Broncos secure their place at bottom of AFC West following loss to the Raiders

Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus (8) watches as he misses a field goal against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half at Allegiant Stadium.
Dec 26, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus (8) watches as he misses a field goal against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos dueled to determine which team was the worst in the division, and the Broncos lost, securing their place in the division’s cellar.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs were locking up the division and the Chargers were authoring one of the season’s most embarrassing losses from every team.

How does the division stack up after this wild week of action? Let’s take a peek, in this edition of the AFC West Power Rankings.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs were already head and shoulders above the rest of the division, but following this week’s results, it’s safe to say that they’ve even further separated themselves from the pack.

As they obliterated the Steelers, it appeared as if the offense had finally awoken from its long slumber and the defense continues to wreak havoc against its opponents.

In five of their last six outings, they have held their opponents under 15 points, and in four of their last six outings, they’ve generated 34 points or more.

This is the juggernaut we expected to see at the season’s onset.

Now, they’ve clinched up the division and they seem to be peaking at the right time.

2. Los Angeles Chargers

No team in the AFC West saw their image take a bigger hit this week than the Chargers, who are still reeling from a stunning — and not that close — loss to the Houston Texans.

Davis Mills turned in one of the best performances of his young career, and what has been a dreadful Texans offense had quite a bit of success against the Chargers’ struggling defense.

Meanwhile, Justin Herbert was reigned in and threw a pair of interceptions, sinking the Bolts’ hopes.

Some of the disappointing performance could be attributed to the amount of talent the Chargers were without as the result of a COVID outbreak, but those problems appear to be carrying over into this week’s pivotal battle with the Broncos.

3. Las Vegas Raiders

Don’t let their narrow win over the Broncos fool you. This Raiders team is likely still awful.

The two biggest factors in their recent win against their hated rival was their ability to dominate the trenches. They entirely shut down the Broncos’ ability to run the ball, despite Denver concocting one of the league’s most dangerous rushing attacks over the past couple of months; and they had their most effective rushing day of the season, gaining 160 yards on the ground.

It’s hard to bank on those successes going forward because, throughout the season, Vegas has had one of the worst rushing defenses and offenses in football.

If they’re able to bully their next two opponents the same way they bullied the Broncos, maybe they can climb higher in the division ranks.

4. Denver Broncos

There’s little doubt that the Broncos are presently the worst team in the AFC West, after losing three straight games, two of which came at the hands of divisional rivals.

This isn’t the standard year, where finishing last place in the division means you’re an absolutely moribund franchise, so this placement shouldn’t be viewed as too strong a critique, though it certainly is negative.

During this losing streak, the defense has continued to limit the opposition’s ability to score, but the offense has barely produced anything of note.

Drew Lock turned in a fine performance, and yet still, the Broncos’ offense could only muster one scoring drive in which they didn’t start with the ball already in scoring position. Better performance in the trenches will go a long way towards improving that, and towards snapping the Broncos’ losing streak

SHARE