The AFC West is currently composed of four teams, all of whom were created in 1960 as part of a new league, rival to the current NFL. After the merger of the two leagues, these four teams were kept together as a division within the AFC conference, and have continued to play each other twice per year since that time. This has led to a heated, hard fought and highly contested state of rivalry between all of the teams.
Because the Oakland Raiders dominated the AFL and the later the AFC West for so many years, the three other teams have got a particular hatred for them and their legendary owner Al Davis. Although any AFC West team treasures a victory over one another, none is more savored than a win against the Raiders. Until recently, those were hard to come by but the last few years have given the AFC West teams a chance to catch up and get some revenge against the top dog.
As a new fan, I quickly learned about this rivalry and that games against other AFC West teams are much more important than any others. Hearing that this battle has been going on for over 50 years is amazing, that’s multiple generations of fans and players keeping the flame of rivalry alive! Much of the hate between the teams is quite real, but on the other hand, without each other there would be no games to play, so there is a lot of grudging respect as well.
Some Raider fans I’ve spoken to wish that the other teams in the AFC West would crash and burn like the Denver Broncos did. Or they hoped the Chiefs would croak in the playoffs (well, I did too a little…). But I think ultimately that a strong AFC is better for everyone. If our division is weak, that means the Raiders will end up getting weaker. Only by playing against good teams can you forge a champion. So we need the other three teams to get better so that it’s more of a challenge, and it can help our team get stronger! I think we can all afford to hope the best for the other teams in the AFC West, and with time this division can again become the most feared in all of the NFL!