Post-Draft and Free Agency AFC West Power Rankings

Dec 8, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a pass as Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford (55) rushes during the game at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 8, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a pass as Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford (55) rushes during the game at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

Power rankings for the AFC West following free agency and the 2017 NFL Draft.

We are now in the dead period of the NFL offseason. Most, if not all recognizable NFL free agents have signed to news teams, the NFL Draft has now been over for nearly two weeks, and we are now entertaining ourselves by watching the new influx of talent in their rookie mini-camps — particularly for the AFC West.

Factoring all of that in, all four teams in the AFC West have gotten considerably stronger, and it has made the division that much harder to win. The beginning of the regular season is just a little over four months away, and many sports outlets have already released their own power rankings.

Many will notice the Raiders are at or near the top, but how do they stack up within the division?

#4 – Los Angeles Chargers

Although from top to bottom, the AFC West is the strongest division in football, someone has to come in last place in the power rankings. In this case, it is the Los Angeles Chargers.

Last season, the Chargers finished last in the division with a record of 5-11. The record in this instance does not quite show how competitive the Chargers were not only in the division, but in the entire NFL. The Chargers beat teams such as the Falcons, Broncos and the Texans and gave the Raiders and the Chiefs fits last season.

Going into 2017, the Chargers shored up their offensive line by signing Russell Okung and drafting guards Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney. These were wise moves when you look at all the elite pass rushers that reside in the division.

Two things do remain constant, though. Phillip Rivers is the quarterback, and Joey Bosa is coming off of the edge. Both players can change the outcomes of games just based off of their pure ability. Look for this team to be a thorn in the sides of everyone in the division.

#3 – Denver Broncos

If you look at who has dominated the AFC West the past six years, the Broncos usually come to mind. Ever since the retirement of Peyton Manning, you will see that the Broncos’ past formula of mediocre offense and above average defense did not quite work in 2016.

The Broncos finished with a 9-7 record, and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Although the Broncos started the season out strong, it was clear that they were missing something at the quarterback position, and with the departures of Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan, the middle of the Broncos defense suffered.

The Broncos had a free agent haul of Zach Kerr, Domata Peko and Kasim Edebali. Denver also tried to shore up the trenches by drafting OT Garrett Boles, and DT Demarcus Walker. While the Broncos had a decent offseason, they could have possibly found a late-round gem in Jake Butt who was slotted to be one of the top tight ends in the class before he got hurt. Look for the Broncos to rebound, and make some more noise going into 2017.

#2 – Oakland Raiders

Out of the four teams, if you combine both free agency and the draft, I believe that the Raiders had the best offseason out of everyone in the division, and seems to be the strongest team going into 2017. Last season the Raiders went 12-4 and were on the cusp of winning the division, and then Derek Carr broke his leg.

The Raiders were able to add veterans Jared Cook, Jelani Jenkins, Cordarrelle Patterson, but most fans found this offseason a huge win by acquiring Oakland native Marshawn Lynch.

The Raiders also added a ton of talent through the draft by drafting notables Gareon Conley, Obi Melifonwu, and Eddie Vanderdoes. All three players, as well as some of the late round prospects, all seem to be players that could make an immediate impact on this Raiders roster.

When you take all of this into account, its hard to not put the Raiders at no. 1 in the division, but you have to remember that the Raiders have struggled mightily against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders have lost the last five meetings, and it has seemed to be the one team that Derek Carr cannot seem to figure out.

Until that changes, I will reserve the right to say that the Raiders are the second best team in this division. The Raiders will get two more chances this year to prove to not only the Chiefs, but themselves that they are the class of the AFC West.

#1 – Kansas City Chiefs

As much as it pains me to say, your number one team in the division as of right now are the Kansas City Chiefs. Last season the Chiefs went 6-0 within the division and went 12-4 overall to take the AFC West crown.

So far in 2017, the Chiefs were able to retain the services of Eric Berry and Daniel Sorensen, as well as adding Bennie Logan and Mike Person via free agency. The Chiefs drafted notables Patrick Mahomes, Tanoh Kpassagnon and Kareem Hunt.

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The Chiefs invested somewhat heavily into moving up in the draft to take Mahomes, and me personally, I think it was the worst thing to happen from a Raiders fan point of view.

Pairing that up with Kareem Hunt, and the Chiefs offense will be able to take that next step along with the defense. Mahomes was considered to be a project, so I would expect Alex Smith to be the starter going into the season, but expect Mahomes to take the starting job sooner rather than later.

Seeing Derek Carr face off against Mahomes has the potential to be the next great quarterback rivalry. When you add in the animosity between both teams, this Chiefs-Raiders rivalry could go to the next level.