The Kansas City Chiefs are celebrating once more, while the Oakland Raiders are preparing to host their final game before relocation.
The AFC West race is over. Once again, confetti falls in Kansas City.
Sunday, for the fourth straight year, Andy Reid’s team clinched the division title. It is a remarkable accomplishment in this ultra-competitive age in the NFL.
The Chiefs clinched the division with three weeks remaining after its impressive road win over the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders’ lopsided loss at home to the Tennessee Titans.
Also, in Week 14, the Denver Broncos continued to see impressive play from their young quarterback and the Chargers had their best day of the season. But it didn’t matter.
As we head to Week 15, here are the AFC West’s risers and fallers:
Chiefs’ momentum: When the season started, the Chiefs, who just missed going to the Super Bowl last season, appeared to be a top AFC contender. Their 4-0 start didn’t do anything to change that perception. However, some close losses, bad defense and a scary knee injury to MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes knocked the Chiefs off course a bit. But there is no denying Kansas City is a legitimate Super Bowl contender again.
The Chiefs have won three straight games. The defense has made huge strides and while Mahomes is still dealing with nagging injuries, the offense should be extremely dangerous in January.
Andy Reid: He gets a lot of grief, but Reid has done a fantastic job navigating through this season. He is still an innovator (see Travis Kelce’s read-option touchdown Sunday). The Chiefs are surging and have won another division crown, in large part, because Reid is their coach.
Denver’s long-term hopes: The Broncos are 2-0 since rookie Drew Lock has become the quarterback. He has a lot of ability and gumption. This team is 5-8, but has had a lot of close losses. With a growing young nucleus, Denver has some things to look forward to.
Paul Guenther: The Raiders are dreadful on defense. Tennessee ran up-and-down the field Sunday, scoring 42 points. Oakland coach called the Raiders’ defense “sickening” and said it won’t happen again. But it has been happening all season. Oakland is allowing an average of 28.1 points a game. They have allowed the most plays of 20 yards or more in the NFL and have allowed 11 touchdowns of 90-plus yards in Guenther’s 29 games as the defensive coordinator. Guenther is Gruden’s guy and will probably get another year, but he has work to do.
Days in Oakland: Sunday is a historic day in the AFC West. The Raiders’ game against the Jacksonville Jaguars will be their final game in Oakland. The team is moving to Las Vegas after the season. Since 2015, there were three finales that could have been it for the Oakland Raiders, but this is certainly the swan song. Gruden loves Oakland. Expect him to do everything he can to win and celebrate in the Black Hole.
Life as a Charger: How Chargers is this: They had their best game of the season in a 45-10 win at Jacksonville on Sunday. They looked great. But, of course, it didn’t matter. The Chargers, the biggest disappointment in the NFL this season, were officially eliminated Sunday. How perfectly Chargers is that?