Editor's Note: This blog is part of a series Flappr's Way-Too-Early NFL Predictions for 2022 Season. To read our previews for the other divisions in the NFL click on the corresponding link: AFC North - NFC East - NFC North (more to come).
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs certainly shocked the football world when they traded Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins, and it was the biggest loss of a player for any team in the division. However, with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce still there to build around, the Chiefs will still be contenders to win it all.
In 2021, it seemed the Chiefs had lost their way the first half of the season. They were 5-4 after 9 weeks, and both sides of the ball looked lost. They had seemingly fallen in love with the big play to Tyreek Hill on offense, forgetting that moving the ball effectively with Kelce and Clyde Edwards-Helaire is what opens up the big plays down the field.
On defense, Tyrann Matthieu left in free agency, and there seems to be a lot of younger players moving into the lineup to compensate for the large cap numbers of Frank Clark and Chris Jones. They will be focused on stopping the big plays and being good enough to let their offense win games for them.
The Chief’s schedule is one of the top 5 toughest based on their opponents 2021 win percentages. They don’t play a non-playoff caliber team until Week 10 this year, and probably only have 3 of those games all year.
̶O̶a̶k̶l̶a̶n̶d̶ Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders certainly added one of the biggest names added to their roster, when they traded for Davante Adams. By coming to Las Vegas, he rejoins his Fresno State teammate and friend, Derek Carr.
While nobody knows for sure why Adams wanted to leave Green Bay and a Hall of Fame QB, it is Las Vegas.
I personally believe that Aaron Rodgers convinced him to try the ayahuasca tea, and then started explaining his new tattoo idea while Davante was feeling the effects. As he started coming back to normal, the diarrhea kicked in, and it was “So long Green Bay!” after that.
Overall, you still have to wonder if the Raiders have overcome their tendency to trip themselves up in the front office. New coach Josh McDaniels hopefully learned from his disastrous stay in Denver, and the offense has plenty of weapons with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow having big years in 2021.
McDaniels comes from the Patriots, so he will probably change his attack around from week to week, making it hard to predict who will be getting the workload in any given game. The offense’s weakest link is the offensive line, followed by their depth. Injuries could really weaken this attack.
The defense is similar to the offense, in that the starters look good, but there isn’t much depth. They added Chandler Jones opposite Maxx Crosby, but they are also trying to move to a 3-4 defense, which they don’t have all the personnel to do.
This team made the playoffs last year, but was generally seen to have overachieved. While the skill positions look good, the lack of depth may make winning tough during the season.
The Broncos have been known as a team with a good defense, but the offense didn’t have a QB to lead them to the playoffs. Denver addressed that issue by trading for Russell Wilson during the offseason, so their hopes are mile high.
The Broncos also have a first year coach in Nathaniel Hackett, who came from the Packers. By the end of 2021, the rushing attack had taken off with Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon. They also have a talented set of receivers with Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton. Just like the Raiders, the offensive line is their biggest weakness, which is concerning since Russ likes to hold on to the ball.
The defense has been pretty good, but there are some new faces this year. They traded Von Miller last year, but they are still a team that can rush the passer effectively, which might be important considering the rest of the division likes to throw the ball. The secondary is good, but they can be streaky.
This team will look to challenge for a division title this year, and they will be able to use their last place schedule to their advantage.
Prediction: 11-6-0 (DIVISION WINNER)
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers
I imagine the Chargers know how the Jets have always felt, being the second occupant of a stadium when the main occupant is headed to win a Super Bowl. In fact, they get to be the visiting "home" team against the Rams in Week 17 this year.
The only positive thing the Spanos family has done for Chargers fans lately is to bring back the powder blue to the jersey.
The Chargers didn’t make quite the splash that the Broncos and Raiders did, but they did bring in J.C. Jackson and Khalil Mack to try to shore up the defense. With an exciting offense and an improved defense, the Chargers hope to shake the disappointing label they have earned over the years.
The offense brings back rising stars QB Justin Herbert and RB Austin Ekeler on offense, and they re-signed Mike Williams at WR. The offense usually has plenty of firepower, but last year they had games where nothing seemed to work for them. Their biggest holes seem to be at right tackle tight end, where below average players fill the spot.
On defense, several additions bring hope to the team. With Joey Bosa drawing attention on the defensive line, Mack will be able to rush the passer more effectively. The secondary looks pretty good with J.C. Jackson, but could still use another solid safety opposite Derwin James.
Overall, it looks like the team addressed some of its weaknesses in the offseason, but will it be enough to win the AFC West? Their schedule is easier than the Chiefs, but not that much.