Raiders Bring Up The Rear In Updated AFC West Power Rankings

AFC West Post Draft Power Rankings: Raiders Bring Up The Rear

Two franchises have dominated the AFC West over the past decade: The Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. These two are the only squads to claim a division title in that time frame, including three combined Super Bowl victories. Interestingly, the Broncos also own the most last-place finishes in the division since 2013. The Chargers and Raiders often fall somewhere between second and fourth, constantly failing to break through. In fact, Vegas hasn’t won an AFC West title since the franchise was in Oakland in 2002. The drought dates back to 2009 for the then-San Diego Chargers.

Mid-May AFC West Power Rankings

What is in store for the division in 2023? In our mid-May AFC West power rankings, the defending champions keep their foot on the pedal while the rest of the division tries to close the Grand Canyon-sized gap between them.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 117-45

1st Place: 7 Straight (2016-2022)

2 Super Bowl Titles (2019, 2022)

1 Head Coach (Andy Reid)

*Since 2013

Key Additions: OT Jawaan Taylor, OT Donovan Smith, DL Charles Omenihu, QB Blaine Gabbert, DL Felix Anudike-Uzomah, WR Rashee Rice, OT Wanya Morris

Key Losses: OT Andrew Wylie, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, OT Orlando Brown Jr., DB Juan Thornhill, DL Frank Clark

2023 Strength of Schedule: 16th-hardest schedule

The Chiefs won their second Super Bowl of the Reid-Mahomes era in February. An exhilarating playoff run culminated in a 38-35 slugfest vs. the NFC champion, Philadelphia Eagles. On the back of a stellar 2022 NFL Draft class, Kansas City is in a prime position to extend its stranglehold on the AFC West.

General manager Brett Veach pieced together another impressive draft class in 2023, not to mention the slew of starters he added via free agency earlier in the offseason. The Chiefs will likely make it an eighth straight division title come January. It helps that they have the easiest schedule on paper in the AFC West.

Chargers Remain Ahead Of Raiders In Updated AFC West Power Rankings

2. Los Angeles Chargers

Record: 79-83

Last Place: 3 Times (2015, 2016, 2019)

3 Different Head Coaches

*Since 2013

Key Additions: LB Erik Kendricks, WR Quentin Johnston, LB Daiyan Henley, DT Jerrod Clark, DL Tuli Tuipulotu 

Key Losses: OL Matt Feiler, WR Deandre Carter, LB Drue Tranquill

2023 Strength of Schedule: tied for 12th-hardest schedule

As mentioned earlier, the Chargers are approaching 15 consecutive seasons without an AFC West title. Lucky for Los Angeles, the team employs one of the most gifted passers in the NFL — Justin Herbert. The former Oregon product carried the roster to a wildcard berth in 2022, marking his first appearance in the postseason.

Unfortunately for Chargers fans, we all know how that playoff game went down. The Bolts suffered a historic collapse in the second half vs. the upstart Jaguars, sending the front office back to the drawing board this off-season. Relieving offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi of his duties was the first step, along with the exciting addition of Kellen Moore becoming the voice for the offense.

Rookie pass catcher Quentin Johnston brings a new wrinkle to the pass-catching corps, providing Herbert and Moore with an embarrassment of riches in terms of weapons. The defense already looks infinitely better with its additions from the draft, including linebacker Daiyan Henley and defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu.

A Herbert monster contract extension is on the horizon, so now is the time for the franchise to go on a run while its star quarterback boasts a reasonable price tag. The Chargers sit comfortably at No. 2 in the latest AFC West power rankings.

Denver Supplants Raiders At No. 3 In AFC West Power Rankings

3. Denver Broncos

Record: 81-81

1st Place: 3 Straight (2013-2015)

1 Super Bowl Title (2015)

Last Place: 4 Times (2017, 2020-2022)

5 Different Head Coaches

*Since 2013

Key Additions: HC Sean Payton, OT Mike McGlinchey, WR Marvin Mims, LB Drew Sanders, CB Riley Moss, OL Ben Powers, RB Samaje Perine

Key Losses: DT Dre’Mont Jones, CB Ronald Darby, OL Graham Glasgow

2023 Strength of Schedule: tied for 12th-hardest schedule

The Broncos are ranked ahead of the Raiders? Yep. After watching this offseason play out, Denver owns a substantially better outlook than the team from Sin City. They completely overhauled the coaching staff, as the team brass sent draft pick compensation to New Orleans for future Hall of Fame head coach Sean Payton.

Along with Payton, the Broncos brought in droves of fresh faces via free agency and the NFL Draft. Perhaps the biggest acquisition of the offseason came when Denver inked offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey to a five-year pact. Last year quarterback Russell Wilson played behind a carousel of offensive linemen, as the Broncos did not have a single player appear in 17 games for the group.

Another step to improving the stagnant play of Wilson comes with the addition of wide receiver Marvin Mims. The Oklahoma superstar is an elite deep threat and gives Payton a field stretcher alongside Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton.

Defensively, Denver selected linebacker Drew Sanders and cornerback Riley Moss. Both players are freaky athletes and possess high-end traits at their given positions. Sanders can be a poor man’s Micah Parsons, while Riley Moss looks to be the first full-time starting white cornerback in the NFL since the early 2000s. Expect a bounce-back campaign from the only franchise outside Kansas City with an AFC West title since 2013.

Raiders Bring Up The Rear In Updated AFC West Power Rankings

4. Las Vegas Raiders

Record: 67-95

Last Place: 3 Times (2013, 2014, 2018)

4 Different Head Coaches (not counting interim)

*Since 2013

Key Additions: QB Jimmy Garoppolo, WR Jakobi Meyers, DB Marcus Epps, LB Robert Spillane, TE Austin Hooper, QB Brian Hoyer, DL Tyree Wilson, TE Michael Mayer, DT Byron Young, DB Christopher Smith, CB Jakorian Bennett

Key Losses: QB Derek Carr, CB Rock Ya-Sin, LB Denzel Perryman

2023 Strength of Schedule: 10th-hardest schedule

Oh boy… as Heath Ledger’s Joker once said: Here. We. Go. Assuming you haven’t angrily clicked out of this article yet, allow me to explain myself. The Raiders finished with the seventh-worst record in the NFL in 2022, and there’s little reason to believe the win total will increase in 2023.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a proven winner behind center, but injuries have often prevented the signal-caller from staying on the field full-time. It is also worth mentioning Garoppolo has only ever led a stacked roster, and the Raiders certainly aren’t that.

The free agency haul is best described as underwhelming, but a few capable veterans made their way to Vegas. Defensive back Marcus Epps and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers should log a bunch of snaps this coming season. Still, losing cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and linebacker Denzel Perryman undoubtedly hurts the defense.

Vegas’ Draft Class Provides Optimism For The Future

The leading cause for any optimism toward the Raiders right now is the underrated draft class from Dave Ziegler. First-rounder Tyree Wilson is an immediate difference-maker and a long-term replacement for the aging Chandler Jones. Tight end Michael Mayer will make fans quickly forget about Darren Waller, plus Jakorian Bennett, Byron Young and Christopher Smith have clear paths to starter reps early in their respective careers.

All in all, the future outlook for Vegas has some promise. However, the future will not help the Raiders much in 2023. Head coach Josh McDaniels must prove he can lead a group of men, with some in the locker room vocally unsure of the franchise’s trajectory. Given his track record, Raider Nation may want to keep an eye on quarterback Caleb Williams from USC.

*Top Photo: L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal

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