BRONCOS

Around the AFC West: Balanced Chiefs remain the class of the division

Sep 14, 2022, 6:38 AM
Patrick Mahomes...
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos sit at the bottom of the AFC West, tied with the Las Vegas Raiders with an 0-1 record. They lost on the road to the Seattle Seahawks to open the season, and the Raiders lost an important division game to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

The AFC West has one team, the Kansas City Chiefs, who sit above the rest. Even though the Chargers are tied with the Chiefs at 1-0, the pecking order will be established soon. On Thursday night, the Chargers travel to play the Chiefs in Week 2.

Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.

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Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs made easy work of the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1. They beat up on a Vance Joseph defense and came out on top by a score of 44-21. Things weren’t close, and the Chiefs built a big lead quickly.

Without wide receiver Tyreek Hill, many were wondering what the Kansas City offense would look like. I think those questions were answered after only one game. This offense is still going to be explosive, and the Chiefs look like they’re on a collision course with the Buffalo Bills for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

It is a short week, and the Chiefs do have some injury concerns. Chiefs’ wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (shoulder) was a full participant in practice on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Smith-Schuster started off the week limited. Chiefs’ superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes has a wrist injury, but he has been fully practicing and is expecting to play. The Chiefs are on a roll with their passing game, but they have a running game which is rejuvenated. Former first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire is their starter, but he’s being pushed by rookie Isaih Pacheco. After years of struggling to find balance on offense, it appears the Chiefs may have achieved that in 2022 – and that’s bad news for the rest of the division and the rest of the league.

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Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders lost on the road last week to the Chargers by a score of 24-19. They weren’t able to pull off the victory, but there were some positives which can be gleaned from that contest. The Raiders made a big move to acquire wide receiver Davante Adams this offseason, and he’s been reunited with his college quarterback Derek Carr. That combination picked up where they left off years ago at Fresno State, with Adams compiling 141 yards receiving in Week 1.

The Carr/Adams connection is clearly working, but the quarterback has to create better connections with other targets. Carr completed 22 of his 37 passes for 295 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in an inconsistent performance. Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow has Pro Bowl upside, but Carr only connected with him three times for a mere 21 yards. Darren Waller is one of the best tight ends in the game, and he had four catches for 79 yards, but Carr did not find him near pay dirt. Things aren’t clicking on all cylinders for the Raiders right now. They’ll work on it, and if/when it happens, they’ll be a much more dangerous team.

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Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers beat up the Raiders at home, but they have a much tougher task in front of them on Thursday night against the Chiefs. They do have the offense to go toe-to-toe with the Chiefs when everyone is healthy, but the Chargers lost star receiver Keenan Allen to a hamstring injury in Week 1. He’s not going to play in Week 2, but tests have revealed that Allen may only miss one week of action. We’ll see guys like WR Mike Williams and Josh Palmer do more without Allen on the field. Behind them, WRs DeAndre Carter and Jalen Guyton could get more snaps, as well.

They have the talent on both sides of the ball to make a deep postseason run. However, the Chargers need to stay healthy and keep from choking at the end of the season or early in the playoffs.

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Around the AFC West: Balanced Chiefs remain the class of the division