The Kansas City Chiefs currently sit atop the AFC West with a 5-1 record. The next closest is the Las Vegas/Oakland Raiders with a 3-3 mark. On Sunday the Chiefs will host the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers who currently sit third in the division at 2-4. With so much mediocrity in the division that includes the Denver Broncos, I can’t help wondering what the Chiefs’ secret sauce is for dominating the rest of the division.
Sunday afternoon the Kansas City Chiefs host the Los Angeles Chargers in a prime-time CBS slot. As usual, the Chiefs are favored to defeat their AFC West rivals. For the record, regardless of where these teams sit in the standings, during the Patrick Mahomes era, this Chargers game will likely be decided by single digits.
Last Thursday the Chiefs won their 16th straight game against the Denver Broncos. Kansas City hopes to make it 17 straight when they go on the road a week from Sunday for the rematch. First things first, the Chargers head to Arrowhead on a short week after another home loss. This time they fell to the Dallas Cowboys, 20-17.
The Chargers played a sloppy game, and Quarterback Justin Herbert once again flamed out in the clutch. Despite enormous gifts as a passer, and field awareness, not to mention a plethora of coveted offensive weapons, he stands 2-4 on the season, and as an NFL starter, he’s posted a 27-27 mark.
In July, Herbert signed a five-year, $262.5 million dollar deal that includes $218.7 Million in guarantees. Seriously can they not round these numbers up?
This was supposed to be the year that Herbert surpassed Mahomes as the division’s best quarterback. Statistically, Mahomes is behind his usual pace this time of year, so there was hope Herbert could even rally his team to overtake the Chiefs in the AFC West with KC’s offense still sputtering at times.
However, a loss Sunday, and they can forget about division titles or playoffs. Instead, you’ll probably see Offensive Coordinator, Kellen Moore get the head coaching job on an interim basis, after the Spanos family fires current Head Coach, Brandon Staley. Honestly, they should have fired him after his post-season meltdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the wild-card round last January.
As we saw first-hand, the Denver Broncos are also a mess. With just one win in six games, it’s clear Russell Wilson can no longer be counted on to execute an NFL offense. In fact, his passer rating was less than 11.0 against the Chiefs last Thursday, and Head Coach Sean Payton is contemplating cleaning house at the trade deadline. Certainly, that would mean Wilson, who begins his massive extension in 2024, likely gets cut next March.
In Oakland, the Raiders put all their baskets on former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo to defeat the Chiefs this season. Though he’s been a mixed back to date at 3-3, he’s been injury-prone this season and is currently dealing with a back issue after sitting out a game with a concussion.
So, what does this all mean?
Well, outside of Mahomes, there just isn’t a competent quality quarterback that strikes fear into the Chiefs. What’s even more shameful, all three quarterbacks have tremendous weapons at receiver and running back. Though each has issues on the offensive line, they are serviceable to get the job done.
Perhaps it’s coaching?
Josh McDaniels despite the even record, just seems out of place as a head coach. Payton appeared to care more about taking the Walton money versus building a competent coaching staff, that mostly resembles his friends. Now he’s blaming Defensive Coordinator, Vance Joseph, who returned to Denver at the urging of Payton, as the teams’ new scapegoat.
As far as Staley, he was a hot coordinator who has elite talent, but he’s not head coaching material. He’s had multiple seasons to prove, like his quarterback, that they can dethrone the Chiefs. Year after year as their leader, the Chargers are the flavor of the fall, but once Winter hits their offense goes cold, and their defense disappears. Now they’ve dealt with a lot of injuries in his tenure, but perhaps the training staff isn’t good enough either.
The bottom line is the Chiefs were built on one principle, to build a team that others must defeat. The Chargers, Raiders, and Broncos keep building teams that can defeat Kansas City. Instead, they should adopt the Chiefs style and build teams the Chiefs must defeat. It sounds so simple, but it’s the same thing that happened in the AFC East for two decades when the New England Patriots dominated the division.
The AFC West has become the new AFC East, and until either Denver, Los Angeles or Las Vegas find the next Mahomes, or take my advice, I can’t see anything changing. Chiefs are destined to win their eighth straight division title in November.