In the last installment of the 2023 NFL Win-Loss Projection: AFC East you got an in-depth look at where each of those teams would finish the season and why, along with some key games on their respective schedules. Today we’re going to continue our tour around the AFC and project where the “Best of the West” will finish. There were quite a few bigger stories that impacted the AFC West this offseason, including Derek Carr and Darren Waller leaving Las Vegas, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jakobi Meyers both signing with the Raiders, and Sean Payton becoming the new Head Coach of the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs also lost a few keys players from their Super Bowl squad including Frank Clark, who went to the division rival Broncos, Orlando Brown Jr., and Juju Smith-Schuster. Let’s see where they finish in 2023.
Kansas City Chiefs: 13-4
As long as Patrick Mahomes is under Center, the Chiefs will continue to contend in the AFC West. Sorry other AFC West teams! Kansas City doesn’t even have that hard of a schedule this year!
It’s almost unfair because KC is going to be challenged by a young and hungry Chargers club. The Chiefs O-Line with Travis Kelce at Tight End, and even a mediocre running game will get “W”s. Notable Wins: Geez, there’s so many to choose from…how about Week 1 vs. the Detroit Lions, and Week 17 vs. Cincy because it’s still not “Burrowhead”. Notable Losses: It’s a rough start after Week 1 when they lose at Jacksonville in Week 2, and then at the Jets in Week 4.
Los Angeles Chargers: 12-5
The “Bolts” finished 10-5 last year and were defeated in the first round of the playoffs against Jacksonville in a game that they never should have lost. Poor coaching and poor time-management are to blame. That kind of thing tends to leave a bitter taste in your mouth. They improved in the offseason and will make a push at the end of this season winning five of six to beat last years’ record. A Week 5 Bye will test their durability and determination, but will ultimately show their resolve. Notable Wins: at Green Bay in Week 11, and Week 16 against Buffalo at home. Notable Losses: At Minnesota in Week 3 and at New England in Week 13.
Las Vegas Raiders: 9-8
The Raiders weren’t as bad as their 6-11 record indicates from last year. They only gave up 23 more points than they scored for the entirety of the season.
If Jimmy Garoppolo stays healthy, he can pick apart secondaries with Davante Adams, and new WR Jakobi Meyers, while the 2022 leading rusher, Josh Jacobs, continues to run through defenses. Notable Wins: Week 3 during their home opener vs. Pittsburgh, and Minnesota at home in Week 14 after their Bye Week. Notable Losses: Back-to-back road games to the NFC North at Chicago and at Detroit in Weeks 7 and 8. Leaving Las Vegas; great movie but bad for the Raiders.
Denver Broncos: 4-13
I don’t care if Sean Payton is the new Head Coach or not. First, he’s overrated. Second, Denver is literally one of the worst teams in the NFL. Besides Russell Wilson and Jerry Jeudy, they have no offensive weapons.
Their running game is questionable at best. They seriously need to look at adding either Dalvin Cook or Ezekiel Elliott. The defense is going to have to save them every game. They were #7 for yards allowed last year, and in the middle of the pack for points allowed, but that’s not nearly enough. It’s going to be an ugly year for the Broncos; they’re in a very talented division and their out-of-division games are against tough teams too. Notable Wins: Washington in Week 2 and Green Bay in Week 7, both at Mile High. Notable Losses: I think they get swept by both the Chiefs and the Chargers this season.
This is only the third of an “eight part blog” that will cover each of the NFL divisions. Please continue to come back and check, as I will be covering the AFC South next and telling you if the Jaguars will win yet another Division Championship, or if a rookie quarterback leads their team to a Division Title. When I’m finished covering the AFC by division, I’ll let you know what the playoff picture will look like, and who has the best chance of making it to the Super Bowl. Thanks for the “read”!