AFC West Tailgate: Talking winners, losers, sleepers, and more

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AFC West

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the AFC West, it has been the Kansas City Chiefs...and then everyone else. That is what happens when Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes & Co. connect, and his year will likely be no different. However, expect the Los Angeles Chargers to show some jolt. And the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders—will they improve or continue to sink? Let's gather around the tailgate...

Top team

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs look to make it three consecutive Super Bowl appearances. However, the rest of the AFC is getting stronger -- Browns, Ravens, Bills -- so it won't be easy. Still, to be "the team," you have to beat the best of the best, and until someone knocks K.C. off the AFC throne, the Chiefs rule.

Bottom team

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Raiders and Broncos figure to tussle for AFC scraps. It looks like Denver might have some life and will try to make this more than Vic Fangio's last season as its head coach. Jon Gruden and the Raiders have run a deep fade pattern the past two seasons, so why not go for a trifecta?

Sleeper

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers are the sleeper. They have Justin Herbert, who has megastar potential, and a lot of talent around the second-year QB. Plus, you can't overlook the Chargers' strong defense. The coaching change could, and should, fix much of the sloppiness and woes that diffused the Bolts in recent years. Don't be surprised to see 10-11 wins.

Breakout player to watch

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jerry Jeudy came to Denver with great expectations. Unfortunately, a troubled quarterback position in 2020 did not help the rookie get off to a strong start. Jeudy had a 52-catch, 856-yard season in 2020. Hopefully, there will be more stability from either Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock to get the former Alabama WR the ball. If so, look for vast improvement.

First coach on the hot seat

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Gruden. Another dismal season by the Raiders and the coach on his second run will see the fuse get shorter and shorter and ...

Best uniforms

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers. The powder blues are arguably the best outfits in all of sports.

Best stadium

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

This actually is a toss-up. Take your pick between the Raiders' Allegiant Stadium and the Chargers' SoFi Stadium home. We're going with Allegiant, though, mainly because the next time Los Angeles feels like an actual home for the Bolts will also be the first time. That might sway one of these years, but not at the moment.

Best fans

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Black Hole, of course. It goes wherever the Raiders call home. More NFL Tailgates: AFC East. AFC North. AFC South.

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