The AFC West was a division that many saw to have more questions than answers going into the 2015 Season. The Denver Broncos moved on from former head coach John Fox, after the team failed to advance the conference championship when they reached the Super Bowl a season prior. They replaced him in favor of former Broncos offensive coordinator and Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak.
Both the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers finished last season with a winning record, but neither could not make the playoffs. With the idea of not missing out once again, both teams made some big acquisitions in the offseason to make a push against the Broncos, with the likes of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin joining the Chiefs and the Chargers trading up for running back Melvin Gordon in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Then there are the Oakland Raiders, who had a horrendous 2014 season as they fired Dennis Allen midseason and finished the year with Tony Sparano as interim head coach. They decided to hire hometown man Jack Del Rio in hopes of bringing the Silver and Black back to the promise land.
While many expected the gaps in the division to be tighter in 2015, after one half of the regular season, it seems to be a surefire pick on who will host a playoff game in January now.
Denver Broncos: 7-1
Oakland Raiders: 4-4
Kansas City Chiefs: 3-5
San Diego Chargers: 2-6
If you told anyone before the season that future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning would throw more interceptions than touchdowns after one half of the regular season, many experts would be baffled. However, it has been one of his worst seasons in his illustrious career (nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions) and it would be safe to assume that the team would be in trouble losing their crowns as division leaders, but that also is not the case.
The defense of the Broncos have carried the team to start the year with seven consecutive victories, only dropping last Sunday's match-up against the Indianapolis Colts with a very questionable move by cornerback Aqib Talib. They are the best in scoring, passing and total yardage defense in the league after nine weeks, and it seems that it will continue to be that way until the season's end. While the defense has been stellar, the offense needs to wake up sooner than later, especially with Peyton Manning at the helm, if they want to challenge for their second Super Bowl in three seasons.
Everyone knew about the young rotation that the Oakland Raiders would behold after the 2015 NFL Draft. Second year quarterback Derek Carr, running back Latavius Murray and rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper looked to not only exceed offseason expectations but go for glory, and they indeed have done so.
Derek Carr has over 2,000 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and only four interceptions, while Latavius Murray is on pace for over 1,000 rushing yards with 4.8 yards per carry, and Amari Cooper looking to go over 1,000 receiving yards in his rookie season, with 653 already notched up this season.
However, they hold the worst passing defense in the league after eight games, despite veteran defensive back Charles Woodson having five interceptions this season. Their young passing defense needs to step up over the second half of the year if they want to go against all odds and bring this Jack Del Rio-led team to their first postseason appearance since their last Super Bowl run in 2002.
Some experts believed that the Chiefs were to be prime contenders to dethrone the Broncos as top dogs in the division, and they would have the pieces in order to do so. Quarterback Alex Smith already does a dependable job on the offense with running back Jamaal Charles backing him up and tight end Travis Kelce being a security blanket for that passing offense, while linebackers like Justin Houston and Tamba Hali pressure the quarterback on defense.
Unfortunately, the season has not go as swimmingly as expected, losing Jamaal Charles for the season and dealing with crucial losses at home, especially against the Broncos and the Chicago Bears. While they are not completely out of the playoff race, a more consistent and valiant team effort might lead the charge for the Chiefs. Kansas City is coming off of the bye week after a confidence boosting win against the Detroit Lions two weeks back.
It has been a very tough and unfortunate run for the San Diego Chargers over the past month of the season. They have lost their last five games with all of them coming down to eight points or less, and they have also lost number one wide receiver Keenan Allen for the rest of the season.
Despite leading the league in passing yards and holding a top five offense, those will look to most-likely falter and cost the Chargers many games throughout the final stretch of the season, as the team is the fifth-worst scoring defense in the league. The San Diego Chargers have dealt with adversity on and off the field, with high potential of the team relocating to Los Angeles, as it may be one fatal blow to what could soon become the end of many ups and downs in San Diego franchise history.
The AFC West is another AFC division that seems to be slipping away from the teams looking up at the division leaders. The Broncos might already be a lock for taking the division crown once again. However, with the rest of the season to be played, can one of these teams realistically make a push for the postseason? It will be an interesting ride, with the AFC West being the division with the most divisional games remaining for the rest of the season.