NFL Playoffs Picture 2019: AFC West Teams Ranked

The AFC West was one of the closest divisions last season, and there is little to suggest the outcome will be particularly different this year.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers both arrive into this season off the back of a 12-4 campaign, Denver Broncos have a new coach and a new quarterback and Jon Gruden's revolution continues apace in Oakland.

Here's what to expect from the AFC West this time out.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs took the league by storm last season, falling only against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. It is, therefore, no surprise to see Kansas City being the bookmakers' favorite to win a fourth consecutive divisional title at 13/20.

In his second season in the NFL and his first as a starter, Patrick Mahomes enjoyed a meteoric rise. The 10th overall pick of the 2017 draft threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns—only the third player in history, after Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, to reach the latter milestone—and was named MVP.

The big question this season is whether Mahomes can live up to the stratospheric standards he set last year. If Kansas City is to go one step better than it did last season and reach the Super Bowl, he will have to be.

There are reasons to be optimistic, as the Chiefs have retained the core of their offensive weapons—including Tyreek Hill, who has been cleared to play after an investigation into allegations of domestic violence.

Frank Clark and Alex Okafor have replaced Justin Houston and Dee Ford at the outside linebacker position, while Steve Spagnuolo is the new defensive coordinator.

If the defense clicks, expect the Chiefs to be among the Super Bowl contenders this season.

Prediction: 12-4

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes #15, quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs, walked off the field with Andy Reid, head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, after the 26-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals at Arrowhead Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. David Eulitt/Getty

Los Angeles Chargers

Like the Chiefs, the Chargers went 12-4 last season. According to Oddschecker they are 19/10 to win a first divisional title since 2009.

A quiet summer on the free agency front has seen the Chargers add veteran linebacker Anthony Davis. Running back Melvin Gordon, however, has not reported for training camp after refusing a deal worth $10 million a season.

Chargers' general manager Tom Telesco has told Gordon's representatives they are free to seek out a trade for the two-time Pro Bowler.

The Chargers have a strong back-up at running back in the shape of Justin Jackson and Gordon appears unlikely to feature for the Chargers anytime soon.

Safety Derwin James is expected to miss half of the campaign as recovers from foot surgery, but tight end Hunter Henry returns after missing the whole of last season with a knee injury.

The Chargers must also hope pass-rushing duo Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram can stay fit. If they do, their team should go deep in the postseason.

Prediction: 11-5

Denver Broncos

The Broncos have a new quarterback-coach combination in the shape of Joe Flacco and Vic Fangio.

Fangio, the former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator, should make an already good defense even better. Flacco, meanwhile, will be hoping to prove himself after a few difficult seasons in Baltimore.

The 34-year-old led the Ravens to the Super Bowl in 2012, but there's a feeling he's something of a gamble for the Broncos. Denver's general manager John Elway has a poor record when it comes to selecting quarterbacks and Broncos fans must hope Flacco doesn't become the latest in a long list of disappointments.

Aside from a new signal-caller, Denver has acquired Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan to shore up its secondaries and also signed right-tackle Ja'Wuan James to a lucrative deal.

The Broncos have the second-hardest schedule in the league and the playoffs might remain elusive for a fourth consecutive season.

Prediction: 8-8

Oakland Raiders

Antonio Brown, Oakland Raiders
Antonio Brown #84 of the Oakland Raiders warms up before the NFL preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on August 15 in Glendale, Arizona. Christian Petersen/Getty

Since trading for Antonio Brown in the offseason, the Raiders have been extremely busy—and not just because they featured on HBO's Hard Knocks.

The wide receiver missed most of training camp with frostbite on his feet, incurred after not wearing the appropriate footwear in a cryotherapy chamber.

Brown then threatened to quit football if the NFL didn't allow him to wear the same helmet he's used for the last 10 years, before filing two grievances against the league.

Oakland has added wide receiver Tyrell Williams and veterans Richie Incognito and Vontaze Burfict, who come with heavy disciplinary baggage.

The Raiders have spent big to sign left tackle Trent Brown, a Super Bowl LIII winner with the New England Patriots, and safety Lamarcus Joyner.

In his second year in Oakland, Jon Gruden knows his team must improve on last season's 4-12 record, but the Raiders are 20/1 outsiders to win the AFC West.

Many questions still surround the Raiders ahead of their last season in Oakland before moving to Vegas, and having the hardest schedule in the league will make reaching the playoffs even harder.

Prediction: 6-10

NFL Playoffs Picture 2019: AFC West Teams Ranked | Sports
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