the last 10 years of his career,  that’s not going to happen. 

What else is not going to happen? How about Los Angeles Chargers RB’ Melvin Gordon playing this year? Or maybe it’s Kansas City Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes not having as good of a season as he did last year. But can the Denver Broncos defense lead them to success?

Let’s find out where each of the teams from the AFC West will finish the season!

1. Los Angeles Chargers: 

Last season’s record: 12-4

Postseason Result: Beat Baltimore Ravens (23-17) in Wild Card, Lost to New England Patriots (41-28) in Divisional round.

Off-season Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • DT Brandon Mebane
  • WR Dontrelle Inman (Indianapolis)
  • QB Tyrod Taylor (Cleveland) 
  • OLB Thomas Davis (Carolina)

Draft: 

  • DT Jerry Tillery (28th)
  • S Nasir Adderley (60th)
  • T Trey Pipkins (91th)

Off-season Departures: 

  • Retired OLB Kyle Emanuel
  • DT Darius Philon (Arizona)
  • CB Jason Verrett (San Francisco)
  • S Jahleel Addae (Houston)
  • WR Tyrell Williams and DT Corey Liuget (Oakland)

The Big Question: 

Can the Chargers play as well as they did last year to earn themselves another playoff spot? Can they actually make noise in the playoffs? Does their season depend on the decision of Melvin Gordon and whether or not he’ll lift his holdout and return to the team?

I think the Chargers have found a way to win several games without Gordon and they will continue to do that. The schedule isn’t as easy as it looks,  but the Chargers defense could do what they can to keep it close for QB Phillip Rivers to have MVP moments and win games.

Prediction: 12-4

2. Kansas City Chiefs:

 Last season’s record: 12-4

Postseason Result: Beat the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round (31-13), lost to New England in the AFC Conference Championships (37-31).

Off-season Acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • WR De’Anthony Thomas 
  • FB Anthony Sherman 
  • QB Matt Moore 
  • G Jeff Allen 
  • DE Frank Clark (Traded from Seattle)
  • CB Morris Claiborne (N.Y. Jets)
  • S Tyrann Mathieu (Houston)
  • DE Alex Okafor (New Orleans)
  • OLB Damien Wilson (Dallas)
  • RB Carlos Hyde (Jacksonville)
  • DB Bashaud Breeland (Green Bay)

Draft: 

  • WR Mecole Hardman (56th)
  • S Juan Thornhill (63th)
  • DT Khalen Saunders (84th)
  • RB Darwin Thompson (214th)
  • OG Nick Allegretti (216th)

Off-season Departures:

  • Retired ILB Derrick Johnson
  • Retired RB Jamaal Charles 
  • DE Dee Ford (Traded to San Francisco)
  • S Eric Berry (Free Agent)
  • C Mitch Morse (Buffalo)
  • CB Steven Nelson (Pittsburgh)
  • TE Demetrius Harris and RB Kareem Hunt (Cleveland) 
  • DE Justin Houston and RB Spencer Ware (Indianapolis)

The Big Question: 
I think that the Chiefs could possibly win the division again and make a lot of noise in the playoffs, but this division has gotten tougher and it’s going to be interesting to see how the Chiefs can handle it. 

Will it be a repeat of last year’s MVP  by QB Patrick Mahomes? Can the Chiefs defense help them not have so many shoot outs this season. How will Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu help the Chiefs defense? Can rookie WR Mecole Hardman have a huge role in the offense alongside Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce?

I think the offense is going to have another solid year and Mahomes will be a top candidate for MVP again. And the defense will step up in big moments of the game this season.

Prediction: 11-5

3. Denver Broncos: 

 Last season’s record: 6-12

Postseason Result: N/A

Off-season Acquisitions:

Signed: 

  • TE Jeff Heuerman
  • QB Kevin Hogan
  • WR Tim Patrick
  • QB Joe Flacco (Traded from Baltimore)
  • CB Kareem Jackson (Houston)
  • CB Bryce Callahan (Chicago)
  • RT Ja’Wuan James and C Jake Brendel (Miami)

Draft: 

  • TE Noah Fant (20th)
  • OT Dalton Risner (41st)
  • QB Drew Lock (42nd)
  • DE Dre’Mont Jones (71st)
  • DE Justin Hollins (156th)

Off-season Departures:

  • Retired CB Adam-Pacman Jones
  • QB Case Keenum (Traded to Washington)
  • C Matt Paradis (Carolina)
  • CB Bradley Roby (Houston)
  • TE Matt LaCosse (New England)
  • FS Darian Stewart and LB Shaquil Barrett (Tampa Bay)

The Big Question:
Speaking of big moments by the defense, we could expect that the Broncos defense will once again be the top of the NFL.  When a longtime defensive assistant gets the head coaching job for the first time,  you know he’ll be out to prove he deserves it. 

This coach is Vic Fangio and we have see him do big things the careers of  some great football talents like what he did with Chicago’s Khalil Mack last season. Look for second year player Bradley Chubb to have a huge season on defense this year. 

That’s why I say it might be a tough season for the AFC West.  Not only will Broncos defense improve m,  but they have better chance on offense as long as QB Joe Flacco continues to get the chemistry with the WRs like Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton. Let’s see how things go for the Broncos this year.

Prediction: 9-7

4. Oakland Raiders: 

 Last season’s record: 4-12

Postseason Result: N/A

Off-season Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • WR Antonio Brown (Traded From Pittsburgh)
  • LT Trent Brown (New England)
  • WR Tyrell Williams and DT Corey Liuget (L.A. Chargers)
  • S LaMarcus Joyner (L.A. Rams)
  • OLB Vontaze Burfict (Cincinnati)
  • WR J.J. Nelson (Arizona)
  • QB Mike Glennon (Tampa Bay)
  • G Richie Incognito (Buffalo) 
  • RB Isaiah Crowell (N.Y. Jets) 
  • ILB Brandon Marshall (Denver) 

Draft: 

  • DE Clelin Ferrell (4th) 
  • RB Josh Jacobs (24th)
  • S Johnathan Abram (27th)
  • CB Trayvon Mullen (40th)
  • DE Maxx Crosby (106)
  • CB Isaiah Johnson (129th)
  • TE Foster Moreau (137th)
  • WR Hunter Renfrow (149th)

Off-season Departures:

  • G Kelechi Osemele (Traded to N.Y. Jets)
  • Retired WR Jordy Nelson
  • WR Seth Roberts (Baltimore)
  • RT Donald Penn (Washington)
  • QB AJ McCarron (Houston)
  • K Eddy Piniero (Chicago)

The Big Question:
The Raiders traded away two big players (Khalil Mack to Chicago and Amari Cooper to Dallas) last season because of the contract extensions,  but now we have a completely new looking offense.

The defense is different too, but we all know that the focus will be around the Raiders offense and how well WR Antonio Brown and RB Josh Jacobs play together with QB Derek Carr. I actually expect to see big things from the Raiders offense this year.  I like Shay they have put together.  Even with Darren Waller at TE,  Carr has plenty of weapons for success,  but they just have to find success on defense.

I have them finishing last because they have the weakest defense in the division and we’ll have to watch them grow as the season comes along, especially the rookies that they drafted in the first round like Ferrell and Abram.

Prediction: 6-10

Predicted Division Standings:
  1. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
  3. Denver Broncos (9-7) 
  4. Oakland Raiders (6-10)
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