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2021 AFC West Preview

Predicted Order of Finish

AFC West

1. Kansas City- losing to Tom Brady in the Super Bowl isn’t the worst thing, the 31-9 defeat put a damper on what was another successful season for the Chiefs, QB Patrick Mahomes was again sensational passing for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns, however Mahomes fought through injuries during the playoffs and the focal point of the offseason was to better protect him, the entire O-Line will be reshuffled this year signing guard Joe Thuney and tackle Orlando Brown Jr, the team also drafted center Creed Humphrey in the second round, along with providing better protection to Mahomes the line hopes to do a better job opening holes for running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire who rushed for 1,100 yards in 2020, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill both return coming off All-Pro seasons, the defense put up mediocre stats in 2020 finishing 21st in rush yards allowed and 19th in sacks, offseason pick up Jarran Reed at tackle will look to provide more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, Nick Bolton taken in the second round will give the linebacker unit a big boost, the secondary forced 16 interception Iast year and returns everyone, will the Chiefs suffer a Super Bowl loss hangover, as long as Mahomes stays healthy it doesn’t appear likely

2. Las Vegas- yes the Raiders missed the playoffs finishing 8-8 but the team was 6-3 at one point in the season and collected quality wins over New Orleans, Kansas City, and Cleveland, the offense did its part under QB Derek Carr who passed for 4,103 yards and 27 touchdowns, despite the success on offense the Raiders chose to retool the O-Line drafting Alex Leatherwood with their first round pick and replacing 2 others, tight end Darren Waller is a star and led the team in receptions and touchdowns in 2020, the backfield is headed by two quality backs in Josh Jacobs and Keyan Drake, the defense undoubtedly held the team back in 2020 finishing 30th in points allowed forcing HC Jon Gruden to bring in new coordinator Gus Bradely, not surprisingly the organization drafted 5 defensive players including safety Trevon Moehrig, free agent signee Yannick Ngakoue will add to the pass rush and additions of tackle Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas provides more strength and depth up front, if the defense gets things turned around Gruden will have the Raiders back in the playoffs

3. Los Angeles- Justin Herbert was probably the biggest surprise of the season last year going from a backup to being the Offensive Rookie of the Year, Herbert will have to work under a new staff as Brendon Staley takes over as HC along with new OC Joe Lumbardi, the O-line was reconstructed in the offseason after struggling in 2020, the Chargers drafted Rashawn Slater in the first round and signed 2 guards and a center in the offseason, Herbert has plenty of weapons at receiver led by Keenan Allen who caught 8 touchdowns a year ago, the defense finished 23rd in scoring in 2020, but seeks improvement under defensive minded Staley who called the plays for the dominant Rams unit last year, must do a better job at generating sacks after finishing 25th in the league led by defensive ends Joey Bosa and Uchenna Nwosu, the secondary should be stout after resigning cornerback Michael Davis, new coach, new coordinators, and four new O-Linemen isn’t typically a formula for success at any level

4. Denver- HC Vic Fangio enters his third season coaching the Broncos, the franchise has struggled mightily to find a quarterback since Peyton Manning retired, QB Teddy Bridgewater was brought in during the offseason and appears to be the starter heading into the season, Bridgewater who went 22-12 with the Panthers will be asked to limit turnovers and provide some life into a passing game that ranked 26 in the NFL last year, the receiving corps will get a giant boost from the return of Pro Bowler Courtland Sutton who tore his ACL after playing only 1 game, the Broncos spent their second round pick on RB Janvonte Williams who will pair up with Melvin Gordon III in the backfield, the defense was expected to be the strength after bringing in Fangio but the unit gave up 27.9 points per game ranking 25th a year ago after giving up 19.8 in 2019, the one bright spot was the pass rush which sacked opposing quarterbacks 42 times last year, returning linebackers Malik Reed and Bradley Chubb accounted for 15.5 of those sacks, and don’t forget about Von Miller who looks for a bounce back year, the pressure is on Fangio, if Bridgewater can’t produce it could be the end of the road for him in Denver

Buy- Las Vegas

Sell- None

Best Bet- Las Vegas OVER total wins

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