A dud in previous years, the AFC West is shaping up to be one of the most highly contested divisions in football going forward. An aging quarterback and plenty of free agents to sign could leave the champion Broncos vulnerable to their rapidly improving opponents.
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It was a rough year in San Diego. What seemed like an inevitable move to Los Angeles at the beginning of the season was postponed by one more season, keeping Chargers fans in agony even longer. A slew of injuries and 8 losses on the last drive led to a 4-12 season. The Chargers had no success in the run game, either. The Bolts averaged a second-worst 84.5 rushing yards per game, and were one of six teams to allow more than 2,000 yards on the ground.
The Oakland Raiders surprised a lot of people with an impressive 4-3 start. The Silver and Black looked like they could compete for a wildcard spot, but faltered down the stretch, finishing at 7-9. The drafts over the last two years have built the core of the team with Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, Mario Edwards and Gabe Jackson, and one more above-average draft class could push them into playoff contention.
The Chiefs looked to be destined for the first-overall pick at one point in their season. Starting out 1-5 and losing Jamaal Charles to a torn ACL, all seemed to be lost for Andy Reid’s squad. However, a switch flipped and Kansas City cruised to 11 wins in a row to end their season, including a wildcard win over the Houston Texans; KC’s first playoff win since 1994.
The Denver Broncos proved the old adage that “defense wins championships” with a dominating performance throughout the playoffs and a win in Super Bowl 50. Peyton Manning got to go out on top, and his heavily considering retirement after 17 seasons in the NFL. However, the Broncos have a significant number of free agents to resign, and important decisions have to be made to determine the team’s future.
Next: San Diego Chargers