Going into the season, the AFC West was collectively considered the most dangerous division in football. The Kansas City Chiefs will always make the West tough as long as Patrick Mahomes is under center, but there was legitimate reason to believe the other three teams would make for hellish Sundays all season. The Los Angeles Chargers were expected to take a step forward with Justin Herbert. The Las Vegas Raiders hired Josh McDaniels to create a deadly offense with premier weapons at his disposal. And the Denver Broncos traded for Russell Wilson, a top-10 quarterback. Many a sports talk segment was dedicated to wondering if it was the strongest collective division we've ever seen.
Now that we're 10 weeks into the season, it's safe to say we were all wrong. The Chiefs are the Chiefs, of course. But the Chargers have taken a step back. The Raiders are an utter catastrophe, and the Broncos are somehow even worse. There were predictions that the West would produce four playoff teams. Now it's looking like it will be hard-pressed to produce even two.
Mike Greenberg labeled the division the most disappointing in NFL history.
At first glance this comes across as the sort of hyperbole handcrafted for the content with a certain lack of logic behind it. But when you really think about it... can you name another?
It's difficult to do so because preseason hype is easily forgotten. There have probably been dozens of divisions over the years that everybody thought was going to be a powerhouse and flopped. Good teams are remembered but bad teams are quickly lost to the annals of history.
Speaking broadly, though, the AFC West was expected to be so good because there wasn't an obvious bottom-feeder. Which is nearly always the case when projecting how things will play out in the NFL. For all the parity that exists there are still a half-dozen teams a year that everyone knows is going to stink and it doesn't take a football analyst to point them out.
Maybe that's what's most surprising about the division. While others in the past have surely disappointed, the AFC West has two legitimately bad teams after being expected to produce four good ones. Like, top-10 pick in the draft bad. If the Broncos or Raiders were simply mediocre then it would be easy to dismiss Greenberg's take. But they are much worse than mediocre and that is what gives this segment weight.