By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
It isn’t too often I can write about both divisions I cover in just one article but after the first week in the 2021 NFL season, the AFC West and the NFC West divisions have one pretty impressive thing in common. Every team in both divisions won their first games. That makes me able to say, without question, the West is currently Best in the NFL.
Yeah yeah, it’s just the first week. And yeah yeah, none of them played a divisional opponent. But it wasn’t just the fact they won their games, but how they won them that made it impressive.
Wild, Wild West.
All 4 teams in the AFC West and NFC West won in Week 1, marking the first week since the 1970 merger in which multiple divisions saw all their teams win.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 14, 2021
Let’s start with the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs are overwhelming favorites to head back to a third Super Bowl in a row. However, the Cleveland Browns came into KC to put a stopper on the “20-0” conversation. And they almost did, keeping the Chiefs completely in check all game. But it was the Kansas City defense, which doesn’t get a lot of kudos, that saved the day in the end, not the ever-praised offense. To KC fans, that should be exciting.
The LA Chargers and the Denver Broncos both played “up and coming” opponents, and both had a few hiccups in their games. Yet the teams played hard until the very end to make sure they secured the win. Both were in the lead for the majority of the game, holding their opponents off, so I’d think the fanbases are pumped to know their team has strength on both sides of the ball. I had said in a previous article that it wasn’t a good idea to sleep on Denver this season and that Chargers QB Justin Herbert was going to make a jump. This game looked to confirm those ideas.
The Las Vegas Raiders played on Monday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens, and most picked the Ravens to win this game. Like the rest of the AFC West, they had to fight hard to get the win, but win they did. This was the most Raiders-style win I’ve seen from them in a while, trying very hard to lose it in the end and sending it into overtime, but head coach Jon Gruden kept his team focused and ready for anything.
So the West is undefeated after week one.
NFC West ???????? AFC West
— Brian Nemhauser (@hawkblogger) September 14, 2021
As for the NFC West, I’ve said it a thousand times, but I’ll say it again. They are the best division in football. Hands down. No argument…and they proved it this weekend. All four teams dominated their opponents, beating them by an average of 16.25 points.
The Seattle Seahawks went into Indianapolis to play the Colts. Many media members picked the Colts to win this game due to how good their defense is, and the fact that the Colts had QB Carson Wentz back from his COVID quarantine. Seattle reminded everyone that Wentz has never beaten the Seahawks, and showed their flashy new offense under new coordinator Shane Waldron was going to be a problem for Seattle’s opponents this year.
The San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals both had their games well in hand early. San Francisco played the Detroit Lions, so it wasn’t much of a shock to see them ahead early, but the Lions didn’t go quietly. With just minutes left to play in the game, the 49ers let the Lions back in the game, barely stopping the game from going into overtime. This isn’t the first time this has happened to San Francisco, so I’m sure it will be addressed by HC Kyle Shanahan.
The Cardinals, however, weren’t the favorite in their game. They played the Tennessee Titans, who many expect to go very far into the playoffs this year, but by the look of this game, that may be a high expectation. Arizona, on both offense and defense, ran right over the Titans, making Tennessee look like absolute amateurs.
The LA Rams played Sunday Night Football against the Chicago Bears. While the Rams looked fantastic, this game really raised more questions about the Bears than anything else. Los Angeles played exactly like we knew they would, and new QB Matthew Stafford looked like the pro he is, but this game will force Chicago to take a hard look at their QB position.
Week 1 always brings a lot of hot takes, overreactions, and premature celebrations, however for the NFL West division, I don’t think it’s a hot take to say, as of right now, they look to be the best.
Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG