What every AFC West team needs do before Week 1

Sports

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 27: Drew Lock #3 of the Denver Broncos scores a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

It’s the home of the reigning AFC champions. And the Kansas City Chiefs look to continue their dominance of their divisional rivals in recent years.

Andy Reid was hired by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013 and has produced eight consecutive winning season, with seven resulting in playoff appearances. The teams has appeared in the last two Super Bowls but their 31-20 win over the 49ers in LIV was followed by a humbling 31-9 loss at Tampa to the Buccaneers (LV).

The last team to win the AFC West other than the Chiefs were the eventual Super Bowl 50 champion Broncos. Reid’s squad has reached the playoffs an NFL-best six straight years since ’15. The Broncos (2015), Raiders (2016) and Chargers (2018) have each reached the postseason once over that span.

All four clubs have work to do before the season kicks off. So what does each team need to be ready for that opening Sunday or Monday?

Denver Broncos: Eliminate mistakes from the start

From 1960-2018, the Denver Broncos owned a 39-19-1 record in their first game of the season, a blistering .672 winning percentage. And from 2013-18, the franchise got off to at least a 2-0 start each of those six years.

But is has been a far different story under head coach Vic Fangio. The team dropped its first three games in 2019 and this past season, they got off to a disappointing 0-4 start on the way to a 5-11 finish.

This past season, the club went through its share of starting quarterbacks and that instability combined with poor play saw Fangio’ squad lead the NFL with 32 turnovers. Quarterback Drew Lock had 18 of those miscues and his inconsistency was one reason the team dealt for veteran Teddy Bridgewater – late of the Carolina Panthers. But he comes off a year with that club in which he had nearly as many turnovers (14) as touchdown passes (15).

The Broncos kick off 2021 on the east coast against a New York Giants’ defense that was one of the better units in the league this past season. That team’s pass rush produced 40 sacks. But even if Fangio’s team can’t keep their offense out of harm’s way, securing the football should be a season-long priority.

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