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Heller: AFC West Answers to my Preseason Series “3 Burning Questions”

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With the regular season over, here are the answers to my three burning questions from before the season.

Oakland Raiders 

Is Antonio Brown worth the headache? The guy who I thought would be the difference-maker for this team was released by the Raiders prior to the season. The Patriots quickly signed him. He played in one game for them before he was released after allegations were made against him. 

Is Derek Carr really Gruden’s guy? I wasn’t so sure prior to the season. Fast forward to the season now being over, and I’m still not sure. Carr had about an even share of good games as bad ones. The jury is still out on this one. 

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Will Jacobs run wild? First-round pick Josh Jacobs showed quickly and often that he was more team deserving of it. Although injuries derailed the last handful of games, he still ended with a solid season numbers-wise. We’ll have to see if it’s enough to win the Rookie of the Year award.

Los Angeles Chargers 

Will Gordon’s holdout end? It did, although it didn’t conclude until a couple of games into the season. While the team was trying to work him back into the mix, it appeared that it threw the offensive chemistry out of sync. 

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Is it time for Rivers to set sail? Record-wise, the Chargers had a rough season. Rivers was Rivers. They were in practically every game until the end. As the season wore on, the speculation grew that this would be the last we see him in a Chargers uniform. Time will tell, if not with this team, would another team invest in an aging veteran?

Could this defense be unwavering? The front seven were good all season and at times great, but the secondary battled injuries all season long, which allowed opposing offenses to plan accordingly. 

Denver Broncos 

Is Flacco the answer? Early on, although it wasn’t translating into wins, this offense was looking better than it had. After Flacco went down with an injury, rookie Drew Lock made his season debut. And by the small sample we saw, John Elway and the Broncos may finally have their guy under center. 

Will the running game pick up where it left off? Phillip Lindsay had a solid second season. He was still the quick elusive back that was tricky to bring down a season ago. 

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How will the secondary hold up? Former Houston Texans safety Kareem Jackson was solid for this defense. The front seven only at times looked like they did in seasons past. It is unclear if it is because they seemed to be playing from behind more often than not, or if offensive coordinators figured out this defense.

Kansas City Chiefs 

What will Mahomes do for an encore? While it wasn’t the lights-out season like a year ago, Mahomes still made big plays when his team needed them the most. And, by the way, they still won their division. 

How will this defense look? The defensive unit was solid. Tyrann Mathieu may have been the biggest standout on this side of the ball. 

Super Bowl or bust? That remains to be seen for Andy Reid’s team. They checked off the first box by making the playoffs and the second box by getting a bye week to rest up. 

While I thought the Raiders and Broncos would be improved, only the former can say that. The division was the Chiefs’ to win. The Chargers had a season they would like to forget.

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