Neil Reynolds' Division Preview - AFC West

Things could get wild in the west this year because the other teams in the division are deciding to fight fire with fire in a bid to keep up with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Rather than load up on defense, the Raiders, Broncos and Chargers have offensive talent of their own and will try to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes and company. A task much easier said than done!

Neil's Predicted Finish

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Las Vegas Raiders
  3. Denver Broncos
  4. Los Angeles Chargers

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

State of the Franchise

The Chiefs have kept the band together and are ready to challenge for multiple Super Bowls over the next decade. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, defensive tackle Chris Jones, head coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach have also signed contract extensions or new deals. The Chiefs have been built to last and start the season, quite rightly, as many people's Super Bowl favourites.

Star Man

This Mahomes kid is pretty special. He doesn't turn 25 until later this month but has already secured the NFL MVP crown, the Super Bowl MVP award on the way to lifting the league title and has a $503 million deal. Not too shabby!

Secret Superstar

Look out for the physically imposing (6-foot-7 and 290 pounds) Tanoh Kpassagnon to be much more involved in KC's defense in 2020. He flashed his playmaking ability with two sacks in the AFC title game.

By the Numbers

3… The Chiefs' three prominent receivers – Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Sammy Watkins – can all run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds or faster.

4… Tight end Travis Kelce has topped 1,000 receiving yards in four straight seasons – the first time a TE has achieved that feat in NFL history.

108.9… Patrick Mahomes has a career QB rating of 108.9 – the highest in NFL history.

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

State of the Franchise

The Raiders have progressed steadily under general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden. What was once an old roster has been stocked with intriguing youngsters. Will it be enough to secure a playoff berth in 2020? This much we do know as the Raiders embark on a new chapter in Las Vegas – the Silver and Black are relevant once more in today's NFL.

Star Man

He may only have one season of NFL action under his belt but Raiders running back Josh Jacobs has all the tools to be a star and a franchise tone-setter. Jacobs can be a bruising but also an elusive rusher.

Secret Superstar

Hunter Renfrow showed his potential as a chain-moving wide receiver with 49 catches for 605 yards and two scores. The Raiders are likely to lean on him even more in 2020 and his role will expand greatly.

By the Numbers

69… Josh Jacobs forced 69 missed tackles from defenders in 2019 – most among all NFL running backs.

4,054… Derek Carr threw for a career high 4,054 yards in 2019 and also set a career high by completing 70.4 percent of his passes.

6,174… Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for 6,174 yards in three seasons at Wisconsin.

DENVER BRONCOS

State of the Franchise

What a difference a month can make! The Broncos went 4-1 in December and that changed the tone of their entire offseason with a rallying cry to put more talent around quarterback Drew Lock in year two. It appears the Broncos have done that with the additions of rookie receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler, as well as veteran rusher Melvin Gordon. It may not lead to the playoffs, but Denver will have their moments.

Star Man

While he had a down year by his standards, Von Miller remains the best player in Denver. The seven-time All-Pro and former Super Bowl MVP boasts 106 sacks in 135 regular season games. A scary strike rate.

Secret Superstar

Noah Fant could become the NFL's latest star at the tight end position during the 2020 season. Fant displayed big-play potential as a rookie, catching 40 passes for 562 yards and three touchdowns.

By the Numbers

4-1… Drew Lock boasted a 4-1 record over the final five weeks of last season. Only Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes had more wins in the last five games of the year.

427… Courtland Sutton racked up 427 receiving yards on deep passes in 2019 – third-most in the NFL.

2,742… Broncos first-round draft pick Jerry Jeudy led the SEC with 2,742 receiving yards while at Alabama from 2017-19. He also led the way with 26 receiving touchdowns.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

State of the Franchise

It's a new start for the Chargers as they move on from veteran quarterback Philip Rivers after 224 games under center. Tyrod Taylor gets the opening day nod but Justin Herbert is the heir in waiting. The Chargers need to bounce back on the field and prove they can win over the fan base in LA off it. It's a big year for a team that won its close games in 2018 but failed to do just that in 2019. What do we get in 2020?

Star Man

Joey Bosa is an elite defensive end who gets the job done year in and year out, hence him being rewarded with a $135 million contract extension in the offseason. Bosa is a relentless chaser of quarterbacks who has notched 40 sacks in four seasons.

Secret Superstar

With fellow safety Derwin James sidelined for the year with a knee injury, second-year defensive back Nasir Adderley could be pushed to the fore. Like James, Adderley is athletic enough to be moved all over the formation.

By the Numbers

1 of 5… The Chargers were one of five teams (the others being Cleveland, Dallas, LA Rams and Tampa Bay) to have two 1,000-yard receivers in 2019 – Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

23-21-1… Tyrod Taylor has a record of 23-21-1 as a starting quarterback in Buffalo and Cleveland.

1,550… Austin Ekeler racked up 1,550 scrimmage yards in 2019 – ninth-most in the NFL.

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