Do you hear that, NFL fans? That’s the joyous sounds of the 2022 NFL season kicking off. The opening week of the regular season has officially begun, and on Thursday, the Los Angeles Rams will square off against the Buffalo Bills at SoFi in what will mark the first meaningful contest of the year. If you’re a fan of the AFC West, you should have an additional dose of excitement.
No division in football has as much talent being fed into it as the AFC West, and as such, the division is poised to be a bloodbath all the way to the bitter end. There’s a reason why analysts such as Colin Cowherd are alluding to the possibility that this may be the best division through the entirety of the modern era.
How will this influx of talent affect each team in the division, though? Sure, talent is a key component to building a winning team, but there are various other factors, such as coaching and scheme fit.
With that in mind, allow me to share my thoughts on the potential of each squad in the AFC West. This will be a detailed outlook, giving both the floor and ceiling of all four teams.
Discussing the ceiling and floor for each NFL team in the AFC West
Kansas City Chiefs
Earlier, I touched on the talent influx in this division and how no division in football benefitted more from the ’22 offseason than the AFC West. The Chargers’ exciting free agency was highlighted by the signings of J.C. Jackson and Khalil Mack. Denver galloped their way into a trade for nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson, and the Las Vegas Raiders stole Green Bay’s gold when they traded two draft picks for the league’s best wideout.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, were the lone AFC West team to not bring in a star this offseason.
Kansas City acquired Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency, and while not a household name, his deep threat prowess should go a long way in filling in the downfield void left by Tyreek Hill’s departure. Remember; just two seasons ago, when paired with the dominant pass catcher Davante Adams-who can be compared to Travis Kelce in K.C.-MVS logged a league-high yards per catch average of 20.9.
Valdes-Scantling is just a new addition, though. The real meat on the Chiefs’ plates comes from what they already had.
The Chiefs still have a guy named Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes, a four-year starter in the NFL, is a first-team All-Pro, Most Valuable Player, and Super Bowl champion. More impressively, the Chiefs under Mahomes have gone to four straight AFC Championship Games in a row.
Just a second ago, I mentioned that Mahomes is a four-year starter. Now, add the fact that he’s taken Kansas City to the conference finals four times. That means a year has yet to go by where the 26-year-old was a starting quarterback and didn’t attend the Conference Championship Game.
While Mahomes is clearly an elite quarterback, a large chunk of success can also be attributed to legendary coach Andy Reid. Big Red has 233 career wins as a head coach, which currently ranks fifth all-time. His 17 playoff appearances throughout his career rank third in league history, and if the Chiefs make the postseason in 2022, Reid will be tied for second.
The combination of Mahomes and Reid has done nothing but work. Four years together (with Mahomes starting), and four seasons ending as a final-four team in the postseason.
Taking the consistent dominance of the Mahomes and Reid duo into account, it would be foolish to write this team off despite losing an All-Pro wideout. For my money, the Chiefs’ winning the AFC West isn’t just a ceiling, but it’s the most likely scenario.
To reiterate the sentiment above, it would be foolish to count out Kansas City given their quarterback and head coach chemistry and success. I just can’t see any circumstance where the Chiefs don’t at least compete for the division title.