There is a constant debate about which division is the most competitive within the National Football League. Another division that has consistently been competitive has now taken a massive leap forward in the rankings.
The AFC West has been a competitive division for many years but it rose to prominence with the introduction of top-notch quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Long-time signal-caller Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders statistically has been a top 15 quarterback, however, statistics unfortunately do not always translate into wins.
The Denver Broncos, the fourth team in the division, have fallen behind lately due to the franchise’s inability to select and develop a competent quarterback. Times have changed.
With the Denver Broncos trading away two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, and a trio of players (Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris) in exchange for former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, they have launched themselves right into the mix of the division.
The Broncos have been described lately as a team that has all the pieces, or almost all of the pieces, required to win but are lacking a quarterback. The quarterbacks that have attempted to lead the franchise to a pattern of success recently have all failed to do so, horribly.
Russell Wilson on the other hand is a proven quarterback with a length history of success within the NFL. A nine-time Pro-Bowler with two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl victory over the — you guessed it — Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. This time Russell Wilson will be on the same side of the field as the team that he punished in a 43-8 rout.
Wilson is no stranger to playing in a competitive division as he spent ten years in the NFC West battling the LA/STL Rams, Arizona Cardinals, and San Francisco 49ers, especially considering that all three of those teams made the playoffs in 2021.
Thankfully for Wilson’s sake, he is not walking onto a team that requires a major rebuild and is near ready to win now.
The Broncos have been putting together the necessary pieces to compete in the AFC West but have continuously been bested by squads with far better quarterbacks at the helm. Now, the trio of excellent receivers in Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and Courtland Sutton linked with an explosive running back have an elite and proven quarterback to help them compete against the rest of the West.
The Broncos are also loaded with a tough defense which in part has been built up by their last coach, Vic Fangio, who has since been fired. Wilson will however be in good hands with their new Head Coach, former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
The Broncos are now truly a dangerous and fully loaded team but they are facing playoff-level competition six times a season just within their division. The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off four AFC Championship appearances with a Super Bowl win, and the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders are fielding dangerous units that appear to be continuing to rise up regardless of the competition.
The AFC West in 2021 combined had a total of 38 wins and 30 losses, 10 of those losses coming from the Broncos contributing only seven wins. With the addition of Russell Wilson, there will not be a single team in the AFC West finishing under .500 next season. Write that down.
The Broncos took a huge gamble in trading away their top draft picks for the next two years, along with trading away an up-and-coming tight end in Noah Fant. But with Aaron Rodgers staying in Green Bay and a less than stellar rookie QB class coming, this was the gamble the Broncos needed to make.
They have a loaded offense, an efficient defense (not a Legion of Boom unfortunately for Russ), a Head Coach who will utilize another All-Pro quarterback correctly, and a veteran QB who threw for 25 touchdowns and six interceptions last season. The Broncos are finally formidable on both sides of the ball with this addition.
Anyone that is a football fan should look forward to any inter-divisional match-up next year as Wilson and Hackett will have their hands full dueling Mahomes, Herbert, and Carr six times a year. We are here for it and we can’t wait.
The AFC West just got even more dangerous.