Only Two Teams Can Win the AFC West

Last season, the AFC West had three amazing teams and the San Diego Chargers. In 2016, there are only two teams that have a legitimate shot to win the AFC West – the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders.

Only Two Teams Can Win the AFC West

The Chiefs won 11 straight games after a 1-5 start and after losing their star running back Jamaal Charles in Week 5 against the Chicago Bears. In the five games he started, Charles ran for 364 yards and four touchdowns. Had he stayed healthy, he was on pace to record 1,164 yards and 12 or 13 touchdowns.
Even without him, the Chiefs went on to win 10 straight regular season games and finish the season 11-5, which was good enough for second place behind the Denver Broncos, who won the division after defeating the Chargers. Alex Smith threw for 3,486 yards and 20 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. Tight end Travis Kelce turned out to be a big player, as well, catching 72 passes for 875 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin also stepped up as the biggest receiver on the team, catching 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Kansas City defense was very impressive as well. While Justin Houston didn’t have the 20.5 sacks he did in 2014, he still managed to record 7.5 sacks in 2015. Rookie Marcus Peters recorded eight interceptions. Put that team together with the return of Charles, who can produce double-digit touchdowns in 2016, and the Chiefs will have a significant chance to win the division.
The Raiders are right there next to them, however. Last season, quarterback Derek Carr shined in silver and black, throwing for 3,987 yards and 32 touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper played a big part in the Raiders high-powered offense. He caught 72 passes for 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns. Michael Crabtree was also an important player for the Raiders, catching 85 passes for 922 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Oakland defense, like the Chiefs defense, was very stout. Khalil Mack recorded 15 sacks, doubling Houston‘s 7.5 sacks. Both the Chiefs and Raiders are very evenly matched. The one advantage the Chiefs have is at the running back position. Other than that, these two teams are the clear favorites to win the AFC West in 2016, with the possible tiebreaker being who wins the two head-to-head games during the season.
Now that we’ve gone over why the Chiefs and Raiders are the clear cut contenders, here’s why the Chargers and Broncos have no chance.
The Broncos were not even supposed to make the playoffs with Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Von Miller, Malik Jackson, C.J. Anderson, DeMarcus Ware, and Brock Osweiler. They did make the playoffs as a one seed, however, and went on to defeat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Now, Manning is retired, Miller and the team are far from a contract deal, Jackson is in Jacksonville, and Osweiler is with the Houston Texans. They are also looking at Mark Sanchez as their starting quarterback, a man who has not done much since his first two seasons in the league when he was with the New York Jets.
As far as the Chargers go, they did play in close games last season, but they also got dominated by teams such as the Chiefs and Raiders. Phillip Rivers’ main target is Keenan Allen, and he only caught four touchdowns in 2015. Not to mention the poor performance of their 2015 first-round draft pick, running back Melvin Gordon, who was unable to record a touchdown on the year.
The Chiefs and Raiders are going to be very dangerous teams in the AFC West, and with the Broncos and Chargers on the decline, Kansas City and Oakland are clearly the top two teams that will be competing throughout the 2016 season for the title of AFC West champions.

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