In what might be one of the most perplexing divisions in the NFL, we look at the AFC West’s road to Super Bowl LI in Houston.
Last Year (2015): Denver Broncos (12-4, Super Bowl 50 Champions), Kansas City Chiefs (11-5), Oakland Raiders (7-9) and San Diego Chargers (4-12)
The Denver Broncos, despite being the champions of Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco, might be the team with the biggest questions on offense heading into the 2016 NFL season.
Following quarterback Peyton Manning’s retirement and Brock Osweiler signing with the Houston Texans, the Broncos face a big question in who will be the offensive leader of the team. The team does, however, return the core of their strength on defense, meaning that whether its new rookie Paxton Lynch or incoming veteran Mark Sanchez playing QB, the team will still contend for the division title.
The Kansas City Chiefs had a quiet offseason, with no major departures or arrivals to their squad. The team will look to build on a 2015 that saw a surging second half, falling just short of the AFC West division title.
The Oakland Raiders surprised many people in 2015, making them the dark horse candidate in the AFC in 2016. Quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Amari Cooper headline an offense that seemed to mesh in the second half of the 2015 season, and with head coach Jack Del Rio returning and a solid 2016 NFL Draft class, it would be well advised to be on the lookout for the Raiders in 2016.
The San Diego Chargers have a lot of work to be done, beginning on the defensive side of the ball after losing cornerback Patrick Robinson to the Indianapolis Colts. The offensive side of the ball shows a lot of glaring needs as well, with quarterback Phillip Rivers realistically the only surefire piece in place.
Prediction: The Oakland Raiders continue their rise and take the AFC West.