2021 NFL Preview - AFC West: The Chiefs got better and will still rule this division and the conference

It's Kansas City, Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes or bust once gain

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled 2021 NFL Preview - AFC West: The Chiefs got better and will still rule this division and the conference
Illustration: Getty Images

Like it or not, this is still Kansas City’s division to lose. It’s not very often we can look at a team that went to the Super Bowl two years in a row and go “Wow! They really improved this offseason.” Yet, that’s exactly what the Chiefs did. The biggest problem for the Chiefs in the Super Bowl was their poor offensive line play.

Sure, the absences of Eric Fisher at left tackle and Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle were a large reason why Patrick Mahomes had to run for his life so often, so technically, the Chiefs would have been alright had they just retained those two. However, Brett Veach went above and beyond with the additions of Orlando Brown, Austin Blythe, Joe Thuney, and Creed Humphrey. That’s a totally retooled offensive line that got better at every position aside from right tackle.

2021 NFL Preview

If we’re being real, who can actually stand up to Kansas City? Buffalo didn’t improve enough. The Ravens lost their starting right tackle to Kansas City and replaced him with an aging Alejandro Villanueva. Cleveland is very solid all-around, but is Baker Mayfield really capable of leading a team past the Chiefs? And let’s be real, no one from the AFC South has a shot, even with Tennessee’s addition of Julio Jones.


The only team in the AFC West with a real shot is the Los Angeles Chargers, and I’ll be honest, they seem really legit. Their biggest problem in 2020 was the offensive line, so they went out and drafted Rashawn Slater and signed All-Pro center Corey Linsley to a 5-year deal. If Herbert can stay healthy, they will be very strong. They also return star safety Derwin James, who missed all of 2020 recovering from surgery. They have the potential to do some damage, but if we’re being real, the Chiefs outclass the Chargers at every position except edge rusher and running back. Kansas City has the better quarterback, offensive line, head coach, GM, secondary, receiving corps, the list goes on and on. While I imagine Herbert will make a tremendous jump in his second year, it would be nothing short of a miracle if Herbert plays up to Mahomes’ level.

The Denver Broncos could also be sneakily good in 2021, and may cause the Chargers and Chiefs some problems. They have a fantastic receiving corps, a great young halfback, and an outstanding defense, but if we’re relying on white bread Drew Lock or Teddy “barely averages one touchdown pass per game” Bridgewater, that is a sad state to be in. The Broncos will be good in a few years, but not in 2021. They have no shot to catch the Chiefs.


Kansas City is also the beneficiary of a fantastic schedule in 2021. Not only do the Chiefs get nine games at home, but three of their four biggest challenges (Green Bay, Cleveland, Buffalo) are all at home as well. The only super challenging game I see on Kansas City’s schedule not at Arrowhead Stadium is Week 2 at Baltimore. Aside from that, there’s the Chargers, who they get a home and home against, as well as the Tennessee Titans and Washington Football Team, neither of whom stand up to the strength of Kansas City’s roster.

Now, I’m not saying that Kansas City is destined to go undefeated. Obviously, they’ll drop a game or two. The Raiders always seem to find some way to snag one from the Chiefs. How? I have no idea. Not even the brightest minds on Earth can figure out that conundrum. However, the Chiefs are undoubtedly still the elite of the American Football Conference.

AFC East / AFC South / AFC North / NFC East / NFC North / NFC South / NFC West