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Why the Denver Broncos will win the AFC West

Aug 24, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum (4) attempts a pass against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos will win the AFC West crown in 2018.

Yes, you read that right.

From worst-to-first, Broncos Blitz podcast host Ronnie Kohrt discusses in the latest edition of the podcast how Denver will vault to the top of the division in 2018.

In a quirky offseason, nearly the entire AFC West was on the decline while Denver across the board improved, including at their biggest weakness position in quarterback.

Oakland Raiders

Oakland waived the rebuild flag the moment they traded away their best player in Khalil Mack. Arguably one of the best pass rushers in the league. New head coach Jon Gruden has early question marks that only grow with clear communication issues with his players.

Gruden comes into the job as a .541 career win percentage head coach. To expect him to notch 10 wins right off the bat — which appears the bare minimum to win the division — is quite the stretch for a coach who has been out of the league for 10-years and even in his prime of coaching, only achieved this mark once in his final six years of his coaching in the mid-2000’s.

Kansas City Chiefs

The team’s secondary was picked apart as their best player heads to LA, and that may not be the most impactful loss.

While the Chiefs seem to be in good hands in the long term with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, to expect quality quarterback play with little-to-no turnovers right out of the box is asking a whole lot from Mahomes, who could be argued comes into the season a rookie.

Los Angeles Chargers

Every year they’re picked to be the prime team in the AFC West and every year, they underperform. As Bill Parcells once famously said, ‘you are what your record says you are,’ and the record has said the Chargers have been average at best over the last five years.

Losing tight end Hunter Henry and Jason Varrett early in the year to injury is a brutal start to the year and Joey Bosa missing Week 1 adds more scare to a team that may need 11 wins to win the division, as tiebreakers could play a factor in the West this year. The Chargers have struggled in the division over the last couple years and home-field advantage during the year isn’t exactly a strong-suite to the Chargers until their new home is open.

Case Keenum is indeed the X-factor and if he falls flat, Denver will be back to the cellar. But if Denver sees any sort of competency at the quarterback position, it’ll be a massive upgrade from last year. Denver’s disastrous quarterback situation in 2017 bled into poor offensive line play, poor production from the wide receiver and led to a one-dimensional offense that was easily beaten. All areas would see major improvements in 2018 just by default if the quarterback is better.

Denver’s defense also has an absurd amount of depth when it comes to one of the most important things you can do on defense, rush the passer. If Denver’s rookie class comes out as good as many locally and nationally believe they can be led by No. 5 overall pick linebacker Bradley Chubb. Denver’s resurgence and turnaround from worst-to-first would come at no surprise.

‘Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve’ when it comes to 4-5 games last year for the Broncos, but you could argue Denver collects wins over Buffalo, Cincinnati, New York, at Oakland and at Miami last year just to name a few if Denver had a quarterback that was just on par.

Not elite play. Just competent and efficient quarterback play.

Competency at quarterback means every player on the offense gets better and because it was so disastrously bad last year, the team followed the same path. If last year was a two or three on a scale of 1-to-10, Keenum is a strong six or seven. That upgrade alone is worth a potential 3-4 wins.

Click here to listen to the full Broncos Blitz podcast with Ronnie Kohrt.

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