We are going to see a lot of AFC West games on primetime this season. A lot. So far this offseason (looking just at the highlights here) the Los Angeles Chargers have add Khalil Mack to rush the passer opposite of Joey Bosa, the Denver Broncos have traded for quarterback Russell Wilson (as well as signed Randy Gregory on the other side of the ball), and on Thursday evening the Las Vegas Raiders traded for wide receiver Davante Adams which came just one day after signing pass rusher Chandler Jones. The team not mentioned there just so happens to have Patrick Mahomes.
It is going to be a gauntlet for one team to win that division next year which is why they are all likely adding at this insane pace. Many people love to talk about how you build your football team to win your division first so it makes sense that the Chargers, Broncos, and Raiders are all doing what they can to catch Kansas City.
This is just one division of the AFC, though, which ignores the Buffalo Bills who wound up with Von Miller this free agency period. There are of course the Cincinnati Bengals in the conference as well, needless to say whoever wins the AFC will be quite the team to have survived them all.
The NFC is begging for a team to treat it like the AFC and the Dallas Cowboys are failing to do so
Obviously the reigning world champions are the Los Angeles Rams who are an NFC team. They are going to be stout in their title defense, especially after adding wide receiver Allen Robinson in free agency (they also reportedly want to maintain Odell Beckham Jr.).
The way that people are gawking at the AFC West right now though really started with the Rams as far as recent memory is concerned. L.A. pioneered the “who cares about draft picks, go for it” disposition (although the Seattle Seahawks of the early part of last decade were similar) and what’s more is they seem to always find a way to squeeze massive contracts under the salary cap.
There are a few contenders to the Rams in the conference and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be chief among them now that Tom Brady has returned from his brief retirement. The Bucs managed to keep important players like Chris Godwin and Carlton Davis this free agency period so they surely are going to be contenders, but only 26% of SB Nation Reacts users think that Tom Brady will play in another Super Bowl.
Who else would even challenge in the NFC? The Green Bay Packers were the top seed in the conference this past playoffs, but after trading Davante Adams away they are obviously weaker. In fact, all of the players we listed up top that have flocked to the AFC West (Khalil Mack, Russell Wilson, Randy Gregory, Davante Adams, and Chandler Jones) all left NFC teams that have been to the playoffs in at least one of the last two seasons for the opposite conference. The NFC is weakening before our very eyes.
Some will say that it is setting up for Tom Brady’s return from retirement to end in the way that many of Tom Brady’s seasons have ended, with yet another Lombardi trophy. You would figure that some team in the conference would see an opening in the conference and try to take command (no offense, Washington) of the opportunity.
The Dallas Cowboys had every reason to be that team when this offseason began. They were on the cusp of achieving something great and so far through free agency have only weakened themselves as a roster. In the spirit of building a team to win its respective division, the Cowboys are almost taking their roster to the status quo that is the NFC East which is a pretty low standard these days.
Nothing lasts forever in the NFL and eventually the NFC will look the way that its opposing conference does on paper. When that day comes things will only be more challenging for the Cowboys to win it. The time is now.