The AFC West is always a highly competitive division in the NFL, known for its tough matchups and storied rivalries. In most recent years, it has been the Kansas City Chiefs who have come on top in the division. However, this year may steer in a different direction for the AFC West. The competition is getting steeper every year as the Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Denver Broncos keep building up their roster specifically to take down the Chiefs. With that being said, here is the prediction for the AFC West standings in the 2023 NFL season.
Who takes the AFC West Crown?
4th Place: Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders will finish last in the standings for the AFC West for many reasons. One of these reasons is their strength of schedule.
The Raiders not only have the toughest projected schedule in the AFC West, but they also have the second-highest schedule in the entire NFL! They’ll have to face the Chargers, Chiefs, and Broncos twice, play on the road in Buffalo against the Bills, and play teams with a lot to prove like the Jets, Giants, and Vikings.
The Raiders simply do not have the pieces to be highly competitive this season. They ranked 22nd in total offense and 28th in total defense in 2022. The new addition of Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback is a downgrade from former quartberback Derek Carr, and there is a huge question mark as to if Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels should even be a head coach in the first place. For these reasons, the Raiders will finish last in the AFC West.
3rd Place: Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos will be the third-place team in the AFC West, improving slightly from last year’s downfall.
The Broncos in 2023 will have the 11th hardest schedule in the league, playing their AFC West opponents twice, while also having to face powerhouses like the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and Minnesota Vikings. Just like the Raiders, the Broncos don’t necessarily have the key components to compete with teams of this caliber. Denver ranked 21st in total offense last season, however, their defense balled out and ranked seventh in the league.
Newly-acquired head coach Sean Payton will look to get his new team out of this slump that they have been in. It is very likely that he will do so, but not in his first season in Denver. It will be highly competitive for third and fourth place in this division, but the Broncos will gain very slight momentum this year to finish in third.
2nd Place: Kansas City Chiefs
This may come as a shock to everyone, but the Kansas City Chiefs will not have the same mojo this season as they have in years prior.
The Chiefs have always been the top dog in the AFC West, winning the last seven division titles in a row. However, the Chiefs have the fifth toughest schedule in 2023, playing the AFC West twice, and playing Super Bowl contenders like the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, and Cincinnati Bengals. Kansas City had the number-one-ranked offense in the league in 2022, while ranking 11th in total defense.
With Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, Travis Kelce at tight end, and Andy Reid as the head coach, the Chiefs will always be in the conversation as the best team in the league. However, outside of these key pieces, there is not much for the Chiefs to fall back on. If one of their stars goes down with an injury, or the defense does not improve, the Chiefs would be above average at best. The Kansas City Chiefs will lose a couple of key division games, sending them back to second place in the AFC West.
1st Place: Los Angeles Chargers
This is the year that Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers get the best of the Kansas City Chiefs!
While being the only team in the AFC West to give the Chiefs a tough battle for the division, the Chargers have quietly built a roster that can dethrone the Chiefs as the division champs. The Chargers have the fourth toughest schedule in the league, playing their three divisional foes twice while having to compete against the Dolphins, Cowboys, and Bills. Los Angeles ranked ninth in total offense and 20th in defense amongst the NFL. However, the Chargers had one of the most injured rosters in the league last year, and they still made the postseason.
With the new addition of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to take Justin Herbert and this offense to new heights, and a fully healthy roster, the Chargers have the pieces to reign supreme in the AFC West this season. It will come down to one or two key matchups, but the Los Angeles Chargers will become AFC West champions for the first time since 2009!
The AFC West is such a competitive division, especially with the Chargers and the Chiefs battling it out. This will be a very close battle between these two teams for the top spot, but the Chargers upset the Chiefs in 2023, and will win the division, shocking the NFL world!
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