As week 3 of the NFL preseason comes to an end, this was likely the last time that many people will see starters from most teams play before opening weekend in two weeks. The last few weeks have been used as a dress rehearsal for all of the teams in the division, although it’s always hard to determine how the preseason will factor in when the regular season comes into play. This content will take a look at the AFC West and see how the teams have faired over the last few weeks. Although it’s only the preseason, the division has already begun to look like most annalists assume the entire season will play out; that is with the Bronco’s leading a relatively weak conference that will be battling with one another throughout the year at the potential of a Wildcard spot.
The Denver Broncos now sit at 2-1 after 3 weeks of preseason football. Their two wins come against St. Louis and San Francisco, which were both close games that the Bronco’s barely walked away with wins. As a matter of fact, with a late fumble against St. Louis, had the Ram’s actually scored with the ball inside the 5-yard-line, then the Broncos would be among the rest of the division with a 1-2 record. Aside from these nail-biting wins, the Broncos were walloped by Seattle in a 40-10 route. Granted, it’s preseason, but that’s either a bad sign for Denver or a great sign for a team with lofty expectations like the Seahawks. The biggest distraction for the Broncos this preseason has been the 6-game suspension of Von Miller for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. As it currently stands, Miller won’t be looking at any type of decreased penalty and Bronco’s fans can expect him to be out the entire time. This could put a big damper on the first part of the season for a team that many expect to make a run at the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning running the offense. The question is, who will step up and lead the defense?
The Chiefs began their preseason with new coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith. Unfortunately, the change of personnel hasn’t resulted in success so far during the preseason. The Chiefs lost their first two games, to the Saints and the 49ers, and only tallied 13-points in each game. Luckily, Smith looked good at the end of the first half in game three against the Steelers, in which he lead two scoring drives, one of which was a 72-yard drive before the end of the half. The end result was a 26-20 overtime victory for the Chiefs, and a bit of encouragement for the new staff in KC. The Chiefs are likely to be figuring themselves out for a few more weeks to come, but they wont have much time if they plan to keep up with the rest of the AFC West.
The Raiders also have started their preseason 2-1, which is probably quite a disappointment considering their win came in week one against the Cowboys. Since the two point victory against the ‘Boys, the Raiders have lost to the Saints and the Bears, both by a touchdown or more margins. The one shinning light of Raiders preseason has been the emergence of Terrelle Pryor. While Alex Flynn came to Oakland hoping to finally getting starters minutes, he has yet to perform as some had hoped. This has given Pryor a chance to step in, which he has taken advantage of. While neither quarterback looks ready to lead their team throughout the season, the Raiders will need to quickly make a decision who will be taking majority of the snaps when the season starts. They have one more preseason game against the Seahawks. And although most teams rest their starters during week-4 of the preseason, the Raiders may use this chance for one final test for Flynn and Pryor to see who is ready to run the Raider offense.
Is it even important to talk about the Chargers after three weeks of preseason? After all, it seems as if there is one thing you can count on in the NFL over the last few years, aside from Commissioner Goodell continually making ridiculous new rules, is the Chargers playing just average football all year, before squeaking into the playoffs at the end of the season. Well now that the Chargers have a new coaching staff, people will be watching if this remains the status quo for how the season plays out. Phillip Rivers has looked average during the preseason thus far, but Ryan Mathews has carried a brunt of the weight, as he looks primed to have a great season.
The AFC West could be one of the most back-and-forth divisions all year long. Before the suspension of Von Miller, many assumed that the three other teams would be playing catch-up to the Broncos. However now people are wondering if Peyton Manning has enough to keep Denver afloat during the first 6-weeks, until Miller makes his return. Assuming the Bronco’s stay healthy, this should still be their division, especially with all of the changes going on with the other three teams. With a 2-1 Broncos and every other team being 1-2, this could be how the entire season shapes up in the AFC West.
Here are the Updated Lines to win the Division provided by Bovada