Post 2021-22 NFL Season Review of AFC West

Post 2021-22 NFL Season Review of AFC West
Wed 23rd February 2022

After a thrilling season, the NFL is officially over for another year. So, the team at SportsTips thought it would be a good idea to go through every team in the AFC West, and have a look at the year that was!

Denver Broncos

Despite finishing the season in fourth place in the AFC West, the Denver Broncos look incredibly promising going forward. This team had a top-ten defense that excelled in defending the pass. They also continued to see some of their young offensive stars breakout—including running back Javonte Williams. 

One of the big missing pieces was at quarterback; while Teddy Bridgewater did a fine job, he doesn’t quite have the star power to carry this team to a big playoff run. Things didn’t help when Bridgewater went down with an injury and the team had to turn to Drew Lock.  Denver ended up dropping their last four games to miss the playoffs, but they still appear to be on the rise. 

If they can address the quarterback position, that should instantly help. They took the first steps in doing that by hiring Nathaniel Hackett to become their next head coach. Hackett was the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers the last two seasons, in which the Packers’ offense was explosive and quarterback Aaron Rodgers won consecutive MVPs. There are even murmurs about Rodgers possibly making his way to the “Mile High City.” 

But, before we get ahead of ourselves, the Broncos will look ahead to next season under Hackett, as the likes of Williams and the receiving core of Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy (who missed seven games this year) should continue to evolve. This defense already looked playoff-ready and should continue to become stronger. So even in a division with as much talent as the AFC West, you can never count the Broncos out.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs continued their dominance in the AFC West; despite some sluggish games toward the beginning of the season, the team would win eight straight from the beginning of November to the end of December, leading them to another division crown. Patrick Mahomes continued to impress at quarterback, throwing nearly 5,000 yards and 37 touchdowns. 

Meanwhile, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce also put up big numbers to continue dominating at their respective positions. This Chiefs offense finished in the top five in yards and points per game, but their defense also continued to give up a good amount of points; more specifically struggling in the passing game. 

In their first-round playoff matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chiefs showed Ben Roethlisberger no mercy in his final game, as they took care of business with a 42-21 win. Then in the Divisional Round, the Chiefs won an absolute thriller against a Buffalo Bills team that was looking for payback after the Chiefs beat them in last season’s playoffs. 

The Chiefs scored ten points in just over a minute, including a 13-second drive that ended in a 49-yard field goal by Harrison Butker to send the game to overtime. The Chiefs didn’t mess around in OT, taking just over four minutes to march 75 yards for a touchdown to win 42-36 and advance to a fourth consecutive AFC Championship. 

In the first half of the AFC Championship, the Chiefs looked poised to return to their third consecutive Super Bowl, as they led the Cincinnati Bengals, 21-10. But this one was a tale of two halves, as the Chiefs looked flat in the third and fourth quarters, getting outscored by the Bengals 3-14, taking this game to overtime at 24 points apiece. 

In overtime, the Chiefs continued to struggle and the Bengals took advantage, knocking them out with a field goal to deny the Chiefs another Super Bowl appearance. As the AFC continues to become more competitive nothing is written in stone for the Chiefs, but you can be sure that as long as Mahomes is at the helm of this offense, they’ll be feared across the league.

Las Vegas Raiders

Despite early-season controversies that included the firing of head coach Jon Gruden and the dismissal of young star Henry Ruggs, the Las Vegas Raiders didn’t feed into distractions. The Raiders won their final four games to finish 10-7 and nab a playoff spot for the first time in five years and only the second time in 19 years. 

The Raiders quarterback Derek Carr quietly put together a fantastic season where he threw for over 4,800 yards and found a new top target in receiver Hunter Renfrow. Meanwhile, the defense had a pair of tackle machines in linebacker Denzel Perryman and safety Jonathan Abram; Maxx Crosby also continued to hold down the D-line with 8 sacks. 

The Raiders overcame adversity to get into the playoffs; they were so close to beating the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card Round, as they lost 19-26 after Carr threw an interception in the final seconds. 

Still, this Raiders team exceeded a lot of expectations, and with offensive guru Josh McDaniels taking over as head coach next season, this offense will only continue to get stronger. Even though the ever-dominant Chiefs still sit in front of them, and they have the up-and-coming Chargers and Broncos breathing down their neck, the Raiders should continue to be a contender in the AFC. 

Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers‘ 2021 season had to sting a little bit: they dropped three of their last four, including a 32-35 overtime loss in the last game of the regular season to the Las Vegas Raiders—who prevented them from making the playoffs. 

The Chargers will continue to be patient for their opportunity, as they have one of the league’s best young quarterbacks in Justin Herbert, who leads a dynamic offense that features the likes of running back Austin Eckler, wide receivers Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and more. 

Their defense is dripping with talent as well, as they sent Joey Bosa and Derwin James to the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, despite head coach Brandon Staley’s past as a successful defensive coordinator, the Chargers’ defense as a unit was a weakness. Particularly their rush defense, which gave up the third-most yards per game on the ground this season.

Luckily, their top-five offense kept them in games this year—all the way up until the literal final minutes of the regular season. With the offense looking championship ready, expect Staley to focus on defense this offseason and bring in more guys that fit his system. The Chargers might have fallen short this season, but it feels like the calm before the storm for this franchise.

Even though the season has finished, we’ve got you covered with all the latest information on the NFL! We keep you as up to date as possible, so you don’t miss any of the action this off-season.

Michael is an avid follower of America's "Big Four" major sports, and a massive fan of European soccer. He may be a die-hard Seattle sports fan, but he's also one of their biggest critics—so there never has to be any fear over "biased picks." Michael makes sure to watch all games with a meticulous eye, so he can offer the highest quality picks and analysis for all readers.