2022 AFC WEST OUTLOOK
Chiefs Focus @ChiefsFocus
The NFL is back, and what an off-season for the AFC West. The moves by all four teams not appear evenly matched but could be named the best division in all of the league entering the 2022 season.
All four teams had high-profile moves that dominated the league news feeds this offseason. The Chiefs decided to trade All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill, adding extra picks including making room to sign guys like JuJu-Smith-Schuster, Ronald Jones II and Justin Reid. It started when the Raiders decided to trade for Derek Carr’s best friend from Fresno State, All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams and then adding All-Pro edge rusher Chandler Jones to play opposite Max Crosby. Khalil Mack returning to the Wild West this time as a Charger to play opposite Joey Bosa. Let’s not forget the Broncos trading a good amount of capital including up and coming tight end Noah Fant for All-Pro, former World Champion quarterback from the Seahawks, Russell Wilson aka MR. UNLIMITED.
Here’s what to look for in the AFC West this season and my bold prediction with shock many:
Player to watch:
Davante Adams, WR, Raiders
Davante Adams is reunited with his college quarterback Derek Carr. His ability to thrive as a true No. 1 receiver completely changes any offense he’s a part of and his ability to win both outside and from the slot opens up so many options for what an offense can do with him. Las Vegas didn’t have many great options in the passing game last season. Now with the addition of Adams, his presence opens up things
for Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. I think he also help Carr have his best statistical season in his career.
George Karlaftis, DE, Chiefs
After trading up for one of the best rookie corners in Washington star Trent McDuffie with the No. 21 overall pick, The Chiefs likely figured it had no chance of snagging an edge rusher with Nick Bosa like skills in Karlaftis with the No. 30 overall pick in April’s draft, but the Purdue star fell into the spot where Kansas City wanted him. Hard-hitting and organized in the front seven, Karlaftis should be an instant upgrade for the Chiefs Defensive end room. Karlaftis should start at left defensive end right away, giving the team another playmaker to join Chris Jones and Frank Clark wreak havoc in 2022.
Coach in the hot seat:
Brandon Staley, Chargers
Staley was appointed head coach of the Chargers after his successful stint as Rams defensive coordinator in 2020 where they finished as the No. 1 defense in the league. I know some are questioning his decision making especially going for it all on 4th down every ball game— He did all of that in his first season in Los Angeles — those decisions led to his team his team to a disappointing finish with a 9-8 record and getting beat by the Raiders for the final playoff slot in the AFC playoff picture last season. But Staley has another chance to try and meet every national media pundit expectations of challenging the Chiefs for the West with the key upgrade additions of veteran All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack and former Patriots All-Pro cornerback J.C. Jackson on defense. He will have to show he understands how to lead a team this year for a franchise that always expects to be in the playoffs. The window for coaches in the NFL is short especially depending upon a right out of the gate success and with these moves by the Chargers, no excuses.
Chiefs at Raiders, Week 18
The two teams also meet Week 5 on Monday Night Football at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, but the late-season matchup could be key in deciding the division champion if it’s not decided by Week
15-16. Las Vegas decided to gamble by trading for Adams, but his presence and other pieces around him make this team competitive. New coach Josh McDaniels also returns to the AFC West since he coached the Broncos in 2010.
Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes is back leading the Chiefs with an impressive post-Tyreek supporting cast, including Travis Kelce, JuJu, Marques Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman and Skyy Moore. Oh yeah, the Chiefs still have the best coach in the NFL in Andy Reid. All four teams in this division could make the playoffs, but these two in my opinion may have the best chance than the Chargers and Broncos.
That’s right, I wouldn’t be surprised if based on on the storyline between these two rivals since the beginning of the AFL days of Lamar Hunt and Al Davis would lead to two amazing games and a possible AFC championship game match up between the two. I think the Raiders in my opinion are more of a threat to watch for in 2022 in the AFC West to the Chiefs than the Chargers with the big time moves and the Broncos gambling as well for Russell Wilson who might not be the same player he was in Seattle. They would have to score almost 40+ points per game to win games but their defense could be very underrated as new Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham adopts Bill Belichick’s “Bending but don’t break” philosophy which could be a challenge to the other teams.
I think we should expect the Raiders to play their style of football and this is the season that they’ll be honoring the late great John Madden this season. The Raiders was Madden’s team but Andy Reid is his type of guy. I believe Madden himself would want this matchup to happen in his honor. I think both Mahomes and Carr could finish Top 3 in MVP voting but in the end MVPat and the Chiefs will prevail and still going into Arizona for Super Bowl 57. To end this, Just because I’m saying the Raiders will be a playoff team doesn’t give David Carr an excuse to act like a fool and make ridiculous predictions for his brother’s team.
Derek Carr/Davante Adams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6YbFPt30gQ&t=79s Chandler Jones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4npZHQqBOI&t=72s JC Jackson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRdQn0enB4k
Khalil Mack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUxn4fpXDy8
Russell Wilson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6tOmoQrGxk
George Karlaftis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3Ssbr5oU9M&t=124s