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Sports Illustrated writer thinks Broncos and Raiders “stuck in neutral” in 2019

Conor Orr seems to think the that the door is wide open for the Chiefs to win their fourth-straight division title

Elway fires head coach Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

In an article on Friday, Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr identified five NFL teams that are “stuck in neutral.” He identified this as “the NFL’s purgatory—somewhere around .500, with [draft] picks consistently in the 11-20 range.”

Two of the teams Orr picked as being unable to get it in gear for 2019 are in the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs: the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders.

Orr thinks the Broncos will be better with their new head coach Vic Fangio, but that’s about as far as he will go.

I’m going to couch a few of these teams. I think the Broncos will be markedly better under Vic Fangio, and I think that his success will lead a bit of a counter movement among teams who opted not to hire from the Sean McVay brat pack. That being said, a great running game and O.K. weapon set at wide receiver is not enough to accentuate a 34-year-old, oft-injured Joe Flacco. They will be fine, but not jolted out of their current status as a middle-of-the-pack team in a very good division. Maybe our opinion changes if Drew Lock comes in and stretches the Broncos into a more unpredictable, vertical offense.

With regard to the Raiders, Orr says the team has lot of young talent, but will be hampered by head coach Jon Gruden’s reliance on veteran signings.

I think if any of us actually believed that Jon Gruden was going to resist his tendency to lean toward flashy, veteran help than this would be a different story. Despite an injection of young talent, there is a parallel track of mercurial elders to soak up reps and playing time. It’s in every coach’s right to pivot from a rebuild to a contender, but if that’s the case, what was the point of offering Gruden a 10-year contract as if it was going to be built the right way? One thing this team has going for it is Derek Carr, a quarterback who hopefully manages to survive the onslaught of insanity (starting with Hard Knocks!) and is on a relatively affordable long-term deal.

For reference, the other teams Orr picked as candidates for mediocrity in 2019 were the Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

This is the time of year that we routinely see predictions that the Los Angeles Chargers will win the AFC West — as several national analysts have already done this year. Orr isn’t one of them. A week ago — citing the age of their core players — he listed the Chargers as a team whose Super Bowl window is closing.

If Orr is right, that leaves the Chiefs with a wide-open window to win their fourth-straight AFC West title in 2019 — extending their first-ever domination of the division over a period of years.

What do you think?


Which AFC West team won’t be able to get out of neutral in 2019?

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