Red’s 2021 NFL Predictions – AFC West

If you bet the over on the win total on the Chiefs (11.5) and Raiders (7.5) last season you won.  If you bet the under on the Broncos (7) and the Chargers (7.5) you won again!  This season the bookies have high expectations for this division with these win total O/U’s:  Chiefs (12.5), Chargers (9.5), Broncos (8.5) and Raiders (7).  Red doesn’t get the higher rating on the Broncos and the discount on the Raiders.  So in the only pre-season betting advice Red is likely to give take the Over for the Raiders and the Under for the Broncos.  Of course, factoring in a 17 game season on such matters is a bit difficult.  Full disclosure:  Red is an amateur prognosticator and does not bet on sporting events.

Kansas City Chiefs  (13-4).  Humiliating, emasculating, devastating, ass-whomping, embarrassing and debilitating all apply to describe the pathetic show the Chiefs put on in the Superb Owl.  Red really did not believe that Andy Reid was so unable to adapt to the Bucs defensive scheme of rushing 5-6 guys on every play and leaving the short middle of the field wide open.  Pat Mahomes was forced make a miracle throw for the Chiefs only touchdown that no other NFL QB can probably make. See above. If the Chiefs had put this kind of pressure on Brady, he would have been carried off the field in a basket. But don’t expect the Chiefs to do the Falcons Fold and stink in 2021.  Immediate attention was given to rebuilding a credible offensive line with the additions of former Patriots guard Joe Thuney, trading for Orlando Brown, Jr. and bringing Kyle Long out of retirement as a likely super-backup.  Mahomes is the scariest QB in the league when he is not running for his life.  And no one has more talent around him.  If the defense improves even marginally, the Chiefs will be in every game and wining most of them. 

Why the Chargers Left Los Angeles - Tales from the AFL

Los Angeles Chargers (10-7).  Some forget that the Chargers started life in the Los Angeles Coliseum, but decamped to San Diego after failing to draw anywhere close to a respectable home crowd. See above. The more things change . . . Last season wasn’t one to get the Chargers’ fans’ butts back in the seats of even a multi-billion dollar stadium. The Chargers had to really struggle to pull defeat from the jaws of victory multiple times last season. After a “rousing” road win against the Bengals, the Chargers went on to drop 9 of their next 11 games with two overtime losses to the playoff bound Chiefs and Saints and 5 other one score losses thrown in.  The nadir of the season was a 45-0 pasting by the Patriots in front of the “home crowd” in LA.  But after that, the Chargers closed with 4 wins (impressive even with discounting the final game win against the Chiefs second string).  NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert was the best looking rookie QB since Dak Prescott in 2016 – even if the results weren’t there.   The Chargers come out of the box hot this season with wins over the Football Team and the Cowboys.  Then comes a tough stretch with the Chiefs, Raiders Browns and Ravens.  Expect 2-2 from that run at best.  After that the rack up a 5-1 record against some of the weak sisters before coming back to earth against the surging Chiefs.  The Texans provide a palate cleanser and if they split with the Broncos and Raiders in Weeks 17 and 18 – they just might have a shot at a wild card spot. 

Las Vegas Raiders  (9-8).  The Raiders have not won a playoff game since the 2002 season when they beat the Titans in the AFC Championship game in what will be the last playoff game ever played at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum before losing to the Buccaneers in one of the weirdest Superb Owls ever.  See above. That almost two-decade drought probably doesn’t end this season. That’s not saying the Raiders did not do their best to plug some holes.  The defense should be better with DC Gus Bradley taking over and getting some help from free agent picks like Yannick Ngakoue, Quinton Jefferson and Casey Howard, Jr. On offense despite much moaning and groaning there is absolutely nothing wrong with having David Carr as your quarterback if you put enough talent around him. In that regard, top target and putative TE Darren Waller (Red has never seen a TE more averse to actually hitting someone than Waller) is back and the hope is that second-year WR Henry Ruggs, III steps up with his seeming big-play potential.  Running back by committee may be a problem as no true No. 1 back appears to be in the stable.  

Denver Broncos (6-11).  Some prognosticators are picking the Broncos to finish second and earn a Wild Card slot. Red disagrees. Red likes Teddy Bridgewater – always has.  He was a steal for a sixth round draft pick even if he doesn’t win the starting job. But how long can a guy bounce around, moving from system to system and keep fighting for a starting job?  Apparently a long time in this league.  Unfortunately, the Broncos will not be a very competitive squad this season.    

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