I’m fired up. We’re closing in on the Texans – Chiefs season opener at Arrowhead Stadium. Speaking about Kansas City…
The Chiefs will be defending Super Bowl champions for the first time in 50 years. GM Brett Veach and the Kansas City front office have made it tough for anyone else to win the AFC West in 2020. They signed quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a 10-year deal worth up to $503 million dollars, extended prized defensive end Chris Jones, etc. However, the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos have been busy and could lead to another AFC West team netting a Wild Card spot.
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Will the Chiefs Repeat as AFC West Champions?
Division Odds: -455
If you want to win the AFC West, you have to go through Kansas City. The Chiefs have won the division for the last four years. They finished with a 12-4 record in 2019, went on one of the most magical postseason runs in NFL history, and upset the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
As I said before though, they were able to keep Patrick Mahomes in KC red for the next decade and keep the right pieces for him. He’s in it for the long haul especially as a part-owner of the Royals and engaged to his longtime girlfriend. However, there are questions with their offensive line with their right guard, Dr. Laurent Duverney-Tardif opting out due to COVID-19 concerns. Damian Williams also left a hole in the backfield with his opt-out. In the 2020 draft, they drafted LSU rookie back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Edwards – Helaire is elusive, fast, and if he is in the open field. Forget about catching him. He scored 16 times in his senior season.
Chiefs finished 7th overall in offense but remember that they came back after being down by 10 points or more in three straight postseason games. He still has the track and field crew in the passing game with Tyreek Hill leading the way. Hill had 58 receptions, 860 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games.
Watch out for this defense. They may not put up the stats, but they make the plays when necessary. Not to mention, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo brought an aggressive, old-school way of defense that helped earned that jewelry on their finger. 17th ranked in 2019? As Al Pacino said in Two for the Money, “stats are not enough, you need a voice.” That voice is safety Tyrann Mathieu.
Fantasy pick: TE Travis Kelce. Ha-ha, you thought I forgot Mahomes’ number one weapon? Kelce was on another level in 2019 with nearly 100 receptions for 1,229 yards and five touchdowns. His 12.7 yards after the catch will make you a fantasy football stud. If you see him on the skinny post or in the middle of the field. It’s a guarantee, Kelce will move the chains.
Is Denver Ready to be a Playoff Team Again?
Division Odds: +900
The Denver Broncos were looking like an old-fashioned team on the rise after they put untested rookie Drew Lock behind center. It became tough to win at Mile High again and that is thanks to head coach Vic Fangio. While the Broncos did finish 7-9, there was something there.
It started in the running game, I was shocked. Shocked! How little of the credit went to running back Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay has been the workhorse to this rough and tumble offense. He has 16 touchdowns in his first two years and not to mention he ran for 1000-plus yards on the ground. While they did bring in Melvin Gordon, he has a history of injuries in LA with the Chargers. Currently, he is dealing with a rib injury and could be out for a few weeks. But, his upside is incredible. His ability as a receiver is hard to argue with 224 receptions, 1,873 yards, and 11 scores.
I’m curious to see if second-year quarterback Drew Lock could be that game manager that Denver needs. He was solid in five starts last year with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He is spoiled with the amount of young weaponry with rising star wideout Courtland Sutton and newly minted rookie Alabama wideout Jerry Jeudy. In his last two years with the Crimson Tide, Jeudy had nearly 2,500 yards and 24 scores. The big question mark is if the offensive line will be able
Be prepared, pack a lunch, have your compass ready because if you are not ready for this vaulted Broncos defense. It will be a long day. Not only will they have Bradley Chubb and Von Miller off the outside but they beefed up their defensive line with former Titans end Jurrell Casey. Chris Harris Jr. will be a loss, but they put a nice successor in there with cornerback A.J. Bouye. This defense went from 22nd in 2018 to 12th under Fangio’s tutelage.
Fantasy pick: WR Courtland Sutton. This kid was destined to be a professional football player. His ability to catch the deep ball, crisp route running is the reason he caught 72 balls for 1,112 yards and six scores. In 2020, expect a big year for Sutton.
Will Las Vegas be Good to the Raiders?
Division Odds: +1000
For the first time in NFL history, the Raiders are out of the state of California. Their new home is Sin City, baby. Las Vegas built the ultimate stadium of silver and black rebellion, it looks like the NFL’s version of the Death Star (first and only Star Wars reference).
The second tenure of Jon Gruden has been good enough. They went from 4-12 to 7-9 and showed a little toughness along the way. The Raiders were a force with their stout offensive line led by free agent tackle Trent Brown off the right side. It led to the creation of a highly productive running game led by rookie back Josh Jacobs. Jacobs was a stellar player to watch in 2019. 242 rushes, 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns. His yards per carry was 4.8. His sophomore year could be better than expected.
All eyes will be on number 4, quarterback Derek Carr. I do not understand the disdain towards Carr. In 2019, he completed 70 percent of his passes, 21 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. The only reason that Carr is being talked about is when Gruden came back to coach the Raiders, Carr was the quarterback. It is that ole argument of when a new coaching staff comes in, they will hitch their star to the next great quarterback. If Carr has a great season, I would highly doubt he is not in Vegas for a long time. But, if he is injured. Then the narrative returns.
Let’s get to the real reason that will separate a 7-9 team to a 10-6 team. This defense has continued to be an issue but there was hope with the double tandem of youth with first-rounder defensive end Clelin Ferrell and undrafted Maxx Crosby who combined for nearly 15 sacks. Keep an eye on that pass-rushing duo. However, this secondary just makes you shake your head. They signed cornerback Prince Amukamara, a few days ago they cut him. Hopefully safety Johnathan Abram can stay healthy, LaMarcus Joyner and Damarious Randall are looking for a recharge in their careers. Though I do like their new linebackers in Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski to join Nicholas Morrow.
Fantasy Pick: TE Darren Waller. What a story this kid was. He was cut by the Ravens, the Raiders threw a flyer out to him and he showed his unreal potential in front of a nation. Waller had 90 catches for 1,145 yards and three scores. He has a new mentor to help him succeed in the veteran tight end Jason Witten. You could not ask for a better person to learn the position from.
Are the Chargers Rebuilding or Not?
Division odds: +1000
Someone help me out here. I have no idea how to judge the Los Angeles Chargers for 2020. Unfortunately, Hard Knocks has been a snooze to get through with this team. Quarterback Philip Rivers headed off to Indianapolis for his twilight years, they drafted the accurate Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert and bring in veteran Tyrod Taylor.
Make no mistake though. This is a loaded roster yet again. Whether it is Taylor or Herbert throwing the ball they will have the speedy Keenan Allen lining up. Allen had 104 receptions for nearly 1200 yards and six touchdowns, along with Mike Williams and tight end Hunter Henry. This offense could be dominant. What about that running game? What about it? Melvin Gordon is gone but Austin Ekeler was given the green light with a four-year deal worth $24.5 million. He has been a solid RB2 for the last three years but now it’s the top spot. It will be interesting.
Unfortunately, the defense will be without safety Derwin James after he tore his meniscus in training camp. It’s a big loss for the secondary but the newly acquired Chris Harris Jr. will balance it out. However, it will be under a microscope. The biggest reason that the Chargers will be in every game is that stingy front seven led by the 140 million dollar man, defensive end Joey Bosa. In four years, Bosa has 40 sacks and showing no sign of slowing down. They acquired run-stopper Linval Joseph to help out the run defense. They drafted Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray Jr. who led the Big 12 in tackles.
Fantasy pick: TE Hunter Henry. Though I am not very high on this offense. Henry showed a lot of moxy as the next successor at tight end. 55 receptions, 652 yards and five touchdowns in 2019. Don’t be surprised if you see him eclipse those numbers this season.
Who Wins the AFC West?
Kansas City Chiefs
Over/Under: 11.5 wins
Take the under. Yes, you heard me. I believe the Chiefs will win the division for the fifth year in a row. However, all three teams improved vastly and will make it tough to run away with this division. I see more of a 10-6 record.
Over. Seriously, over. The Broncos are loaded at the receiver position with Sutton, Jeudy and tight end Noah Fant is going to have a solid year as well. I love this defense because of Fangio’s classic “punch you in the mouth” kind of defense. That front seven will be a menace to handle. Broncos win 9 and compete for the Wild Card.
Las Vegas Raiders
Over/Under: 6.5 wins
Over. I am shellshocked by this amount of disrespect to the Raiders. They are not going to be as bad as people believe. They have a top-ranked offensive line, a running game led by the versatile Josh Jacobs, playmakers at the tight end spot and if Henry Ruggs III turns out to be the deep ball specialist he is. It will be hard to stop this offense. I know this defense has its issues but I really like this front seven to force the punting unit for their opposers. 8 or 9 for the Raiders (if their defense does not let them down).
Los Angeles Chargers
Over/Under: 7.5 wins
Under. While I love this team on paper, there is something that feels off about the Chargers. I think it’s the quarterback position that will keep them down this year. While the defense will be a nasty group to deal with. If the offense can’t stay on the field, it won’t matter. 6 or 7 for LA.
Football can’t come soon enough.