Are the Broncos, Raiders and Chargers actually better than the Chiefs? Making sense of the AFC West through NFL Week 3

When the NFL schedule is released, the vast majority of fans do the same thing. It's virtually a contractual obligation for fans to go through their favorite team's season game by game and pick winners. It's just part of the job. I would argue that these projections are usually a tad optimistic, but part of the fun of getting excited for the season is imagining the feeling of beating your archrivals or pulling out an upset on the road. I get it.

My guess is that if we could somehow get every projection from every single person who went down the schedules of the four teams in the AFC West, not a single one of them would be perfect through three weeks. I'm not knocking the fans, either; ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) didn't expect this, and if there's any professional who expected the Chiefs to be in last place in the AFC West after three games, I'd tip my cap. Nobody saw this coming, myself included.

Let's take a look at what has become a wide-open race in the AFC West. After winning the division five straight times, the Chiefs were heavy favorites to claim No. 6. Now they're in a pack of three teams trailing the new favorites. FPI thinks one of the four teams in the AFC West is way ahead of the competition, but it might not be the one you expect:

Jump to a team:
Broncos | Chargers
Chiefs | Raiders

1. Denver Broncos (3-0)

Preseason FPI projection to win AFC West: 12.9%
Post-Week 3 FPI projection to win AFC West: 39.7%
Difference: Plus-26.8%