Skip to main content
Publish date:

Despite Inconsistency, AFC West Is Within Striking Distance for Chiefs

Things haven't gone as planned for the Chiefs and despite that, they still have a good shot at taking the AFC West crown.

A few weeks ago, it seemed as if the sky was falling in regards to the Kansas City Chiefs' 2021 season. The team was struggling immensely, it was either at or below .500 and other AFC West teams had solid leads in the divisional standings. After Week 9, the landscape is on the verge of shifting.

The Chiefs, coming off back-to-back wins, have yet to impress and earn the right to be considered contenders again. With that said, they are back above .500 after a win over the Green Bay Packers and at 5-4 on the year, they've placed themselves firmly in the AFC's playoff picture through nine games. Their current win streak, two games, is their longest of the year.

Things haven't gone swimmingly for the Chiefs this season. In fact, it's been quite the bumpy ride for the reigning conference champions. A combination of poor defense, subpar quarterback play, lackluster focus and a surplus of turnovers has doomed the team in different ways all year long. This doesn't yet resemble the 2019 nor 2020 units that won the AFC West and ended up representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. Mark Van Sickle of Arrowhead Report joined me on today's Roughing the Kicker podcast to talk about how although the Chiefs have a long way to go still, things are shaping up favorably with all things considered. 

Read More

At the top of the AFC West are the 5-3 Los Angeles Chargers and 5-3 Las Vegas Raiders. The Chargers, a team that narrowly defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 9, are 1-2 in their last three games. They currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Raiders, a squad that is 2-3 in its last five games after starting the season 3-0. Neither team looks as dominant as it did earlier in the year, which bodes well for the Chiefs. Kansas City plays Las Vegas this week on Sunday Night Football.

In third and fourth place are the Chiefs and the Denver Broncos, also 5-4 this year. The main knock on Denver this season has been its schedule, as a lack of quality wins left the jury to remain out in regards to just how good the team truly is. After a dominant road win over the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys, it may be time to consider the Broncos at least a competitive team capable of fighting for a wild card spot. 

The Chiefs have played just one intra-division game in 2021, losing to the Chargers in Week 3. With another game against Los Angeles still on the docket, as well as both Raiders and Broncos games remaining, there's a lot of control in that equation. Andy Reid's team has been anything but consistent this year but if it can hit any sort of stride over the next few weeks, winning the AFC West isn't out of the question.

A month ago, the divisional hierarchy didn't feature the Chiefs at or near the top. It still doesn't, but they're within legitimate striking distance now. With eight games still to go in what's a grueling NFL campaign, there's plenty left to be determined. This importance of week's game in Vegas cannot be understated, though. If the Chiefs can secure a third-straight win — and do so by winning on the road against a bitter division rival — they'll have some serious momentum on their side. In an AFC West that is seemingly wide open right now, that's a pretty big deal. 

Read More: Four Takeaways From the Chiefs' 13-7 Win Over the Packers