AFC West Defensive Power Rankings for the 2017 NFL Season
There’s quite a spread if we look at the AFC West defensive power rankings for the teams in the division. With the Broncos and the Chiefs ranked at the top of the division and within the top 10 of the NFL by most experts, both the Raiders and the Chargers may be on the back foot in terms of the division title.If you’ve been waiting for the draft and free agent signings to see how the defenses of the AFC West stack up, then now’s the time to take a closer look.
Los Angeles Chargers 4th in the AFC West Defensive Power Ranking
Gus Bradley will be coordinating the defense this year, and the team will be using a 4 – 3 arrangement. Bradley comes from a head coaching position, but his talents might be better focused on a single aspect of the game. The Chargers don’t have the very worst offense in the NFL, and they are a team that can force turnovers with the best of them, but it seems to be everywhere else that they’re lacking. The 4 – 3 change from last year’s 3 – 4 defense could work better for the talent that they have in the front seven.Last year’s 5 – 11 record wasn’t totally down to poor decisions, and was in large part due to a number of injuries. A new coaching structure could be positive for the team, but it’s not likely that we’re going to see results right away. Combine all of this with the fact that there have been no major acquisitions, and it’s easy to see the Chargers being at the bottom of the AFC West again.
Oakland Raiders 3rd in the AFC West Defensive Power Ranking
Most expert analysts agree the Raiders sit right in the middle of the NFL in terms of their defensive roster. Ken Norton Jr. is their defensive coordinator, and they’ll be using a 4 – 3 base defense this year.The Raiders are not short on talent, but it did seem that last season they were not able to translate that talent into meaningful action on the field. Take Khalil Mack as an example. He was named defensive player of the week in Week 12 of the 2016 season, and players ranked him the 13th best NFL player in the top 100 ranking. He brings a huge boost to the team and his personal sack record is enviable. Yet, in the previous season, the Raiders were right at the bottom of the table with just 25 sacks for the year.They were also near to the bottom of the table in yards allowed for the season. The strongest part of their defensive game was turnovers, totaling 30 for the season. This kind of inconsistency doesn’t help them in their power ranking, despite the talent that they have. Their defensive side is young and relatively inexperienced, which could be part of the problem, and it will take time for Ken Norton Jr. to get down to the root of their defensive problems. Some promising draft picks in the form of Obi Melifonwu and Gareon Conley will be beneficial, but they’re still quite far behind the best two defensive teams in this division.
Kansas City Chiefs 2nd in the AFC West Defensive Power Ranking
Bob Sutton, defensive coordinator, will run the defense with a 3 – 4 arrangement in 2017.There’s an excellent defensive squad in the Chiefs, although recent results haven’t shown it, with injuries hurting the team. Notably, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston were out of action for too much of 2016, which ended up making their defense look less potent than it actually is. The bright side is that even with injuries impacting the team, the defense still managed excellent season records in turnovers and points allowed.On paper, the strength of the defense this year will be reliant on some simple factors. If Houston and Johnson can perform and avoid injury, then this is easily one of the best defenses in the league. The signs are promising, with Houston showing true form with an excellent performance in Week 12 of last season. 10 tackles and 3 sacks showed what could have been if he wasn’t out for the earlier games. With similar performances this year the Kansas defense will be one to be feared.
Denver Broncos 1st in the AFC West Defensive Power Ranking
The Broncos don’t have any holes in their roster, and it would be hard to choose between them and any of the top 5 defensive teams in the NFL.Shane Ray is going to be important for the team, replacing DeMarcus Ware after the veteran chose to retire in the off season. Ray, once a promising rookie, now has some experience underneath him, and he can work well with players like Chris Harris, Brandon Marshall, and Von Miller. The whole defensive line looks solid, and this is also a team that is not afraid of physicality.An important rookie to join the team is DeMarcus Walker. While he won’t start off in heavy rotation, he could prove to be essential as the season progresses. Having him available will at least mean that there’s depth in the team, and he has shown in his college career that he’s potentially one of the best defensive ends in the sport. He recorded 16 sacks for Florida State in 2016, indicating his potential.The Broncos have a defense that is more consistent and overall more talented than the rest of the AFC West. The easily top the power ranking for this division, and they have the talent to be amongst the best in the NFL by the end of the 2017 season.
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