It isn’t too often I can write about both divisions I cover in just one article but after the first week in the 2021 NFL season, the AFC West and the NFC West divisions have one pretty impressive thing in common. Every team in both divisions won their first games. That makes me able to say, without question, the West is currently Best in the NFL.
Yeah yeah, it’s just the first week. And yeah yeah, none of them played a divisional opponent. But it wasn’t just the fact they won their games, but how they won them that made it impressive.
With the Pro Football Hall of Fame game and induction ceremonies over, we are just days away from week one of the 2021 NFL preseason. For what has seemed like an eternity, we have been waiting to get our eyes on new players, new coaches, and new schemes. Soon, that day will arrive.
Now for some teams, not much will change. Like both Super Bowl teams from last season, a few teams kept the majority of their players and all of their coaching staff. But the majority of teams have had some pretty big changes. Changes that could turn the fate of an entire franchise.
Now, we all know that preseason games aren’t real games. They are glorified practices that help the team decide who makes the final roster. But they also offer opportunities. Opportunities for unknown players to become know. For players far down the depth chart to move up. Opportunities for fans to find new fan favorites.
There is seriously tough competition in the AFC West. It is home to the AFC Champion from the last two seasons.
In a division that has one of, if not the, strongest teams in the league, how did the other 3 franchises look to add to their rosters in order to compete with the Patrick Mahomes/Andy Reid machine in Kansas City? Pretty well according to many in the business.
Let’s take a look at each team in the division and their draft picks.
Las Vegas Raiders
With the Raiders splitting the season at 8-8 last season, they knew they didn’t need a complete overhaul in order to get better. However, the grades given to this year’s Raiders draft were mostly B’s and C’s, with one D coming in from Vinny Iver from Sporting News.
The 2020 NFL season is winding down and every game is starting to have a massive impact on the playoffs. Teams are locking in their seeding, while others are fighting just to get in. For the AFC West, it is all wrapped up. The Kansas City Chiefs have the top seed, while the other teams are all out. But in the NFC West, there is still some wiggle room surrounding the playoffs.
The Chiefs, once again, dominated their division. While their only loss so far this year was in division, to the Las Vegas Raiders, they were never really in danger of not winning the division. Kansas City wrapped up the AFC West title last week, and this week did the same for the number 1 seed in the entire AFC. They will have a bye week to start the playoffs, and home-field advantage throughout.
The Chiefs are going to be dominant in this league for years.
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A blowout that no one expected, and a blowout that should have been but wasn’t. The wonder kid quarterback that can’t win, and the team without any quarterbacks at all. All of this sums up a very odd week in the AFC West. A week that was basically the definition of 2020.
2 points. 7 points. 5 points. That was how close all the games for the AFC West were this weekend. The Week 9 matchups were stressful nailbiters for all 4 teams. At the end of it all, the standings pretty much stayed the same but proved this division could get fun down the road.
Carolina Panthers 31
Kansas City Chiefs 33
The Kansas City Chiefs held on for a 2 point win over the Carolina Panthers in an early game on Sunday, but it wasn’t an easy win in any way. The Panthers came into this game ready to fight. They had nothing to lose. They also had their superstar running back, Christian McCaffrey, back from injury. The entire team started off hot and kept the pressure on the Chiefs the entire game.
There is a power struggle going on in the AFC West. Just looking at the standings, it would seem the Kansas City Chiefs have all the power. But that’s the problem with just looking at one statistic, it doesn’t give you a full picture.
Taking a look at Week 7 for the AFC West, there are chances for that power to shift. Maybe not fully, but slightly. Quietly. In a way that may affect the playoffs down the road. Let’s look at each of the games and how they could change the AFC West.
I’m not sure how it happened. Just like the rest of 2020, the first quarter of the season has flown by. It is hard to believe that we are already a quarter of the way through the 2020 season, and yet, it seems like it’s been forever since preseason was canceled.
While the NFL seemed to have a good handle on the COVID-19 protocols, and the season would go off without much of a hitch, this last week has proven that they aren’t completely out of the woods.
We have seen some fans in the stands, but most are still empty, which in turn has seemed to have spurred on a scoring frenzy in the games. The 2020 season so far has the highest average score of any season in history. No fans, no fan noise, no interference in offensive communications.
It was a successful first week for the AFC West. Three of the four teams came out winners. The Denver Broncos lost to the Tennessee Titans in the last seconds of the game. The Kansas City Chiefs opened the season with a Thursday night win. The Los Angeles Chargers squeaking out a win in a low scoring affair against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Las Vegas Raiders get their first win for their new city.
While a couple of the games were close, they all showed new schemes. Looking at week 2, can we expect even more changes? Let’s take a look at each matchup, including a divisional game that could get interesting.