The AFC West finished second in overall strength in our final Divisional BES Rankings of 2016. The Chargers (5-11) were the only team to finish below .500. Meanwhile, the Chiefs (12-4), Raiders (12-4) and Broncos (9-7) remained in contention for the division title for the better part of the season before the Chiefs ultimately claimed the AFC West crown.
We decided to examine some offseason moves that could impact this season’s race for the AFC West title. But first, here’s a recap of how the teams finished in our final Week 17 report of 2016:
HOW THEY FINISHED
Requisite Reads for Newcomers:
Based on our data, a common area of concern for all four teams was Ball Control. Not surprisingly, their offseason strategies prioritized the trenches as well as the halfback position.
The Chargers brought in former Bills runningbacks coach and interim head coach Anthony Lynn. Lynn should bolster the Chargers ground attack and take pressure off veteran quarterback Phillip Rivers which would improve the offense overall.
The Broncos hired former Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph . The Broncos, over the last several seasons, have established one of the league’s premiere defensive units. Joseph is tasked with sustaining that while infusing the Broncos offense with some life.
NOTABLE PLAYER TRANSACTIONS
We’ve maintained that our data can provide a framework of how teams might approach the draft and address needs. Here are the rookies we feel will have the most impact on each team’s weakest area(s) in BES performance:
AFC WEST BALANCE OF POWER
On paper, the Chiefs and Raiders remain the teams to beat in the AFC West. Built by a couple of Ron Wolf disciples in general managers John Dorsey (Chiefs) and Reggie McKenzie (Raiders), both teams possess impressively deep and balanced rosters. They’re also led by veteran, battle-tested head coaches in Andy Reid (Chiefs) and Jack Del Rio (Raiders).
The Chargers have the talent to compete but their problem has been health, having suffered critical injuries to key starters in each of the last two seasons. The Broncos had a productive offseason but failed to address their most urgent need…quarterback. Finally, the fact that both the Chargers and Broncos are led by rookie head coaches only compounds the difficulty of toppling the Raiders and Chiefs for division dominance.