Pat’s Chats: The Wild Wild AFC West

Bless your heart for checking out this blog with the title referencing a Will Smith jam.

The title is only fitting, though. On Sunday night football, the Oakland Raiders handled the Denver Broncos 30-20. With the nation’s spotlight shining on them, the Raiders proved that they are, indeed, the real deal.

For all of my life, the black and silver was a laughing stock. Oakland and mediocrity belonged hand in hand, but here are the Raiders with a 7-2 mark, the best in the AFC West. Quarterback Derek Carr is emerging as a shining star (a possible MVP candidate, might I add), the offense is putting up 27 points a game and the defense is improving each game.

That’s a scary thought in the best division in football. No, really.

Despite the loss, Denver sits at 6-3 while San Diego is barely below .500 at 4-5. Those records don’t seem pretty, but take a peak at the rest of the league. The AFC North is led by two 4-4 squads. The South has Houston at 5-3, but everyone else is below .500. Even the mighty East features the 7-1 Patriots followed by two 4-4 squads. NFC isn’t much better, but the closest to the AFC West might be the East, with 7-1 Dallas leading the charge.

Before the season began, do you remember when pundits were picking the Kansas City Chiefs to take the divisional crown? I do, and even though the West is crazy impressive this year, I still think the title is Kansas City’s to lose.

The Chiefs are already 2-0 with victories at Oakland and a squeaker at home against San Diego. KC boasts one of the best defenses in the AFC, allowing the second fewest points this season. That’s despite injuries to the secondary and the absence of Justin Houston. Might I add, Dee Ford paces the squad with nine sacks of the season. Questions surround the offense, but things should get better with Alex Smith and Spencer Ware returning.

The true measuring stick comes in a few weeks on November 27 with the Chiefs travel to Denver. But to close out the regular season, the Chiefs get the Raiders, who they whipped 26-10 in the “Black Hole”, and the Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are feeling the home field advantage with a 4-0 mark.

Saddle up, partners. It’s about to be a bumpy, but exciting ride in this division.