Jul 22, 2010

Upon Further Review: AFC West

Day 264

Most people that know me know that I am not a fan of the Denver Broncos. But I will not let that influence my opinions here. What you read here is what I think will happen in the AFC West and not what I want to have happen for these teams.

And you know why I don't care for the Broncos? Because they are being shoved down my throat. Everyone here in Utah is a default Denver fan and when they won the two SuperBowls it made matters even worse. You know the Cardinals are just as close but they get no love here in Utah. It is all Broncoville. And all I get to see on TV are Bronco games. I really wish I could afford NFL Sunday Ticket just so I don't have to watch Broncos games. Now I don't mind watching the Broncos face off with fellow AFC West opponents. Usually those games are fun because each team hates each other.

I have no problem with real Bronco fans. Those of course are those that live in Colorado or are from Colorado. I even don't mind those fans that have been fans since the Orange Crush. (I would love to see those uniforms make a comeback) But I don't like fans that bandwagon and choose this team because of geography because they don't know better.

Don't get me wrong. I respect the Broncos. I liked Mike Shanahan, I liked Terrell Davis, John Elway, Steve Atwater, Rod Smith, Shannon Sharpe and other players. The only Denver player I hated was Romanowski.

Okay... rant aside. Let's get on with my picks for the AFC West. The division maybe a bit weak but it should be fun to watch these teams battle for the divisional crown. All of the teams are have some sort of a chance in vying for the division.


1) San Diego Chargers

What I Like:
Phillip Rivers. Say what you want about the guy but you have to admit that he is talented. This is clearly his team now and without LaDainian to lean on he will put up some big numbers. This is the Chargers title to lose. If this is the Chargers that ended the season last year, they should take the title. If the Chargers start slow again, it will be a lot tougher to catch up. This is no longer a 2-team division and every divisional game will mean something.

What I Don't Like:
 The team is another year older and losing 4 straight times in the playoffs could take their toll even more. I still think the Chargers are in good shape to take the division but picking them to go deep in the playoffs is another matter. The two areas that concern me the most are the defensive back and running back positions. The defensive backs could be good but they have not played up to their potential. The Chargers did trade up in the draft to snag a new running back to replace LaDainian in Ryan Mathews but starting a rookie is risky. It can pay off like the Chargers know but it could bite them in the end. Sproles is a good backup but is not a running back that can play every down.

2) Oakland Raiders

What I Like:
I know, I know. I picked the Raiders to come in 2nd place. I am going to catch a lot of crap from my family for this one. But you have to realize that they are not in a tough division and they do have some unrealized talent. I really like the trade bringing QB Jason Campbell to Oakland and they are better than you think. This year the Raiders defense will help the team win games and Campbell immediately improves the offense. You know what their secret weapon will be? Surprise. The Raiders have not had a winning season since they went to the SuperBowl years and years ago and the rest of the NFL thinks of them as doormats. Not this year. They will surprise opponents and steal some wins. Maybe not a lot of wins but enough to go perhaps 8-8 and come in second.

What I Don't Like:
While the Raiders have a decent running game, I am concerned about the offense. Or the lack of offense. I could place the blame on former QB Jamarcus Russell but I don't think he was the only problem. The offense suffers in the receiving game and really need a wideout that can catch and help elevate the running game. I also worry that this team will cave quickly if they don't taste success quickly enough.

3) Denver Broncos

What I Like:
It seems like the Broncos are taking a few steps backward before they surge forward. I do like Head Coach Josh McDaniels and that he has already put his mark on this team. It is a gutsy move (which is what I like) that can either pay off in spades or cost him his job in the future. Luckily the Broncos play in a division that is really up for grabs and they will play hard for McDaniels. The team is younger than last year and hopefully McDaniels can harness that youth and get them pointed in the right direction. I also respect that the Broncos were willing to ship headache Brandon Marshall away. They will miss his offensive output but it might be a relief in the locker room without him.

What I Don't Like:
The Broncos are heavily relying on their drafts and Kyle Orton. Orton did prove that he is a capable QB we all know he is just cog in a machine until they get Tebow on the field. The players from last year's draft did nothing last year and they will need to step it up heavily this year for the Broncos to be competitive. RB Knowshon Moreno has shown glimpse of what he could be but he will really have to step up especially since the Broncos allowed WR Marshall and TE Tony Scheffler to skip town. I don't like what I see in the Denver offense and their defense has some holes to fill. If young players can step up, the Broncos can compete for the division but that is a mighty big if.

4) Kansas City Chiefs

What I Like:
While I do pick the Chiefs to be last in their division I do think that they are finally rebounding from three consecutive losing seasons. I am a big fan of Head Coach Todd Haley and I really believe the Chiefs have got something going. I like that they brought in and reunited Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis as coordinators and jettisoned troubled RB Larry Johnson. They still have plenty holes to fill but I think they have done a great job addressing some of the major needs. The Chiefs may have one of the best running games with Thomas Jones and sophomore Jamaal Charles and that may help the Chiefs weak passing game. An 8-8 season wouldn't be that surprising and they will make life difficult in this division.

What I Don't Like:
As I just mentioned, the Chiefs do not frighten anyone with their passing game. QB Matt Cassel and WR Dwayne Bowe have a lot to prove and they will need to do it this season. If the Chiefs fall behind and with a mediocre defense that is certainly possible the Chiefs may be forced to pass more. And that may not be so pretty.

This is one of the NFL's weakest divisions but with three of the four teams on the same level it will be very competitive. It is very feasible to win this division with 8-9 wins and every team has a pretty decent shot.

NEXT WEEK: The column goes south as I take a look at the NFC South division and I will also complain about rookies and their insane contracts.

1 comment:

  1. I was anxiously anticipating this post!!! :) Glad to know you don't hate us for being TRUE Bronco fans... have been for years. And I like a lot of the same players you have.. funny story.. we actually went up to watch them practice in Greeley when Griese was QB and Terrell Davis was playing... I totally shouted to Terrell that we had a son (I had a picture of my nephew, Kevin, in case he asked to see because this was before kids for us) that we'd named after him!! I'll have to post about the Broncos and our experiences being fans... good blogging ideas are a-brewing! Thanks!!!! Love you guys! Love these posts!!!