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AFC West: NFL’s toughest division to be free-for-all

Without question, the AFC West sent the football world into a tizzy this offseason with a bunch of moves that left heads spinning and created a super division.

This will not be for the faint of heart, as talent abounds and four of the league’s best 12 or so quarterbacks will be behind center.

That includes the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, who is arguably the best in the game, rising star Justin Herbert with the Chargers and Russell Wilson, the former Seahawks star who is now with the Broncos.

Meanwhile in Las Vegas, Derek Carr has been perched just outside the top 10 quarterbacks in the league, and now gets to work every Sunday with dynamic wide receiver Davante Adams, perhaps the best wideout in the game, along with tight end Darren Waller and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, two of the best players at their respective positions in the NFL.

For the first time in decades, the Raiders go into every game with the confidence they can deal with even the most dangerous opponents on a talent-for-talent basis.

That includes on defense, where potent pass rusher Chandler Jones will now play opposite Pro Bowl edge rusher Maxx Crosby.

Behind them, a much better linebacking and secondary provide support, giving the Raiders the potential for their best defense in years.

The Chiefs traded away Tyreek Hill, their lethal pass receiver and the perfect complement to Mahomes and Travis Kelce, and that loss may open the door for the Raiders, Chargers or Broncos.

But someone is going to have to prove they can topple the Chiefs. Until that happens, the division title goes through Kansas City, with the Raiders close behind in second.

Kansas City Chiefs

VS. RAIDERS: Oct. 10, Arrowhead Stadium; Jan. 8, Allegiant Stadium

KEY ADDITIONS: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

KEY SUBTRACTIONS: WR Tyreek Hill, S Tyrann Mathieu, DE Melvin Ingram

OUTLOOK: The Chiefs were the one team in the division to take a step back in personnel after making the decision to trade dynamic wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. No doubt the Chiefs still have quarterback Patrick Mahomes, All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce and all the brilliance of Andy Reid. The wide receiver additions of Valdes-Scantling and Smith-Schuster will add firepower. But it will be a different-looking Chiefs offense.


Los Angeles Chargers

VS. RAIDERS: Sep. 11, SoFi Stadium. Dec. 4, Allegiant Stadium

KEY ADDITIONS: CB J.C. Jackson, DE/OLB Khalil Mack, DT Sebastian Joseph-Day

KEY SUBTRACTIONS: DT Justin Jones, DT Linval Joseph, LB Kyzir White

OUTLOOK: The Chargers did well for themselves with the defensive additions of J.C. Jackson and Khalil Mack, although Jackson could be out to start the season with an ankle injury. And without question, they have one of the most dynamic young quarterbacks in the game in Justin Herbert. Coupled with a talent-laden roster and a bright young head coach, the Chargers are poised for a playoff run and in any other division would be considered the favorite.


Denver Broncos

VS. RAIDERS: Oct. 2, Allegiant Stadium. Nov. 20, Empower Field at Mile High

KEY ADDITIONS: QB Russell Wilson, E/OLB Randy Gregory, LB Alex Singleton

KEY SUBTRACTIONS: QB Teddy Bridgewater, QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant.

OUTLOOK: For a few years now, the thought was the Broncos were just a quarterback away from legitimate contention. Well, they went out and acquired Russell Wilson for a bushel of draft picks and young players. It was a win-now move, and it certainly has a chance to pay off. That said, the Broncos now have to prove they really were just a QB away. But Super Bowl worthy? Division champion worthy? Not so fast.

FINISH: Fourth

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