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NFL Draft

Record Predictions: Who Will Win AFC West?

  • The Draft Network
  • May 13, 2021
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The AFC West has been dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs ever since Peyton Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl in 2016. The Chiefs have now won the division for five straight years and really have only been challenged once over that span when the Los Angeles Chargers fielded a playoff team in 2018.

The Chiefs have been arguably the best team over the last three seasons in all of football. In 2018 the team went 12-4 and made it to the AFC Championship Game before losing to the New England Patriots. In 2019 the team went 12-4 and went on to win the Super Bowl. In 2020 the team went 14-2 and lost in the Super Bowl to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

It’s hard for a team to have that much consistent success over a three-year period, but of course when you have Patrick Mahomes as your quarterback and Andy Reid as your coach you have a pretty good shot at winning each and every football game you play in. The team looks to have a stranglehold on this division for the foreseeable future, but there are a few other teams that may have something to say about that.

The Chargers have a young star quarterback, the Raiders boast an explosive offense that has proven to be able to match points with the Chiefs, and the Broncos arguably have the most talented defense in the entire division and are loaded with playmakers on offense. Do any of these teams have enough juice to overtake or at least give the Chiefs some competition this season?

Let’s dive into the 2021 schedules for each of the four teams in the AFC West:


Week 1: vs. Browns (W)

Week 2: @ Ravens (W)

Week 3: vs. Chargers (L)

Week 4: @ Eagles (W)

Week 5: vs. Bills (L)

Week 6: @ Washington (W)

Week 7: @ Titans (W)

Week 8: vs. Giants (W)

Week 9: vs. Packers (W)

Week 10: @ Raiders (W)

Week 11: @ Cowboys (W)

Week 12: BYE

Week 13: vs. Broncos (W)

Week 14: vs. Raiders (W)

Week 15: @ Chargers (W)

Week 16: vs Steelers (W)

Week 17: @ Bengals (W)

Week 18: @ Broncos (L)

Record Prediction: 14-3

The Chiefs lost the Super Bowl last season and now I expect this team to come back hungrier than ever. They got embarrassed by the Buccaneers and for the first time we began to hear criticism of Mahomes—which was totally unjust. The Chiefs wisely addressed their offensive line as that was their one glaring weakness heading into the offseason. With new starters at nearly every single position up front, this unit is much better than it was a year ago. 

Kansas City has quite the opening three weeks facing the Browns, Ravens, and Chargers, all of whom have playoff aspirations. I see them dropping at least one of those games, giving Mahomes the first loss of his career in the month of September. They then have a few easy games in the middle of the season with the Eagles, Titans, and Giants to get things going. I see the Chiefs being 9-2 heading into their Week 12 bye and then finishing up strong as they clinch home-field advantage and rest their starters in Week 18 at Denver. 


Week 1: @ Washington (L)

Week 2: vs. Cowboys (W)

Week 3: @ Chiefs (W)

Week 4: vs. Raiders (L)

Week 5: vs. Browns (L)

Week 6: @ Ravens (L)

Week 7: BYE

Week 8: vs. Patriots (W)

Week 9: @ Eagles (W)

Week 10: vs Vikings (W)

Week 11: vs. Steelers (W)

Week 12: @ Broncos (L)

Week 13: @ Bengals (L)

Week 14: vs. Giants (W)

Week 15: vs. Chiefs (L)

Week 16: @ Texans (W)

Week 17: vs. Broncos (W)

Week 18: @ Raiders (W)

Record Prediction: 10-7

Los Angeles is primed for a double-digit win season as long as injuries permit. The Chargers finished last season 7-9 and finished with four straight wins to close the season. The Chargers were very close to an above .500 record last year after playing a rookie quarterback, playing the season with all sorts of injuries—including not having your best player for the whole season with the injury to Derwin James—and with a coach who was terrible at clock management and in-game decision making. Those factors alone surely cost the Chargers at least three games. 

Looking at the Chargers' schedule this year, it is honestly very favorable. There are a few teams the Chargers just aren’t as good as such as the Ravens, Chiefs, and Browns, but other than that they match up extremely well with the rest of their schedule. The two toughest nondivisional games could end up being against the Steelers and Vikings, but they get both of those at home. The Chargers could very well be a playoff team if they can just get a little lucky on the injury report. 


Week 1: vs. Ravens (W)

Week 2: @ Steelers (L)

Week 3: vs. Dolphins (W)

Week 4: @ Chargers (W)

Week 5: vs. Bears (W)

Week 6: @ Broncos (L)

Week 7: vs. Eagles (W)

Week 8: BYE

Week 9: @ Giants (W)

Week 10: vs. Chiefs (L)

Week 11: vs. Bengals (W)

Week 12: @ Cowboys (L)

Week 13: vs. Washington (W)

Week 14: @ Chiefs (L)

Week 15: @ Browns (L)

Week 16: vs. Broncos (W)

Week 17: @ Colts (L)

Week 18: vs. Chargers (L)

Record Prediction: 9-8

Las Vegas finally finishes over .500 for the first time in the Gruden era! The Raiders are just a tough team to predict. Their offense should theoretically still be one of the most explosive units in the league with stable playmakers Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller, John Brown, and Henry Ruggs III. That being said, we have no clue how this re-worked offensive line will look and I do think the loss of Nelson Agholor is underrated. The defense is a mystery as well. If their highly drafted young players take a step forward, then this unit has some potential. If they don’t, it could be a long year. 

The Raiders start the year out with a bang hosting the Ravens for the very first home opener with fans in Vegas. I think this is a classic Raider big game where they come out with all sorts of energy and shock the world. After that I see them going down to the Steelers across the country but then rebound nicely, staying on the west coast for the next five weeks. After the team’s bye things start to get ugly. The Raiders have to face the Cowboys, Chiefs, Browns, and Colts all on the road to end the year and that’s simply no easy task. I am going to believe in this offense and in Derek Carr to continue to perform and they should finish right in the mix for a wild-card spot. 


Week 1: @ Giants (L)

Week 2: @ Jaguars (L)

Week 3: vs. Jets (W)

Week 4: vs. Ravens (L)

Week 5: @ Steelers (L)

Week 6: vs. Raiders (W)

Week 7: @ Browns (W)

Week 8: vs. Washington (W)

Week 9: @ Cowboys (L)

Week 10: vs. Eagles (W)

Week 11: BYE

Week 12: vs. Chargers (W)

Week 13: @ Chiefs (L)

Week 14: vs. Lions (W)

Week 15: vs. Bengals (W)

Week 16: @ Raiders (L)

Week 17: @ Chargers (L)

Week 18: vs. Chiefs (W)

Record Prediction: 9-8

Denver could be a 10-win team or a seven-win team, it just depends on what Drew Lock will look like in his second season as a full-time starter. If Lock takes the next step in his development, this team will be very dangerous. They have arguably one of the best receiver rooms in the league with a healthy Courtland Sutton returning and second-year players Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler poised to take big leaps. Their offensive line could prove to be an issue as right tackle Ju’Wuan James will miss the season, but overall the unit is pretty solid. The defense should be much improved with Von Miller healthy and the addition of cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Kyle Fuller. 

The Broncos are a team that, on paper, should be able to win a decent number of football games. But, in those moments late in the fourth quarter of a close game when they need Lock to make a play and move the chains, will Lock be able to do it? I’m not sure. I have them stumbling out the gate with two road losses to teams I think will be much improved in the Giants and Jaguars. They then have a slump buster with the Jets, but things get tough right away with a pair of AFC North stalwarts. The Broncos then rattle off some upsets versus the Browns and Washington but ultimately will struggle toward the end of their season.

The Broncos' quarterback play will make or break their season and unfortunately for the Broncos, if Lock stinks and Teddy Bridgewater comes in and plays, the team is just good enough to win enough games to keep them out of the top 10 in the draft. Brutal. 

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