The defending champion Kansas City Chiefs are bringing back all their essential pieces for the 2020 season and are favored to win the AFC West for a fifth straight year. They have a kind of certainty no other team in the division can come close to with Patrick Mahomes throwing to top-notch targets like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
In 2019 the Chiefs had a five-game lead over the next best squad in the division by the end of the regular season. There could be more of the same in 2020. We break down the title odds of each team here.
Kansas City Chiefs (Feb: -500, Post-draft: -400)
Notable additions: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire*, LB Willie Gay Jr.*
Notable departures: DE Emmanuel Ogbah, LB Reggie Ragland, OG Stefen Wisniewski, CB Kendall Fuller
The Chiefs thought they might have to cut ties with Sammy Watkins, but were able to restructure his deal and place a franchise tag on Chris Jones. This maximizes the potential of their receiving corps, and gives Mecole Hardman more time to develop as a consistent pass catcher.
Kansas City wasn’t able to get a consistent rushing attack from Williams, but got a steal by drafting LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round to improve backfield depth. The running back can provide the same kind of dynamic pass catching ability out of the backfield and is the perfect fit for the Chiefs’ West Coast offense. Kansas City was significantly better than the rest of the field before adding talent in the draft. It’s still a lock to win the AFC West.
Denver Broncos (Feb: +1000, Post-draft: +800)
Notable additions: DE Jurrell Casey, CB A.J. Bouye, RB Melvin Gordon, C Graham Glasgow, WR Jerry Jeudy*, WR KJ Hamler
Notable departures: CB Chris Harris Jr., DE Derek Wolfe, C Connor McGovern
The Broncos addressed their abysmal receiving corps in the 2020 draft by adding Jerry Jeudy and KJ Halmer in hopes that they can combine well with Courtland Sutton. It also added talent to the backfield by pairing Phillip Lindsay with Melvin Gordon. Denver finished second in the division with Drew Lock and has raised its ceiling.
While the Broncos are better on paper, it appears like they’ll largely depend on rookies to carry them in the passing game. While they have potential, they haven’t proven that they can stack up against the talent on the Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. Lock will have to improve with his new targets to keep up with competitors, who have also added young prospects.
Los Angeles Chargers (Feb: +1100, Post-draft: +900)
Notable additions: CB Chris Harris Jr., LB Nick Vigil, OT Bryan Bulaga, OG Trai Turner, DT Linval Joseph, QB Justin Herbert*, LB Kenneth Murray*
Notable departures: QB Philip Rivers, LB Thomas Davis, OT Russell Okung
The Chargers have the second most talent in the division with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, Austin Ekeler, and a host of quality defensive backs and pass rushers. They just need to figure out who their starting quarterback is. Tyrod Taylor isn’t in Los Angeles’ long-term plans and will have to battle it out with rookie signal caller Justin Herbert in 2020. Will the Chargers start Taylor until he proves he’s inadequate or go with Herbert from the start? Either way, the player they choose won’t be better than Philip Rivers was from 2016 to 2018. That won’t be good enough to challenge Kansas City, but could lead to a second place finish.
Las Vegas Raiders (Feb: +900, Post-draft: +1000)
Notable additions: LB Cory Littleton, TE Jason Witten, DT Maliek Collins, S Damarious Randall, WR Henry Ruggs III*, CB Damon Arnette*
Notable departures: CB Daryl Worley, LB Tahir Whitehead, S Karl Joseph
The Raiders improved in more ways than one in Jon Gruden’s second year leading the team. Derek Carr had a career year and Darren Waller emerged as a promising tight end. But the team has made some interesting moves this offseason. Las Vegas brought in Marcus Mariota to back up Carr, Jason Witten to back up Waller, and unexpectedly made Henry Ruggs III the first wideout off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft. There’s still a ton of uncertainty surrounding the Raiders. It would be a surprise if they finished better than third in the division in 2020.
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