Are the Chargers the best team in the AFC West?

Mandatory Credit: Rich Graessle-Getty Images
Mandatory Credit: Rich Graessle-Getty Images /

A rival executive tabbed the Chargers as the team to beat in the AFC West this year, but is there merit to that?

After an 0-4 start last year, the Los Angeles Chargers rallied to finish 9-7 and fall just shy of a playoff spot. So they’re on the rise heading into a new season, with Vegas odds pointing to them as the favorite to win the AFC West. Now, a rival executive has put more accolades on the Chargers.

Via Peter King of The, Broncos general manager John Elway evaluated his team’s division after the draft.

“It’s the wild, wild West. I thought the Chargers did a really nice job with the draft,” Elway told reporters in Omaha, via The MMQB’s Peter King. “They’ve got the settled quarterback, even though the Raiders do too. Looking at it, [the Chargers] may be the ones to beat. As I stand here, looking at it, the Chargers might be the team to beat.”

The Chargers have the most proven quarterback in the division, as Philip Rivers gets set for his 15th NFL season and his 13th as the starter. He has a solid group of skill position talent around him, and Mike Pouncey is an upgrade at center as long as he’s healthy. Even without Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry looks ready to step up as the No. 1 tight end.

The Chargers have a virtually unrivaled pass rushing duo, in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, and a deep secondary was further fortified when safety Derwin James fell to them with the 17th pick in last month’s draft. As long as most of the key pieces stay healthy, the league’s No. 3 scoring defense in 2017 should be just as good this year.

Elsewhere in the AFC West, there are question marks at the most important position on the field. Will Case Keenum be an actual upgrade under center for the Broncos? Can the Chiefs stay on track while accounting for any ups and downs from Patrick Mahomes? Can Jon Gruden get Derek Carr back on track? Only a major injury to Rivers would bring anything close to those kind of questions for the Chargers.

Next: 5 landing spots for Antonio Gates

Positive words from a rival GM can’t always be taken seriously. But top to bottom the Chargers look like the best team in the AFC West, which confirms Elway’s opinion.