AFC West

Updated AFC West Rankings Ahead Of Week 16

What started as one of the tightest divisions in football has turned into a battle for first place and the other two. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers have been the highlights of the AFC West in recent weeks, leaving the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos to do everything they can to not land themselves in last place. Heading into Week 16, here is how the updated AFC West rankings look.

1. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)

If there was ever a misleading record, it’s the one belonging to the Chargers. The Chargers hold the crown as the best 8-6 team in the NFL this season. Justin Herbert was just named to the Pro Bowl as the AFC’s starting quarterback. Wide receiver Keenan Allen, defensive end Joey Bosa, safety Derwin James Jr., center Corey Linsley, and tackle Rashawn Slater were also named to the Pro Bowl.

The Chargers are fresh off the most impressive loss any team has taken this season. They went head to head with the reigning AFC champions, the Chiefs, taking the game to overtime. The Chiefs came out with a win, but it was clear the better team did not win that night.

The Chargers’ remaining schedule consists of games against the Houston Texans, the Broncos, and the Raiders. Herbert and Brandon Staley look locked in and ready to make their first playoff appearances this season.

Raiders’ Most Pressing Concerns Ahead Of Week 16 Clash

2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)

After a sub .500 start, the Chiefs have raddled off seven straight wins and now find themselves back in the first seed in the AFC playoff picture. We know that wins are the only stat that truly matters, and the Chiefs have 10 of them, but they haven’t been pretty.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense don’t look as put together as they once did. The defense has been the glue of the team, something that no one saw coming. While the offense is slow to put points on the board, the defense is able to hold off their opponents to give Mahomes the ball back.

No one ever rules out Andy Reid and Mahomes, but if the Chiefs want to make a deep playoff run, their offense will have to come together fast.

3. Denver Broncos (7-7)

The Broncos are currently sitting in last place in the AFC West after going 4-7 since Week 4. While they have lost significantly more than they have won, the Broncos have one of the most complete rosters in football.

Teddy Bridgewater’s reliable targets include wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick. He also has one of the most explosive running games in football with a one-two punch of Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams. The defense also has its fair share of stars with Bradley Chubb, Justin Simmons, and Patrick Surtain II. Brandon McManus, their kicker, rounds out their monster roster as one of the best kickers in football.

Regardless of having an average signal-caller, the Broncos have been able to maximize their talent, keeping their playoff hopes alive well into December.

The Raiders remain at the bottom of the West…

4. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)

The Raiders have lost five of their last seven games and are fighting for a playoff spot. They lost in embarrassing fashion to the Chiefs twice, the four-win Giants, and the Taylor Heinicke-led Washington Football Team. They barely escaped with a win against the COVID-19-riddled Browns and now face the potent Indianapolis Colts in Week 17.

An offense that started the season fast and a defense that looked to be among the most improved in the league have sputtered and stopped, to say the least. To have any chance of making the playoffs, Derek Carr and interim head coach Rich Bisaccia have to hold the team accountable and rally them together. Being able to win out will keep them in the playoff race, but not guarantee them a spot.

While it’s still possible they play into the postseason, the Raiders have mostly resorted to demonstrating why this offseason is crucial to the trajectory of the organization.

*Top Photo: Courtesy of NFL.com

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