When the Kansas City Chiefs became the second AFC West team to succumb to the Patriots last weekend, the division was officially done for the season.
That can only one mean one thing, it’s time for my AFC West review. As with the AFC North, it will take on the form of a team of the season.
It was very much a tale of two halves for the division this season.
On one half, you have the Kansas City Chiefs and the LA Chargers. Finishing the regular season 12-4, the two teams held the best records in the AFC. The Chiefs had the beating of LA back in September, but the Chargers managed to sneak one over Kansas in December. For me, LA may have had one of the best all round teams in the NFL this season. The Chiefs were effortlessly brilliant and entertaining offensively all year. When the big game arrived however, they were found lacking defensively and came up one short of a place in the Super Bowl. Defensive co-ordinator Bob Sutton paid for it with his job.
On the other half of the division you have the Denver Broncos (6-10) and the Oakland Raiders (4-12).
A season that started with the free agency acquisition of Case Keenum and hope in Denver, ended with a hunt for a new head coach. Vance Joseph was shown the door and they welcome Vic Fangio to Mile High. The premier defensive mind in the league working with some of the best defensive players in the NFL will ensure that next season begins with hope too.
The Black Hole (of despair)…
Speaking of hope, was there ever a team more full of it when the Oakland Raiders welcomed Jon Gruden back in to the fold at the start of this season? That hope has somewhat turned to circus this year as reports of locker room rifts, players being traded here, there and everywhere and general dysfunction on the field have dominated the headlines this year. That’s before you even consider where they will be playing their home games in 2019! A new league year brings new hope however. The Raiders have an arsenal of picks in the upcoming draft and they have one of the premier draft analysts steering the ship in the form of new GM, Mike Mayock.
With such contrasts between the four teams in the division, any team of the season is going to feature some teams more than others. As such Raiders fans, don’t expect to see too many of the black and silver! As with my AFC North team, it has been picked solely on player performance THIS season.
So without any further rambling, here it is…
2018 AFC West Team Of The Season…
- QB Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)
- RB Melvin Gordon (LA Chargers)
- RB Phillip Lindsay (Denver Broncos)
- WR Tyreek Hill (Kansas City Chiefs)
- WR Keenan Allen (LA Chargers)
- LT Eric Fisher (Kansas City Chiefs)
- LG Kelechi Osemele (Oakland Raiders)
- C Mike Pouncey (LA Chargers)
- RG Connor McGovern (Denver Broncos)
- RT Mitchell Schwartz (Kansas City Chiefs)
- TE Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs)
Let the “you’re wrong and this is why” commence! I love what Phil Rivers has done this year, don’t get me wrong. However, I just think what Patrick Mahomes has done for the Chiefs is better. I don’t think there can be any argument that his teammates Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have been the best at their positions this year. Lining up alongside Hill at wide receiver is Keenan Allen and I admit this was a tough one. In a relatively lost season for the Denver Broncos, Emmanuel Sanders has been a consistent bright spark, and he pushed Allen very hard for a spot in this team. Another 1000+ yardage season for Allen was too hard for me to ignore.
The other bright spark for the Broncos has been running back Phillip Lindsay. The rookie out of Colorado has been a revelation this year on his way to 1037 yards and nine touchdowns.
The offensive line was a tough one for me to select. The quarterbacks in the AFC West have been hit a whole lot this season. Outside of the performance of the tackles, Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, the interior line play of all four teams has been sketchy at best. It hasn’t been helped by a large number of injuries and therefore a lot of rotation at the position. Connor McGovern of the Broncos has had a good season at right guard and makes the team for that reason. However, he was terrible when pushed inside to play center. Kelechi Osemele is the only Oakland Raider in my starting offence and it wasn’t his best season by any stretch. Mike Pouncey sneaks in at center for my team, having been run very close by the Chief’s Mitch Morse.
- LDE Chris Jones (Kansas City Chiefs)
- DT Maurice Hurst (Oakland Raiders)
- RDE Melvin Ingram (LA Chargers)
- LOLB Bradley Chubb (Denver Broncos)
- MLB Anthony Hitchens (Kansas City Chiefs)
- MLB Todd Davis (Denver Broncos)
- ROLB Von Miller (Denver Broncos)
- SS Derwin James (LA Chargers)
- FS Marcus Gilchrist (Oakland Raiders)
- CB Desmond King (LA Chargers)
- CB Chris Harris Jr (Denver Broncos)
If you are looking for a defence that attacks the quarterback, and I am, this is your team! Chris Jones (15.5), Bradley Chubb (12) and Von Miller (14.5) all had double digit sack seasons. I don’t think Jones gets the credit he deserves when we talk about defensive players in the league. When Joey Bosa finally puts together a healthy season of work, him and Ingram might make up the most fearsome defensive end duo in the league. For now, Ingram’s durability sees him lining up in my team.
Maurice Hurst might be a surprise name for some. I love what he has done this year and when you consider how very close he came to not getting in to the league, his performance is even more outstanding. In the middle of Denver’s pass rush duo, the linebackers Hitchens and Davis have combined for over 160 tackles this year and will form a solid unit.
James Leads Stellar Secondary…
I don’t think there are any more words left to describe Derwin James. The guy has had an outstanding rookie campaign and has been a major force in the Chargers defence. Joining him in the secondary is teammate Desmond King and Denver’s Chris Harris Jr. Between them they have six interceptions, two touchdowns and over twenty passes defenced from the cornerback position. Marcus Gilchrist completes the secondary at free safety. I honestly don’t believe there has been a stand out performance at the position in the division and Gilchrist gets in on sheer numbers alone.
Kickers are people too…
Rounding off my team of the season is the kickers. It is difficult to overlook Brandon McManus of Denver but it is rare air in which he goes to work at Mile High. For me, the kicking crisis at the Chargers seems to have been finally resolved so my team will lean on Mike Badgley for that last minute field goal. It should be Marquette King leading the punt team for this squad but the former Raider seems to be out of favour in the league now. Dustin Colquitt of the Chiefs takes his place.
With that, the 2018 AFC West season is the books. If you have any opinions you want to share on the team, or anything football related for that matter, you can find me on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.
Image Credit: flurrysports.org