2016 playoff predictions: AFC West

On the cusp of the 2016 NFL season, our analysts provide their picks for the major individual awards and playoff predictions for each conference. Check back Friday to see Championship Sunday/Super Bowl forecasts.


Judy Battista: Kansas City Chiefs. Denver's questions at quarterback open the door for the balanced Chiefs, who have a top-three scoring defense and a deep rushing offense. Also, they can rely on Alex Smith to be steady if unspectacular.

Jeffri Chadiha: Chiefs. This is the most talented team head coach Andy Reid has had in his four seasons with the Chiefs. K.C. has to make some noise.

Gil Brandt: Chiefs. Andy Reid is a special coach. This is a veteran team with a plus defense and an offense that will be better than it was in 2015.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Chiefs. Kansas City isn't a flashy team, but the Chiefs have talent on both sides of the ball. This will be a tough division, but K.C. is the team to beat here.

Brian Billick: Chiefs. The Broncos might have the best defense in the NFL, but that's not enough anymore. You have to combine it with a dominant running game that just doesn't exist in Denver. On the contrary, Kansas City might have the deepest backfield in the NFL, and the Chiefs will lean on the three-headed monster of Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware.

Gregg Rosenthal: Chiefs.Alex Smith and Andy Reid enter Year 4 together. Smith knows this offense down cold and has much-improved weapons around him.

Willie McGinest: Denver Broncos. This defense will be great again and should lead the team to its sixth straight AFC West title.

Adam Schein: Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are getting back to the playoffs! I love the Derek Carr-Amari Cooper connection, and Khalil Mack is a star. Jack Del Rio will maximize the talent after a great offseason.

Bucky Brooks: Chiefs. The Chiefs' blue-collar offense leads a surprising run to the AFC West title. Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West pace the NFL's top rushing attack and key a "keepaway" strategy that frustrates opponents.

Elliot Harrison: Chiefs. Kansas City will have its hands full in what should amount to a tight race in the AFC West. With the Raiders ascending but unproven, and the Broncos starting Trevor Siemian, this should be Andy Reid's best shot to win the division.

Charley Casserly: Chiefs. Most solid team on all fronts: offense, defense and experience.

Ike Taylor: Raiders. Surprisingly, the Broncos will be dethroned. The Raiders have been building and will finally break through this season.

Dave Dameshek: Chiefs. There won't be much room between the best and worst in the West this season, but I'll go with Andy Reid, who's fielded a winning team in 12 of his 17 seasons as an NFL head coach. (9-7, No. 4 seed)

Chris Wesseling: Raiders. Don't look now, but the Raiders have assembled one of the deepest rosters in the conference, while the Broncos hope to avert disaster at the game's most valuable position for the second straight season.

Colleen Wolfe: Chiefs. T-minus four-and-a-half months until Andy Reid swaps regular-season excitement for a catastrophic clock-management failure in the playoffs.

Heath Evans: Broncos. The defense plays with confidence and will lead Gary Kubiak's group to another division title.

Marcas Grant: Raiders. Reggie McKenzie's work provides fruit as a young and hungry roster takes advantage of a division in flux to get back to the postseason.

Adam Rank: Chiefs. Andy Reid finds a way to get it done once again.

Alex Gelhar: Raiders. Denver's quarterback issues and Kansas City's injuries on defense pave the way for the Raiders to surprise and take the AFC West crown.

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