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Around the AFC West: Playoff prep in KC, offseason in LA and Vegas

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 4: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady drops back to pass in the fourth quarter. The New England Patriots host the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card AFC Division game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Jan. 4, 2020. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The Broncos are in full offseason mode. This is the time of year when the scouting department – both pro and college – take over in the driver’s seat for the team. Their work this offseason could propel Denver back into the postseason in 2020.

The rest of the division is trying to get back to the playoffs or stay in a Super Bowl window. The main competition for the Broncos should continue to be tough for the upcoming season provided that the other three teams make quality decisions with their scouting departments this offseason.

Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.

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Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are getting ready for a home playoff game against the Texans on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. While their defense is playing better, the Chiefs will have their hands full with Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Last week in the Wild Card Game against the Bills, Watson showed once again how he thrives under pressure – leading his team back from a 16-0 deficit to win.

Containing Watson is the first priority for the Chiefs. Watson can beat you with his legs if he needs to – either by keeping plays alive with his feet or scrambling for first downs. However, it’s his ability as a passer from the pocket (or on the run) that makes him one of the best young quarterbacks in the league.

Earlier this year, the Texans went into Arrowhead and beat the Chiefs 31-24. Kansas City is playing better on defense than they were back in October, but they may not have an answer for Watson and Company. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is known for coming up short in the playoffs during his career and he’ll want to avoid another wasted season with a loss to the Texans on Sunday. The Chiefs are clearly in a Super Bowl window with Patrick Mahomes, but do not have any championships yet to show for it.

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Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders have some big decisions to make entering the 2020 season. One of the biggest decisions they’ll have to make has to do with their quarterback Derek Carr. The team has been lukewarm about Carr’s future with the team and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move on from the veteran passer for a different player at the position.

I could see Tom Brady winding up with a team like the Raiders. It’s the perfect “Raider” scenario given their long history of taking older players – perhaps past their prime – and putting them in silver and black. Brady is still a star attraction and this team will be getting a lot of attention because of where they’re playing in 2020.

I’m actually in Las Vegas as of this writing and am staying across the highway from the new stadium. It is not complete yet, but it looks amazing. Every fan from around the country is going to want to come to Vegas to see their team play the Raiders.

Vegas is a town full of older acts who still attract a lot of attention – sounds like a perfect spot for Brady!

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Los Angeles Chargers

In the least-shocking news ever, reports are speculating Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is “unlikely to return” to the club in 2020. Gordon is set to become an unrestricted free agent this spring and likely will be playing elsewhere this upcoming season.

A former first-round pick (2015) out of Wisconsin, Gordon has but one 1,000-yard season to his credit after five years in the pros. Gordon has talent and speed as a runner, but injuries and inconsistencies have plagued his time with the Chargers.

Early in the 2019 season, Gordon was holding out for a new contract and reportedly turned down a deal from the Chargers that would pay him around $10 million annually. While other backs were getting paid, Gordon was waiting patiently for a deal that he felt comfortable with.

The Chargers even tried to get something for Gordon via trade, but there were no takers. The asking price was unknown but for a veteran running back like Gordon it could not have been that high.

This is a great running back class in the 2020 NFL Draft and the Chargers have the No. 6 overall pick. Some think they might take a quarterback with that selection, as they are likely moving on from veteran Philip Rivers. However, watch for them to be in the running back market – most likely with a rookie they can pair with change-of-pace back Austin Ekeler in 2020.