City ChiefsCity Chiefs

The AFC West appellation was accomplished to get wrested from the Kansas City Chiefs this season, yet their analysis rivals dug themselves into big holes already again.

There’s still a algebraic adventitious the Raiders (7-8) or Broncos (7-8) could bolt the Chiefs (9-6) afterward Las Vegas’ 20-14 win at Arrowhead on Christmas Day, but a lot would accept to band up for one of them to bound K.C.

The arresting but ambiguous Super Bowl champions accept endemic the analysis back 2016, back Patrick Mahomes was still casting it in Lubbock, Texas, and few Swifties knew who Travis Kelce was unless they additionally happened to be admirers of the brilliant bound end’s absoluteness dating appearance “Catching Kelce.”

If the Chiefs authority on to affirmation their eighth afterwards analysis crown, they’ll nonetheless arch into the playoffs with added catechism marks than they’ve had back Mahomes became their starting quarterback in 2018 afterwards confined a year as Alex Smith’s apprentice.

The Chiefs can no best acquire the No. 1 berry and the first-round bye in the AFC, which agency in their five-year run as host of the AFC championship will about absolutely appear to an end, as will Mahomes’ amazing band of arena every distinct one of his AFC postseason amateur at home.

Mahomes’ receivers accept been butterfingers all season, which should accept jeopardized their cachet as the AFC West’s better annoyer if only:

City Chiefs
City Chiefs

The Broncos hadn’t absent at home to underdogs led by the brand of the Raiders’ Jimmy Garoppolo, the Commanders’ Sam Howell, the Jets’ Zach Wilson and the Patriots Bailey Zappe, a less-than-fearsome aggregation of quarterbacks who are a accumulated 9-23 adjoin everybody abroad this season.

Raiders buyer Mark Davis hadn’t been so amorous with Josh McDaniels, who austere with the Broncos and bailed on the Colts, that he bypassed Rich Bisaccia for the fulltime arch apprenticeship job afterwards his longtime appropriate teams coordinator took over for the accursed Jon Gruden in 2021 and went 7-5, arch the Raiders to the playoffs.

The Chargers had begin a way to get their stars out of the training allowance aboideau and assuredly capitalized on a talent-laden agenda and quarterback Justin Herbert’s skillset afore he was absent for the division with a feel abrasion beforehand this month.

While the Chargers afresh bootless to alive up to their billing, the Broncos and Raiders absolutely fabricated some strides, admitting in fits and starts, in 2023.

The Chargers stumbled afresh and absent Herbert for the division in a Anniversary 14 accident to Denver, again accursed drillmaster Brandon Staley afterward L.A.’s awkward 63-21 accident to the Raiders a anniversary later.

The Broncos airtight their 16-game accident band to the Chiefs with a aural 24-7 win on Oct. 29 as they recovered from a 1-5 blunder to alpha the division and accompany the awash AFC playoff race. But they accept yet to accomplishment a anniversary in playoff position and they followed a five-game acceptable band with three losses in four games, including back-to-back to Detroit and New England the aftermost two weeks.

The Raiders angry to acting arch drillmaster Antonio Pierce afterwards auctioning McDaniels with a 9-16 record, and Pierce has gone 4-3 with several signature wins, starting with a 30-0 wipeout of the Giants, whom he already played for, that 63-21 win over the Chargers that accustomed a authorization single-game scoring almanac and the agitated in Kansas City on Monday.

And yes, the Chargers looked like a altered aggregation beneath acting drillmaster Giff Smith aftermost weekend alike admitting the aftereffect was all too familiar. The Bolts’ 24-22 accident to the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night was their sixth by three credibility or beneath this division and their league-leading 13th back 2020.

The accident additionally clearly alone the Chargers from postseason altercation and alone their almanac to 5-10, although buyer Dean Spanos about pulled the bung on the division Dec. 15 back he accursed Staley and accepted administrator Tom Telesco afterwards their awkward accident at Las Vegas.

The Chargers did two things adjoin the Bills that weren’t axiomatic in their antecedent two amateur — they had activity and played acclimatized football.

“The bold plan was tight. I feel like all anniversary continued we had fun and executed,” assurance Derwin James said. “We aloof came out a few plays abbreviate today. You’ve apparent a aggregation that was out there aggravating to action hard.”

Maybe that bodes able-bodied for the Bolts’ future, aloof as the Raiders’ improvement and the Broncos’ bounce-back accord them achievement that 2024 will assuredly be their year.

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