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View Full Version : ESPN the Mag says Chargers to Super Bowl/AFC West preview


Rulon Velvet Jones
09-01-2009, 10:39 AM
The Magazine's overall Super Bowl pick is the San Diego Chargers, in a title game victory over the New York Giants.

Playoff teams in the AFC: Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars (wild card) and Baltimore Ravens (wild card).

Playoff teams in the NFC: Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles (wild card) and Minnesota Vikings (wild card).
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Projected order of finish


1. San Diego Chargers (13-3)

Last year's team had one of the NFL's best passing attacks, even with a gimpy LT, who's healthy. So are defensive stalwarts Shawne Merriman and Antonio Cromartie. Come January, though, the team will still be hamstrung by the hapless Norv Turner.


2. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)

Shotgun-happy Matt Cassel matches up well with shotgun-happy head coach Todd Haley, and we know Scott Pioli can run a franchise. But expect tough going as Glenn Dorsey, Derrick Johnson and the rest of the front seven swap positions to implement the 3-4.


3. Oakland Raiders (6-10)

Will JaMarcus Russell succeed after his 5-11 career start? It could happen (see: Peyton Manning, who went 3-13 ). Or not (see: Joey Harrington, who went 4-12). Regardless, the Raiders fixed their 31st-ranked run D this off-season -- by adding pass-rushers. Not smart.


4. Denver Broncos (5-11)

New boss Josh McDaniels broke up the offense. Even worse, Denver has its oldest starting secondary of the decade. Oh, yeah, it's got a new 3-4 front that depends on veteran backups and defensive linemen playing out of position as outside linebackers. Yikes.

Jaws vs. Gruden


Jaws: The West begins and ends with who's at quarterback. Philip Rivers will carry the Chargers to an easy division win, while Matt Cassel will significantly improve the young Chiefs.


Gruden: It's not about the letters Q and B. Try numbers: 3-4. Rivers will certainly help the Chargers take the West, but it's the return of Shawne Merriman and the addition of Larry English that will bring back the lights-out pass-rush. The Chiefs will have some serious growing pains in their new 3-4 scheme. And Josh McDaniels just installed a ­defense with three down linemen in Denver, but it's going to be awkward until he gets the right personnel.


Jaws: McDaniels has a bigger area of concern: Kyle Orton. He's serviceable when he has a great D and a solid running game, but he's going to be asked to carry the Broncos. At least they have Coach's favorite former Bucs QB, Chris Simms, as a backup.


Gruden: Hilarious, Jaws. Talking about my past, the Raiders -- my former employers -- are on the upswing. Jeff Garcia and JaMarcus Russell are an odd couple, but they'll help each other.

Jaws: Yeah, but Russell still needs to grow up.

How should we view JaMarcus Russell so far?

Football Outsiders' Name of the Game for the AFC West

Pass-Catching Backs
From LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles to Jamaal Charles and Darren McFadden, the AFC West boasts the NFL's best set of pass-catching running backs. And the best will only get better once Knowshon Moreno gets going in Denver; he was an elite receiver out of the backfield in college, a reliable predictor of NFL success.

Team RB's projected Rec Yards NFL Rank
San Diego Chargers 989 4
Denver Broncos 843 5
Oakland Raiders 620 15
Kansas City Chiefs 464 23


KC Joyner's Counterintelligence


Evaluating Russell
JaMarcus Russell is the most underrated young quarterback in the league. His eight games with an 85-plus passer rating were more than Joe Flacco (seven) and nearly as many as Matt Ryan (nine) managed last season. Russell also bested those two in passer rating in Weeks 11-17.

Stat Russell Flacco Ryan
Comp/At 93/152 106/185 116/184
Yards 1,134 1,322 1,531
TDs 7 7 5
INTs 4 5 6
Rating 88.5 81.0 84.8
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http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=4434730&type=story
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I'd like to go on record saying the Broncos will again be 2nd in the AFC West. KC and Oakland are turds and I just don't see it. For KC, there's not enough talent on that team to make any noise, they're going to struggle with Cassell and that terrible O-line and assistants are going to be worried that Haley will give them the axe at any minute and assume their role.

Oakland? They're the Raiders. There's not much to be said. I like the running game and the corners, but that's about it.

Denver in the 6-10, 8-8 range.

azbroncfan
09-01-2009, 10:41 AM
San Diego is facing home game blackouts too because of all the fairweather fans.

kappys
09-01-2009, 10:46 AM
Of course the one good think about the suck in the AFC-West is that once again SD will win the division and fail in the playoffs having become accustomed to easy schedules

scorpio
09-01-2009, 10:50 AM
I don't see how the Chiefs are going to win 7 games with no O-line and Brakey Frail as their backup.

cutler_to_marshall
09-01-2009, 11:08 AM
i would gladly take the chargers playoff failures over our end of the season fail routine the past few years.

boltaneer
09-01-2009, 11:10 AM
Of course the one good think about the suck in the AFC-West is that once again SD will win the division and fail in the playoffs having become accustomed to easy schedules

This is a good point. The recent trend is that those who come out on top of the toughest divisions, do well in the playoffs.

Tombstone RJ
09-01-2009, 11:11 AM
Sandy Eggo has no excuse for not getting to the SB. Weak division, healthy team, very little roster and coaching turnover. It's now or never.

Rohirrim
09-01-2009, 11:12 AM
Chargers win the SB? I guess ESPN hasn't heard about "The Norv Effect." :wiggle:

lex
09-01-2009, 11:12 AM
i would gladly take the chargers playoff failures over our end of the season fail routine the past few years.

OK, but you have to take the rest of it as well. You cant cherry pick. If you like their recent past, no one is stopping you from becoming a Dolts fan.

TheReverend
09-01-2009, 11:15 AM
Jaws: McDaniels has a bigger area of concern: Kyle Orton. He's serviceable when he has a great D and a solid running game, but he's going to be asked to carry the Broncos. At least they have Coach's favorite former Bucs QB, Chris Simms, as a backup.


Gruden: Hilarious, Jaws.

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Is that them taking a shot at Simms or have I just gotten that jaded this off-season?

WolfpackGuy
09-01-2009, 11:16 AM
The Chargers should have 6 wins in the division.
That'll help them a lot.

cutler_to_marshall
09-01-2009, 11:16 AM
hahah who said anything about being a chargers fan ? This isnt the 90s anymore and we havent done jack **** in the post season for as long as i can remember.

McMastermind
09-01-2009, 11:18 AM
The Chargers should have 6 wins in the division.
That'll help them a lot.

There is no way in hell that they will sweep the AFC West.....NONE.

Bronx33
09-01-2009, 11:18 AM
remember who the head coach is folks...

WolfpackGuy
09-01-2009, 11:19 AM
McDaniels has a bigger area of concern: Kyle Orton. He's serviceable when he has a great D and a solid running game, but he's going to be asked to carry the Broncos.

Say this out loud and you'll hear just how bad it sounds.
SD should go 6-0 within the division with ease.

cutler_to_marshall
09-01-2009, 11:21 AM
remember who the head coach is folks...

this fact always gives me a chuckle. I guess they might find a way to biff up the season after all!

I just hope our rookie head coach can get his feet set and deliver the goods for a long time.

TheReverend
09-01-2009, 11:22 AM
This is a good point. The recent trend is that those who come out on top of the toughest divisions, do well in the playoffs.

No, it's really not.

Cardinals walked through the division and then quit after wrapping up a post season berth in like week 8.

Pitt had Baltimore (who they beat all 3 teams they matched up last season) to deal with and that's it

AFCE was the best div in the AFC last season and Miami went one and done.

Only recently has the AFCE looked decent again... the Patriots have been strolling through that division and then collecting championship rings all decade.

The Colts had the same situation going after the fall of McNair/EddieGeorge until recently.

Honestly, the Giants are the only Superbowl team that's come from a "tough division" in a while.

loborugger
09-01-2009, 11:57 AM
Ah, its August. And once again, the pundits all have the Chargers charging to the Lombardi trophy. This is what, 4 years in a row now? They are the media darlings.

They have disappointed so many times now that if I was a pundit, I wouldnt even pick 'em if I thought they were the team to beat... just to save face.

But, then again, this the channel that cant get off Favre's jock, so it goes with the territory.