Fantasy Gunslinger

Football with an Emphasis on Fantasy & Gambling


Last season was an interesting one in the AFC West in that all of the teams entering the season thought they had a decent shot at winning the division which was different than the previous 4 seasons when Peyton Manning was king of the Broncos. Manning led Denver to 4-straight AFC West titles accumulating in a 45-12 record as a starter, reaching 2 Super Bowls and beating the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl in his last start ever in the NFL.

Oakland had a couple of young stars on both sides of the fooball in Derek Carr and Khalil Mack that were though to be the future of the franchise that could return Raider Nation to the glory of days gone by. Kansas City went 11-5 in Manning’s last season and were thought to be the most likely team to supplant the Broncos as leaders of the West. The Chargers had Philip Rivers and some young guys on defense that could make all the difference. In a QB driven league, having the best QB in the division was a feather in San Diego’s cap. Denver of course was the defending Super Bowl champions and even without Manning, the Broncos still had arguably a top-5 defense that could power their way to yet another division title.

Only Kansas City & Oakland lasted and both flamed out at the end. Oakland lost QB Derek Carr to a broken leg while Kansas City showed absolutely no ability to score in their playoff loss to Pittsburgh. The Chiefs held the Steelers prolific offense to 18 points, but could garner just 16 themselves in a divisional round loss at Arrowhead.

Oddly enough we enter 2017 in much the same way we entered 2016 with all four teams having reasons as to why they can once again win the West. Oakland brings back a healthy Derek Carr and also a healthy Mario Edwards. The Raiders went 12-4 and think the season could have gone a lot differently had Carr not been hurt. The Chiefs went 12-4 and are the defending West champions. Why wouldn’t they think they couldn’t repeat especially with how good the defense can be. Los Angeles’s young players on defense are paying off in spades. They’ve upgraded the O-Line and at this point everyone is healthy. Denver is still Denver. They were Super Bowl champions 2-years ago and their defense is still lethal. All 4 teams have reasons to believe they can be back on top of the West, which should make this one of the most compelling divisions in the NFL.

Note: Teams are listed in the order I think they’ll finish for the 2017 NFL season.

Computer Hope Philip Rivers is one of the most ELITE QBs in the NFL but he’s experienced a ton of bad luck lately. San Diego has tried to address this as much as they can by signing Russell Okung to play LT and drafting both Dan Feeney & Forest Lamp to play G. Drafting Mike Williams was huge and Melvin Gordon finally came into his own last year. The Bolts are going to score! Defensively I think Joey Bosa & Melvin Ingram are the best pair of pass rushers in the NFL. The secondary is going to improve with a healthy Jason Verrett. The NFL is about passing & getting sacks. Los Angeles is at an ELITE level in both very important areas.
Computer Hope The Raiders suffered some brutal luck down the stretch with Derek Carr breaking his leg and LT Donald Penn missing time. Those guys are healthy this year and with the addition of Marshawn Lynch at tailback, the Raiders should be one of the most prolific offensive teams in the NFL. I think the defense will depend a lot on the health of Mario Edwards. He is a key part of the defense even though Khalil Mack gets a lot of love from the pundits. I also love Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson at safety. Oakland needs good play out of their corners & LBs but this defense is solid. They just miss the San Diego but are playoff bound.
Computer Hope Despite their recent success, the Chiefs have serious questions coming into 2017. Offensively this team is about how effectively they can get Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce the football. There aren’t many other options outside of Spencer Ware & QB Alex Smith is limited physically thus resulting in the Chiefs drafting Pat Mahomes as their QB of the future. Luckily for the Chiefs they should have a top-10 defense once again. I love the outside combination of Tamba Hali & Justin Houston. Eric Berry is a monster at safety & Chris Jones is solid on the interior. The defense is enough to put them in playoff contention, but not the West.
Computer Hope Denver faced the same problems that Cleveland, New York and Houston face heading into 2017. They simply don’t have a good solution at QB when the other teams in the division do. That isn’t a recipe for success and I don’t think Denver can rely on San Diego having bad luck again to keep them out of the basement. The Broncos are a lot like Kansas City in that they’ll have more than enough defense to keep them in games, but at some point the offense has to score and can you trust Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch to lead you to wins? If one of those QBs emerge then Denver is a much different story.

August 13, 2017 - Posted by | AFC, AFC West, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Predictions, Preseason, Previews

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