Posted on September 21, 2022
Even though most of the teams are 1-1, it is starting to become a little more clear which teams are legit and which are Week One flukes.
Sure, the teams have faced different levels of tests so far.
Some teams have gone up against two other good west teams while some have faced far inferior opponents. That will work itself out over time as each team gets more games under their belt.
There will surely be more movement on this list as the weeks go on but for now, it seems like the teams have settled into their spots.
Some squads have established themselves at the top of the pack while others have solidified their spot at the bottom.
Will this list look the same after week 18? No, it probably won’t look the same after two weeks but I would guess that the ranking at the end of the season will look more like this week’s than last week’s.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0-0)
Last week’s Thursday Night Football matchup was unofficially the battle for the number one spot on this list (which was clearly the reason both teams played so hard).
So, with a 27-24 win over the Chargers, the Chiefs have firmly entrenched themselves as the team to beat in the west.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes continues to look good, throwing for 235 yards and two scores. He is the biggest reason that the Chiefs are as dangerous as they are but some extra credit must go to the offensive line that kept Mahomes clean all night, allowing just one sack.
The big star of the show against the Chargers was the defense, especially rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson who scored the go-ahead touchdown via a 99-yard pick-six.
The defense was the big concern heading into the season so it’s a good sign that that side of the ball is playing better. With a solid defense, there really is nothing holding the Chiefs back from being the most dominant team in the west.
2. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1-0)Despite coming off a loss, the Chargers are still in the top tier of west teams. They proved that they could hang with the Chiefs and if it weren’t for one poorly-timed pick-six, they probably would have won the game.
Los Angeles was without star wide receiver Keenan Allen, but that didn’t stop quarterback Justin Herbert from having a great game. He threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns, the last of which came after suffering a massive hit and an apparent abdominal injury.
There were plenty of bright spots aside from Herbert in the game for the Chargers.
Cornerback Asante Samuel looked very good in his first game playing with fellow cornerback J.C. Jackson and could have had an interception or two if he didn’t drop them.
Tight end Gerald Everett looks to be a valuable addition to the offense and has become a reliable target for Herbert.
There isn’t really such thing as a moral victory in this sport but the Chargers still shouldn’t feel too bad about the loss. If any team is going to give the Chiefs a run for the money at the top of this ranking then it is going to be the Chargers.
3. Los Angeles Rams (1-1-0)Sometimes we can overreact to one game and that seems like what happened last week when the Rams lost to the Bills.
There are two things that we have learned now that add a little more context to that game.
The first is that the Rams aren’t completely broken. They looked much better this week in their 31-27 win over the Falcons.
The second thing we learned is that the Bills are just a juggernaut of a team that might actually be unstoppable, which they proved by thrashing the Titans on Monday Night Football.
The Rams still do not look like the version of this team that won the Super Bowl last year but they are getting closer to it.
If they could rack up a few more wins, some of them in a convincing fashion, then they will inspire a lot more confidence in the team going forward.
4. San Francisco 49ers (1-1-0)Sunday was a very bittersweet day for the 49ers. They earned a dominant 27-7 win against the division-rival Seahawks but also lost starting quarterback Trey Lance for the season in the process.
San Francisco can still win with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo considering he led them to the NFC Championship Game last year.
Injuries are starting to become an issue for the 49ers, though.
Lance is done for the season, running back Elijah Mitchell is out for an extended period of time, and tight end George Kittle is still dealing with a hamstring injury.
This team still has plenty of talent to win games without those players but it is going to make earning victories a lot harder.
The defense in particular needs to step up, which it has done by giving up just 19 points in two games (the lone Seattle touchdown came on a blocked field goal).
The Niners are likely still a playoff team but their margin error for error is shrinking with each injury. A good rest of the season can definitely get the 49ers an NFC West title but if he struggles they could easily miss the playoffs.
5. Arizona Cardinals (1-1-0)The Cardinals pulled off a miracle in their 29-23 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, which was enough to move them up a few spots.
All it took was overcoming a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter, an insane scramble from quarterback Kyler Murray on a two-point conversion, and a walk-off fumble return for a touchdown in overtime for Arizona to emerge victorious.
The Cardinals still have some concerns, such as a porous secondary and a pass rush that could only get one sack on a very bad Raiders’ offensive line.
Especially after getting torched by the Chiefs last week, the Cardinals’ defense is easily the weak spot of this team, having allowed the most points in the league so far this season.
It is going to be up to Murray and the rest of the offense to keep this team in contention in the NFC.
That is going to put a lot of pressure on head coach Kliff Kingsbury, which he may not be able to handle given his track record of teams falling apart down the stretch.
6. Las Vegas Raiders (0-2-0)Of all the 0-2 teams in the league, the Raiders are probably the best. Unfortunately, there is no reward for being the best winless team in the league.
Las Vegas has suffered two close losses so far. First to the Chargers and then to the Cardinals by a score of 29-23 this past weekend.
While close losses can be encouraging because it means the team was competitive, it is still a loss and at some point, the Raiders will have to actually get in the win column.
Quarterback Derek Carr is leading a slid pass game but the rushing attack has been pretty bad. The Raiders have just 144 yards on the ground through two games, which is third-worst in the league, and have failed to score a rushing touchdown.
The defense was a known weak spot heading into the season and while they have performed adequately, some improvement on that side of the ball is still necessary. The Raiders have just one sack through two games and are in the bottom 10 in pressure percentage.
It is going to be difficult for the Raiders to contend in a loaded AFC West after this 0-2 start but if the defense can turn things around quickly, then Las Vegas may have a chance to rise up this list.
7. Denver Broncos (1-1-0)The Broncos are off to a much worse start than anyone could have possibly imagined. A week after losing to the Seahawks with some questionable game management, Denver eked out a 16-9 victory over the lowly Texans.
The Broncos were getting booed by their home crowd and mocked for their clock management, which is never a good sign.
Quarterback Russell Wilson, who the team paid a fortune in both assets and money to get, has a 58.9 percent completion percentage after going 14 of 31 for 219 yards and throwing one touchdown and interception.
Wilson was supposed to be the quarterback that elevated the Broncos to Super Bowl contention like Peyton Manning did in 2013 but instead he looks like a fish out of water for his new team.
To make matters even worse, the Denver defense, which hasn’t allowed a touchdown in the last three halves of football, could be without cornerback Pat Surtain after he suffered an injury on Sunday.
There is no doubt that this team can turn it around due to the level of talent they have, the only question is will they?
Wilson will need to play a lot better and head coach Nathaniel Hackett also needs to do a much better job because so far he has looked in over his head as a first-time head coach.
8. Seattle Seahawks (1-1-0)The Seahawks’ time not at the bottom of this list was fun but very short-lived. Seattle returns to the cellar of the west teams after an embarrassing 27-7 loss to the 49ers.
The Seahawks failed to score an offensive touchdown all game and were only able to get on the board thanks to a blocked field goal by rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen that was returned for a touchdown by cornerback Michael Jackson.
It has become obvious that the version of Seattle that took down the Broncos last week was energized by the emotions of the game and is certainly not as good as it looked in that contest.
Quarterback Geno Smith continues to be efficient, 24 for 30 against San Francisco, but underwhelming, with 197 yards and no touchdowns.
This offense is going to struggle mightily if the run game can’t produce, which was the case on Sunday when they ran for 36 yards on 14 carries, even with Second-Round pick running back Kenneth Walker making his debut for the team.
It is also evident that the defense is not good enough to win them games against good competition. That unit is solid but not nearly at the level needed to make up for the lackluster offense.
The Seahawks had their moment in week one and will now play the rest of the season looking like the rebuilding team that everyone thought they would be this year.
—More from Cody Schoeler—
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