What started a couple months ago, I am ready to wrap up. This is the culmination of the rankings at each position group for each AFC West team. Last year’s proved to be pretty accurate, so let’s do it again.
Best offense: Oakland Raiders
The Raiders were tops at several positions including quarterback, wide receiver, and, as you might expect, every position on the offensive line. Last year the Raiders had the league’s 6th ranked offense and arguably the best offensive line in all of football with All Pro Kelechi Osemele along with Pro Bowlers Donald Penn and Rodney Hudson. Gabe Jackson’s pretty damn good too, as evidenced by his new contract making him the league’s third highest paid guard.
Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree make up the top trio in the division, but at 31 and after a year off, I’m not quite ready to say Marshawn Lynch will outperform Melvin Gordon as the division’s top back.
Runner up: Los Angeles Chargers
The aforementioned Melvin Gordon at the running back spot was the only position the Chargers took the top spot, but they were runners up at quarterback and tight end. Philip Rivers has a nice looking duo of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry to throw to. They also have a talented and deep group of receivers. Their skill position players are good enough to overcome having the division’s worst offensive line.
Second runner up: Kansas City Chiefs
Like the Chargers, the Chiefs only took the top spot at one position. It was tight end where All Pro Travis Kelce tears up opponents. The Chiefs also had the division’s second best offensive line behind the Raiders. Having the worst wide receiver corps again really hurts them.
Dead last: Denver Broncos
Still having their quarterback issues. Former first round pick Paxton Lynch is so bad he can’t beat out Trevor Siemian and the team is bringing back Brock Osweiler. If that wasn’t bad enough, they also have the division’s worst running backs, tight end and tackles.
Best defense: Denver Broncos
Once again, the Broncos have the division’s top defense. They have the division’s top defensive interior, linebackers, and corners. Their edge rushers are second only to the Raiders, but having Von Miller means that ranking doesn’t matter much. It may as well be 1 and 1a between he and Khalil Mack.
Runner up: Kansas City Chiefs
Eric Berry puts the Chiefs safety position atop the mountain in the division practically all by himself. Then the Chiefs fared well in every other position. The only position they were last was edge rusher, but that is only because there is such a ridiculous number of elite pass rushers in the division. Justin Houston and Dee Ford are a damn fine duo.
Second runner up: Los Angeles Chargers
The only position in which they were the highest ranked was nose tackle where Brandon Mebane clogs up the middle of the line. They also have a nice couple of corners in Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett. And though they’re third at edge rusher, the duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram would top a lot of divisions in football. Just not this one.
Dead last: Oakland Raiders
With a bullet. As was proven last year, edge rusher was the only thing this defense had going for it. With Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin on the edges, putting up sacks and forcing turnovers, they were able to mask some of their deficiencies. They’ll need to do that again with the division’s worst nose tackle, defensive interior, linebacking corps, and cornerbacks.
Most talented overall:
1. Oakland Raiders
How good is that offense? This good. It’s good enough to make up for the serious faults on the defense. Whether it will be enough to get them anywhere in the playoffs will be another story, but it should be good enough to take the division. They will stay ahead of teams enough to put them in desperation mode which will lead to mistakes and turnovers. And who knows, maybe the addition of John Pagano will improve the secondary. We haven’t seen it yet, but it could happen.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
This piece last year put the Chiefs atop the division. And they lived up to that placement. They were a well balanced team last year with a very good offense and defense, but not the best on either side of the ball. That is the case again, but they won’t dominate the Raiders and Chargers this year like the did in 2016.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
A new city with a new coach will have uncertain effects on this very talented team. On the other hand, being healthy will go a long way to raising their standing. Based purely on the talent on both sides of the ball, I think they are as good or better than the Chiefs. It’s strong coaching and special teams (yes, special teams) that have the Chiefs edging them out in the division rankings.
4. Denver Broncos
They fell out of the playoffs last year and I see them falling even farther this year. That offense is putrid, the defense will still be good, but it isn’t the same group that carried them to a Super Bowl a couple years ago. They also have a new head coach which comes with uncertainty.