2020 AFC West Preview
Yahoo Sports’ Senior NFL Writer Frank Schwab gives an in-depth breakdown of the division. Including team-by-team roster changes, key points of the schedule, and his over/under picks for season win totals.
FRANK SCHWAB: The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs look primed to own the AFC West for a long time, but the Broncos, Raiders, and Chargers all made big moves this offseason to try to catch up to Kansas City. Let's take a closer look at the AFC West, starting with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Coming off that big Super Bowl, they didn't do a lot this offseason. They were content to just retain most of their roster and really run it back, and who can blame them? It's a very good team, and they did add in the first round of the draft LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who really fits what they do and gives an already talented offense another playmaker.
When I look at the Chiefs' schedule, they have a really tough slate. Among their road opponents are the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New Orleans Saints. Four teams we all think are gonna be among the best in the NFL.
The Chiefs' over-under at BetMGM is 11 and 1/2, and I'm going slightly under that. Again, the Super Bowl hangover is real, and I think it's gonna hit the Chiefs too. We talked about their tough schedule. I think the division has gotten a little better. I'm not thinking the Chiefs fall off or anything, but 11.5 is a lot, and I'm gonna take the under.
Next, we move on to the Denver Broncos, who I thought had a really nice offseason after a strong finish to last year. They added some key veterans of the defense, trading for cornerback AJ Bouye and defensive end Jurrell Casey. They got Graham Glasgow, a guard from the Detroit Lions who can really help their line, and also running back Melvin Gordon, who's gonna be a good one-two punch with Phillip Lindsay there.
And then the draft was very good, highlighted by a couple of receivers at the top, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, a fast slot receiver. They've done a lot to help Drew Lock coming into his second year as a starter. I really like what John Elway did with the roster.
With the Broncos' schedule, we have to focus on the Chiefs games and one in particular. In week 13, they play at Kansas City on a Sunday night. Schedule really eases up after that. So if the Broncos are in position and can upset the Chiefs in Kansas City, we might be looking at an upset in the AFC West standings.
BetMGM's over-under for the Denver Broncos is actually one of my favorites on the board. It's 7 and 1/2, and I'm easily going over here. I think this is a good Broncos team. They showed last season what they can do, finishing 4 and 1 when Drew Lock took over at quarterback.
Up next is the Los Angeles Chargers, who are moving into a new stadium and gonna have a brand new look in 2020. Obviously, Philip Rivers is gone, the longtime quarterback. In his place is gonna be first round pick Justin Herbert. That's a huge move for the Chargers, but they then other big changes with the roster too.
In free agency, they went out and got some veterans who can help. Defensive tackle Linval Joseph, cornerback Chris Harris, then they added offensive linemen like Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga. This is a team that needed an upgrade on the line, and that helps.
But they also lost a lot too. Melvin Gordon moved on in free agency to Denver. Offensive tackle Russell Okung was traded to the Carolina Panthers. This team has just had a lot of turnover this offseason. It's gonna be really interesting to see how they gel early on.
When you look at the Chargers' schedule, I'm really focused on that week two game against the Chiefs. It's the first game in their new Los Angeles stadium, and there's gonna be a ton of questions with these Chargers. What kind of support do they get from the fans? Will Justin Herbert be the starting quarterback or will it be Tyrod Taylor? There's just gonna be a lot to be answered, so we're gonna find out how good the Chargers are early on.
The Chargers' over-under win total is 7 and 1/2 at BetMGM, and I'm gonna take the under. I just think the change at quarterback is a huge one for them. It's gonna be interesting to see if it takes a while for the Chargers to get together.
Next up is the Las Vegas Raiders, who are also moving into a new stadium in a brand new city and had a lot of changes on their roster as well. And they were very active in free agency getting some veterans who can help, guys like linebacker Corey Littleton, tight end Jason Witten comes over from the Cowboys, defensive tackle Maliek Collins also comes over from Dallas. Marcus Mariota was signed as a high-end backup to Derek Carr.
And then their draft was a little bit of a mixed bag. I do like receiver Henry Ruggs III. Then they reached with their other first round pick on Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette.
When the Raiders move into their new stadium in Las Vegas, it's gonna signal the start of a very tough stretch of their schedule. It starts with that first game in Las Vegas against the New Orleans Saints, one of the best teams in the NFL. Then it moves on to a game at New England. They come back home and play Buffalo but then play at Kansas City the defending Super Bowl champions.
At BetMGM, the Las Vegas Raiders over-under is 7 and 1/2, and I am gonna go under. I like the Raiders well enough, but I don't think they're ready to take the next step. I'm just not willing to put the Raiders at 8 and 8 yet, so I have to go under on the 7 and 1/2 win total.
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To recap the AFC West, I still do have the Kansas City Chiefs winning the division, but I think the Denver Broncos are gonna give them quite a run. In third place, I have the Los Angeles Chargers. I do have some concerns about their quarterback situation, but the rest of the roster is pretty good. And then I have the Las Vegas Raiders finishing in last place in their first season in their new city.