1. Las Vegas Raiders (5-2)
The Silver and Black are atop the AFC West after their win against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Raiders have continued to find success since Rich Bisaccia took over as interim head coach and have been getting key production from quarterback Derek Carr, who is second in the league in passing yards. The quartet of playmakers in Henry Ruggs III, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Bryan Edwards have been dangerous as well, not including the contributions of the talented backfield of Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake and Alec Ingold.
The defense has played up to par too, and taken the league by storm. The Raiders are currently first in quarterback hits (61), tied for third in pass deflections (33) and tied for fifth in sacks (18). Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue have been the anchors of the defensive line with a combined nine sacks, and cornerbacks Casey Hayward Jr. and Nate Hobbs have yet to surrender a touchdown in coverage.
2. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)
The Chargers are the only team in the AFC West division to have defeated the Raiders this season. After going 7-9 last season, the Bolts looked fully charged this season with Brandon Staley as their new head coach. NFL 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert is continuing to show he is a rising superstar in this league – accumulating 1,771 passing yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. In the Chargers' victory over the Raiders, he threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns. His main target this season has been Mike Williams, who has nearly 500 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
The defense has been given in boost in the secondary with the return of All-Pro safety Derwin James and second-round draft pick Asante Samuel Jr. The two defensive backs have seven pass deflections and three interceptions between them. The Silver and Black will have their rematch with the Chargers in Allegiant Stadium in Week 18. With how things are looking, the divisional title could be on the line when they face off in the regular season closer.
3) Kansas City Chiefs (3-4)
Things have looked different this season for the Chiefs.
The defending AFC Champions have spent the first part of their season in flux – as they haven't had a losing record through seven games since the 2015 season. So far, the Chiefs defense has given up the third-most points and the fourth-most yards allowed in the NFL – not to mention they are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the least amount of sacks in the league.
Patrick Mahomes, who was voted the number one player on the NFL's 'Top 100 Players of 2021' list, has not looked as accurate this season behind a rebuilt offensive line. He's thrown nine interceptions this season, having thrown only 11 total interceptions in 2019 and 2020. The scary thing about the Chiefs is that they still have all the tools from a coaching and player standpoint to make a run for the AFC crown for a third straight season. It will be interesting to see if they can bounce back, with a primetime Sunday Night football showdown around the corner at Allegiant Stadium.
4) Denver Broncos (3-4)
The Broncos have a great mixture of young and veteran leadership on their roster – which resulted in them going 3-0 to start the season.
However, due to injuries and strength of schedule, the Broncos are now on a four-game slide and are trying desperately to stay afloat in the division. Teddy Bridgewater has taken control, throwing for over 1,700 yards and 12 touchdowns so far. He's also completing 70 percent of his passes despite missing star receiver Jerry Jeudy since the opening week of the season. Bridgewater had his most difficult game of the season against none other than the Las Vegas Raiders, turning the ball over four times to the Silver and Black in their Week 6 matchup.
Even with future Hall of Famer Von Miller leading the way with 4.5 sacks, the Broncos defense has still allowed the fourth-most points in the league. However, like the Chiefs, the Broncos record doesn't exactly indicate how good this team actually is or could become with experience and health. Expect a dog fight from the Broncos in their Week 16 rematch with the Raiders.