The 2016 season was a particularly competitive one for the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders both made the playoff with 12-4 records. The Denver Broncos narrowly missed out at 9-7, and the injury stricken Los Angeles Chargers weren’t even close. With the AFC West being hailed as the most competitive division in football, this level of competition appears to be the future for the West. While other AFC divisions have standing dynasties, who will cement the next AFC West dynasty?
All the teams in the AFC West are good teams. The Chargers have Joey Bosa coming into form, as well as the explosive offense led by Philip Rivers has playoff potential. The Broncos still have a strong defense, and young developing quarterbacks in Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. The Oakland Raiders are seen to be favorites with a young and explosive offense led by Derek Carr. However, the Chiefs will still win the West.
The Kansas City Chiefs Have the Tools to Cement an AFC West Dynasty
The Kansas City Chiefs have a young roster. Despite the youth, they do have veterans in key positions that add a strong level of competition to the team. Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson, and Marcus Peters form the core of a ball hawking defense. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Jeremy Maclin are part of an offense with huge potential. Enter the 2017 Draft class.
While the rest of the west was searching for players (and paying a heavy price) to add depth to key positions, the Chiefs invested in a quarterback. Patrick Mahomes plays a different style from Alex Smith. Instead of “dink and dunk,” Mahomes airs the ball out. While Smith will be the 2017 starter, giving Mahomes time to develop, he does have the tools to turn the Chiefs offense into something dangerous.
While Mahomes is set to sit out the 2017 season to develop behind Smith, Kareem Hunt could make an immediate offensive impact. The Chiefs currently have a full runningback room with C.J. Spiller, Spencer Ware, and Charcandrick West. All have strengths, but also known weaknesses. While Hunt is a rookie and will also need time to develop, he showed plenty of dynamic play in college.
The Big Picture with the 2017 Draft Class
Consider this. Each team has a trademark. The Broncos have a strong defense, but their offense was unproductive last season. The Raiders have a strong offense, but their defense allowed yards and points. The Chargers have a strong offense, but injury hurt their roster hard last season. The Chiefs have a strong, ball hawking defense. This helps them win games, but is it enough to win championships?
If the Chiefs can maintain their current defensive infrastructure, as well as make Mahomes into a game winning quarterback, they can truly form a dynasty in the west. Imagine a defense upsetting offenses by forcing stops and turnovers, while Mahomes drops bombs to speedster Tyreek Hill. Travis Kelce, Jeremy Maclin, and Kareem Hunt can also help break down defensive schemes. Where the Raiders, Broncos and Chargers all have strong characteristics, the Chiefs have maintained this over time, and can even make it better. Skill on defense has cemented the Chiefs as a playoff team, but adding a skilled offense can make them Championship caliber.