AFC West overview, predictions and projected records

The NFL’s division system actually creates a collection of small economic markets. In the soft NFC East, for example, the level of competition means it takes relatively little to become a division champion. The AFC West has become the polar opposite. The Chiefs have had their way with this division recently, taking the last six titles. But now every other opponent has assembled their own version of a superteam. Perhaps they were spurred on by the realization that Kansas City’s quarterback Patrick Mahomeswho is tied to the franchise until 2031 isn’t going anywhere and they can’t just wait until he’s gone.

Last year, the Chargers showed they were willing to commit. Behind the 24-year-old quarterback prodigy Justin Herbert and a 39-year-old rookie head coach Brandon Staley, they made a legitimate playoff appearance, losing 35-32 in overtime to Las Vegas in the season finale. In the offseason, Los Angeles addressed a defense that ranked 23rd in the league, signing two difference-makers at cornerback JC Jackson from the Patriots and edge rusher Khalil Mack from the Bears. Expect Mack and his colleague Joey Bosa to have many encounters with the opposing defender.

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