4. AFC West
This division is intriguing, to say the least, as last season all four teams were projected to have the ability to make a deep run.
While the Chargers faced an injury-plagued season, the Raiders were just plain bad, and a large part of that was due to their defense. Las Vegas sports Maxx “Mad Max” Crosby and Chandler Jones on the edges, but the rest of their defense is semi-adequate starting caliber.
Free agent strong safety Marcus Epps was a rotating piece on the Eagles Super Bowl team in 2022, but who is to say how good he will be isolated in this secondary? Rookie Tyree Wilson hopefully should provide the defensive line with some juice, but it’s best not to bet on every rookie changing your franchise.
The Los Angeles Chargers have one of the best defenses on paper, but that is different than having the best defense performing. They have acquired superstars via free agency and the draft such as Joey Bosa, Eric Kendricks, Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson, Derwin James Jr, and Asante Samuel Jr. When healthy, this unit has the ability to be sky-high. If this core group of players isn't hit with the injury bug again, the Chargers could make a very deep run.
The Broncos were supposedly just a quarterback away with their secondary being led by Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons. Issues appeared in 2022, but this group of players still appears to have the potential to continue developing as a young force in the league.
What’s funny about the Chiefs is that they had an average defense and substandard wide receivers, but Patrick Mahomes still found a way to cook. Long-time franchise player, Frank Clark, is out, but Chris Jones still commands the line of scrimmage.
High draft capital players from recent years, namely George Karlaftis and Trent McDuffie are poised for bigger roles in 2023. The Chiefs have gotten younger and cheaper to make room for Mahomes’ contract, and so far, they have remained solid on D.