RaiderRamble.com continues with its league-wide prediction series, this time we look at the AFC West with some further insight from Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton.
In the first part of the preview and prediction series, we looked at the AFC East, and it was a unanimous decision that the Patriots would have no problem winning the crown there. Now, we get to start in the Raider Ramble’s back yard; Let’s take a look at the most notable offseason moves made in the AFC West.
The Denver Broncos seem to be overhauling the offensive line with three new additions to it through free agency and the draft. Most important, however, are the losses of head coach Gary Kubiak and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Similarly, DeMarcus Ware won’t be terrorizing quarterbacks anymore as he retired back in March.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs have finally seen the Jamaal Charles era come to an end with the injury prone running back moving on during the offseason. Apparently, the Chiefs are also gearing up for the post-Alex Smith era after drafting Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the first round of the 2017 draft. Alex Smith is 33 years old and has a poor record in the playoffs. Additionally, the team parted ways with stud defensive lineman Dontari Poe.
The Oakland Raiders were slow to make any moves in the free agency period, but they bolstered the tight end position by adding Green Bay’s Jared Cook. Obviously, the biggest overhaul done was at the running back position by letting Latavius Murray head to the Minnesota Vikings and the opportunity to pry hometown native Marshawn Lynch out of retirement and from the grasp of the Seattle Seahawks. Moreover, the Raiders parted ways with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave which made many happy in Raider Nation.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers’ biggest offseason move was without question, their relocation move. Heading a couple of hours up the road to Los Angeles from San Diego, the Chargers will also be starting fresh with the addition of both a new head coach and defensive coordinator. Players wise, San Diego, selected one of the best wide receivers in the draft in Clemson star Mike Williams.
- Micah Schneiderman: Oakland Raiders
Call me a homer, but I honestly believe the Raiders finally get over the hump and win the division. With uncertainty at the quarterback position in Denver, I think the Raiders sweep the Broncos in 2017 and split both series’ with the Chiefs and the Chargers. My surprise team will be the Chargers giving Oakland a tougher time than many expect. The Chiefs are losing receiver Jeremy Maclin, and also defensive tackle Dontari Poe who will be enough to bring the Chiefs down to earth and finish a mediocre 8-8. Lynch and Richard alone will combine for at least 1,800 yards on the ground for the Raiders.
- Carlos Sanchez: Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are the team with the biggest expectation and the most talented offense in the division. However, let’s not forget that the Chiefs won the division with a punishing defense. Furthermore, both the Chargers and the Broncos reloaded. I see the Raiders taking the crown home, but only by a little. Likewise, don’t be surprised if the Chiefs repeat as division champs.
- Mario Tovar: Kansas City Chiefs
Now before Raider Nation gangs up on the founder of RaiderRamble.com for picking another team other than the Silver and Black, I’ll say this, the Raiders are going to the Super Bowl. In spite of this, they’re not winning the AFC West; I just don’t see this team beating the Chiefs twice in one season for starters. While I fully expect the running game, that’s now featuring “Beast Mode,” to run over the Chiefs, the same won’t hold true for the passing game as Derek Carr knows all too well.
Plus, besides, the Raiders will have one of the toughest schedules in 2017. Obviously, this won’t help matters so realistically I see the team going 10-6; best case scenario 11-5. Even with a 10-6 record, this team could still make it all the way to Minneapolis.
- Maurice Moton: Oakland Raiders
In the league’s toughest division, the AFC West, the Oakland Raiders will lead the pack with a balanced offense loaded with playmakers. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing will have more weapons than his predecessor Bill Musgrave in the upcoming season. Running back Marshawn Lynch and tight end Jared Cook will help the team start and close games on a strong note, especially in the red zone.
Expect the Raiders to win 12 games with a tougher schedule compared to the previous season. After losing five straight contests to the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland will split the season series with their most challenging adversary for the AFC West crown and finish 5-1 within the division. A win in Week 17 on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers will seal the team’s first division title since 2002.