After a couple of down season, the Los Angeles Chargers could become a problem in the AFC West. They’ve got an impressive young quarterback in Justin Herbert and they recently hired Brandon Staley as their head coach, who turned the Los Angeles Rams into the top defense in the NFL in 2020. Interestingly enough, the new Chargers skipper has a connection to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Despite being known as a top defensive coach, Staley used to start at quarterback for Dayton University from 2003 to 2004. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden also played quarterback at the same school back in the 80s. Staley had a chance to talk about the connection and took a bit of a shot at Gruden in the process.
“With Jon Gruden, we were both quarterbacks at Dayton. … I’ll tell you that I was a little better quarterback than he was,” Staley said, via the OC Register.
Gruden was never a starter at Dayton while Staley was so he does have that over the Raiders coach. However, the former has a Super Bowl ring.
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AFC West Poised to Be Very Competitive
As of right now, the Kansas City Chiefs are the kings of the AFC West. They’ve won the division five years in a row and they’re not going to be bad anytime soon. Before the Chiefs’ reign, the Denver Broncos ruled the division. They won the division every year between 2011 and 2015. The Chargers haven’t won the division since 2009 while the Raiders haven’t won since 2002.
2020 was a down year for the division. The Chiefs were the only team to finish with a winning record at 14-2 while the Raiders were second with an 8-8 record. Chargers came in third at 7-9 and Denver was last at 5-11. Despite the down year, the AFC West is poised to be very tough in 2021.
The Raiders are improving under Gruden and should’ve won more than eight games this season. If they can fix their defense, they are a playoff team. The offense is already really strong and they were the only team to beat the Chiefs in 2020 when Patrick Mahomes started.
The Chargers are also set to be really good. They’ve got one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL and a smart young coach. Los Angeles also has an extremely talented roster when healthy.
Denver is still the weakest team in the division but if they can find a good quarterback this offseason, they could become a playoff-caliber team. If the Broncos can somehow swing a trade for Deshaun Watson, the AFC West becomes the most difficult division in the NFL.
Can the Raiders Overtake the Chiefs?
Out of all the teams in the AFC West, the Raiders seem the most likely to compete with Kansas City. They haven’t been shy about the fact that they are building their team with the intention of beating the Chiefs. Las Vegas was able to beat the reigning Super Bowl champions once and almost did it a second time.
The gap between the two teams might not be a wide as people think. If new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley can build a competitive defense, the Raiders have a winning team. They beat the Chiefs with a terrible defense. It’s easy to see them do it again with an average defense.