Ranking AFC West head coaches before 2024 free agency

It's maybe the most stacked division in football.

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders
Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders / Jeff Bottari/GettyImages
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3. Broncos' Sean Payton

I'm not convinced that Payton belongs at 3 (as opposed to 4), but that's what a Super Bowl title gets you. The wins speak for themselves: he's won 62% of the games he's coached over a 16-year career, and in 15 years with the Saints, got to double digit wins nine times. His Drew Brees-led offense was consistently one of, if not the, best in the NFL, and his coaching tree has some hits as well. The onsides kick to start the 2nd half of that Super Bowl will go down as one of the ... boldest ... calls of all time.

Still, the bountygate stuff is hard to look past, and being suspended without pay for an entire year is a blemish on his resume. There have been plenty of succesful coaches who don't have redeemably personalities, but Payton's public abrasiveness certainly doesn't help his case. Maybe time proves that alienating Russell Wilson to the level that Payton did was the right move for the Broncos, but right now it just looks like an ego play. It also doesn't help that the Broncos didn't look particularly good last season – a run of unreliable turnover success hid what was otherwise a very bad team. It's too early to judge his time in Denver, but he's clearly a step down from the AFC West coaching elite.

4. Raiders' Antonio Pierce

More than anything, Pierce coming in last is a sample size issue. He was well regarded as an assistant coach with both the Raiders and before at Arizona State, but he simply doesn't have the experience to match up against three future Hall of Famers. With that being said, if you wanted to put Pierce above Payton, I wouldn't stop you. He found a way to put out the Josh McDaniels dumpster fire, probably saving Davante Adams and Maxx Crosby trades in the process. It's obvious that players love playing for him, and he brings exactly the type of attitude that Raiders fans want from their football team. If they can figure out the quarterback situation, these power rankings may look a lot different in a year.

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