How The Teams Stand – AFC West


Kansas City Chiefs
2017 Record: 10-6 (Lost to Titans in AFC Wild Card game)
Free Agents Signed: WR Sammy Watkins, ILB Anthony Hitchens
Cap Space Remaining: Around $7m
Draft Needs: CB, DL, OL

A lot rests on Patrick Mahomes shoulders.

Having sent star cornerback Marcus Peters to the free-spending LA Rams for a fraction of his worth, and put all their eggs in Patrick Mahomes’ basket, it could be argued that the Kansas City Chiefs have the most rebuilding to do out of any of the four franchises in this division. Losing Alex Smith to Washington and signing Chad Henne as a backup is all well and good, but Mahomes is yet to win a regular season game and Henne is not good. Add to that the fact that Kansas has limited remaining spending money, and you might think that this is a team destined to struggle. However, the signing of Sammy Watkins gives Mahomes arguably one of the most explosive offences in the league. And, with Andy Reid still in place as head coach and chief play-caller, you can expect them to barely miss a beat. I would expect that the Chiefs select a cornerback early in the draft, and then set the rest of the team up to be able to beat teams in offensive shootouts throughout the season.

Los Angeles Chargers
2017 Record: 9-7 (Missed out on the playoffs by thiiiiiiiis much)
Free Agents Signed: C Mike Pouncey
Cap Space Remaining: Around $12m
Draft Needs: ILB, DT, OL


Keenan Allen is as reliable at WR as he was before all his injuries.

The LA Chargers just barely missed out on the playoffs by virtue of bottling it the same way they manage every season, and surely this season they are built to get there. But then we say that every year, too. Philip Rivers has seemingly been given the cast around him that he needs to succeed, with Melvin Gordon turning into a top 15 RB, and Keenan Allen as reliable at WR as he was before all his injuries. The potential loss of Antonio Gates (although still a free agent) could prove costly, although, in Hunter Henry, the Chargers have a ready-made replacement for the future Hall of Famer. The defence is where the Chargers will surely continue to shine, as the pass rush duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram continue to terrify opposing O-Lines, it would seem sensible to upgrade at DT through the draft, which seems most likely in order to get the Chargers back to the post-season.

Oakland Raiders
2017 Record: 6-10
Free Agents Signed: OLB Tahir Whitehead, WR Jordy Nelson
Cap Space Remaining: Around $3m
Draft Needs: CB, S, ILB


Tokyo Bowl NFL Preseason
Raiders coach John Gruden has taken his team back to the 90s.

Under the leadership of once-again-Oakland Head Coach Jon Gruden, the Raiders seem to have reverted to a team of the mid-1990s, with Gruden proclaiming such things as not believing in data analysis, and getting rid of anyone who isn’t considered a good, pure, football man. This included the cutting of arguably the best (and most entertaining) punter in the league, Marquette King. For the sake of $3m, Gruden has lost his best field position asset to a division rival. However, that is going to be the least of his worries when he realises that not a single player on this team managed to nab more than 2 interceptions last season. To put that into perspective, all six Jags players who registered an interception managed at least 3. The Raiders are straight up garbage on the back end and should take a cornerback or safety in the first round if they don’t want to be humiliated by every team they play next season.

Denver Broncos
2017 Record: 5-11
Free Agents Signed: QB Case Keenum, P Marquette King
Cap Space Remaining: Around $15m
Draft Needs: OL, CB, RB


Case Keenum could play a big role for the Broncos this year.

Despite signing a QB who made it to the NFC Championship Game last season, the Broncos still have question marks over that position, especially when it comes to having a backup. In an ideal world, Case Keenum will be able to steer the Broncos back to mediocrity over the course of his contract, allowing the Broncos to set the table around him for a new rookie to come in in the future and take the reigns. This year, I envisage the Broncos drafting Quenton Nelson with the 5th overall pick, and using a number of later rounds picks to secure the secondary following the departure of Aqib Talib to the Rams. Under the watchful eye of Keenum, and hopefully, with someone behind him who can carry the rock successfully, the Broncos should be able to become competitive within the AFC West once more.



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