Breaking down the AFC West
The Oakland Raiders
Last season: 8-8
Offseason Losses: QB Jason Campbell, RB Michael Bush, WR Chaz Schilens, TE Kevin Boss, OT Stephon Heyer, G Bruce Campbell, C Samson Satele, DE/OLB Kamerion Wimbley, DE Trevor Scott, DE Jarvis Moss, DE Quentin Groves, DT John Henderson, ILB Darryl Blackstock, CB Stanford Routt, CB Chris Johnson, CB Lito Sheppard.
Veteran Additions: QB Matt Leinart, RB Mike Goodson, FB Owen Schmitt, G Mike Brisiel, DE Dave Tollefson, OLB Philip Wheeler, CB Shawntae Spencer, CB Ronald Bartell, CB Patrick Lee, HC Dennis Allen.
Round 3: Tony Bergstrom OT Utard
Round 4: Miles Burris OLB San Diego St.
Round 5: Jack Crowford DE Penn St.
Round 5: Juron Criner WR Arizona
Round 6: Christo Bilukidi DE Georgia St.
Round 7: Nathan Stupar OLB Penn St.
Sept. 10 San Diego Chargers (Mon.) 10:15 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Miami Dolphins 4:15 p.m.
Sept. 23 Pittsburgh Steelers 4:15 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Denver Broncos 4:05 p.m.
Oct. 7 BYE
Oct. 14 at Atlanta Falcons 1 p.m.
Oct. 21 Jacksonville Jaguars 4:15 p.m.
Oct. 28 at Kansas City Chiefs 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 11 at Baltimore Ravens 1 p.m.
Nov. 18 New Orleans Saints 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 25 at Cincinnati Bengals 1 p.m.
Dec. 2 Cleveland Browns 4:15 p.m.
Dec. 6 Denver Broncos (Thurs.) 8:20 p.m.
Dec. 16 Kansas City Chiefs 4:15 p.m.
Dec. 23 at Carolina Panthers 1 p.m.
Dec. 30 at San Diego Chargers 4:15 p.m.
Analysis: Oakland was part of the three way tie between the Broncos and Chargers that could have won the division. Injuries and player transitions were a big reason the offense stumbled. The defense falling to 29th in the league didnít help either. Predictably, they are firing their coach (again) and signed a really young replacement with little experience in Dennis Allen, who two years ago was a secondary coach and came from a team he coached to 20th in defense and 24th in scoring (which admittedly was a step forward), Outside of Juron Criner and Tony Bergstrom, their draft class is too small to expect any kind of immediate help there. Palmer is a big factor. If he improves, he could help them through a rough schedule that includes some horrible back-and-forth to the East Coast in the middle of the season. More likely, he will be the same Carson Palmer that weíve seen for several years: Moments of brilliance in an overall mediocre show. Darren McFadden will be back, which should help, but expect some fallout as Michael Bush is out, and putting more carries on a clearly fragile McFadden will not bode well for his long term reliability next seasons. Running backs donít get more durable the more they play. Also, every coach who was part of their vaunted running game is now gone. Their defensive line took a hit with Wimbley gone, and the rest of the unit is starting to show its age, so there may be some fallout there. I do think Oaklandís receivers are underrated and there is some fantasy value at the position, especially when you consider theyíre going to be throwing a lot to keep up this year.
Prediction 5-11: I think this is a transition year for the Raiders (isnít every year?). Theyíve lost too many free agents the past two years and given up too many draft picks for players with ho-hum ability to see any short-term grown. The good news for them is Al Davis is gone and they will no longer just be drafting the fastest guy in underwear at every position, so there is some hope that things will turn around, but not for several years. With a hard schedule, too many new pieces, and not very reliable ones on the roster, I donít expect much from the Raiders this season.
The Kansas City Chiefs
Last season: 7-9
Veteran Additions: QB Brady Quinn, RB Peyton Hillis, TE Kevin Boss, OT Eric Winston, DE/DT Ropati Pitoitua, CB Stanford Routt, HC Romeo Crennel (promoted).
Offseason Losses: QB Kyle Orton, RB Jackie Battle, FB Le'Ron McClain, TE Leonard Pope, OT Barry Richardson, C Casey Wiegmann, DE Wallace Gilberry, NT Kelly Gregg, CB Brandon Carr, S Jon McGraw, HC Todd Haley.
Round 1: Dontari Poe DT Memphis
Round 2: Jeff Allen OT Illinois
Round 3: Donald Stephenson OT Oklahoma
Round 4: Devon Wylie WR Fresno St.
Round 5: DeQuan Menzie CB Alabama
Round 6: Cyrus Gray RB Texas A&M
Round 7: Jerom Long DT San Diego St
Round 7: Junior Hemingway WR Michigan
Sept. 9 Atlanta Falcons 1 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Buffalo Bills 1 p.m.
Sept. 23 at New Orleans Saints 1 p.m.
Sept. 30 San Diego Chargers 1 p.m.
Oct. 7 Baltimore Ravens 1 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 p.m.
Oct. 21 BYE
Oct. 28 Oakland Raiders 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 1 at San Diego Chargers (Thurs.) 8:20 p.m.
Nov. 12 at Pittsburgh Steelers (Mon.) 8:30 p.m.
Nov. 18 Cincinnati Bengals 1 p.m.
Nov. 25 Denver Broncos 1 p.m.
Dec. 2 Carolina Panthers 1 p.m.
Dec. 9 at Cleveland Browns 1 p.m.
Dec. 16 at Oakland Raiders 4:15 p.m.
Dec. 23 Indianapolis Colts 1 p.m.
Dec. 30 at Denver Broncos 4:15 p.m.
Analysis: The Chiefs started the season with some terrible luck with season ending injuries to their star running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry and their emerging tight end Tony Moeaki. Despite this, they still managed to 15th in rushing and 11th in total defense. With all three returning this season, itís reasonable to assume they will continue improve on that this season. They have a solid special teams unit with the 8th best punt return average in the NFL and opponents had the fourth fewest kickoff return yards against them. I was a big fan of the way they threw a bunch of picks at offensive line. As an outsider, I would like to see the Chiefs go back to having arguably the best offensive line in the NFL the way they were in the early 2000. They also drafted Cyrus Gray, a big bruising back am sad to say I was a big fan of, and could be a perfect complement to Charles. Currently Bowe is holding out and it is looking likely he is willing to pull a Vincent Jackson and sit out the first ten games of the season. Steve Breston is a more than Solid number two but not a true number one and will not be able to fill that role. Jonathan Baldwin had a disappointing rookie year and hopes to improve going forward. It was pointed out to me that Baldwin was ranked 95th worst in drops last season. That doesnít bode well for his transition.
The Chiefs were 24th in passing offense and were third in fewest passing touchdowns thrown last year. This of course is because of their biggest weakness, Matt Cassel. Cassel is woefully average, and while it could be worse, it will not be much better. Romeo Crenel took over and was able to get them a couple of late wins, but his career .350 winning percentage is essentially terrible.
Prediction 9-7: The Chiefs are the sexy pick to win the division. Technically, with the schedule the AFC West has this year, 9-7 could win it. I donít believe they will, though. If the Chiefs get back to a ground game that is strong, they will be able to protect Cassel and lean on their defense. They have a team that could beat anyone if a few things go well. I correctly picked them to beat the Packers last year. This year I think losing Wiegman and getting two rookie tackles (wherever they play) means some transition on the offensive line. Unfortunately their schedule is absolutely brutal, and will require better QB play than they are capable of mustering. Against teams like the Saints, Ravens and Steelers, Cassel just does not have the ability to fire back if they get in a shoot-out. They also were tied for third fewest sacks in the NFL last year. Hali is basically a one man show, without any help it is less likely they get the stops they need to in critical situations. The deal-breaker for me is Crennel, who I consider another Wade Phillips in that they are both excellent coordinators and horrible head coaches. I expect their defense and running game to keep a lot of games close, but at the end of the season I think theyíll come up a bit short.
The San Diego Chargers
Last Season: 8-8
Veteran Additions: QB Charlie Whitehurst, RB Ronnie Brown, FB LeRon McClain, WR Robert Meachem, WR/KR Eddie Royal, G Rex Hadnot, DE/OLB Jarret Johnson, ILB Demorrio Williams, S Atari Bigby, KR Michael Spurlock, KR Roscoe Parrish.
Offseason Losses: QB Billy Volek, RB Mike Tolbert, WR Vincent Jackson, WR Patrick Crayton, OT Marcus McNeill, G Kris Dielman, C Scott Mruczkowski, DE/OLB Travis LaBoy, DT Tommie Harris, CB Dante Hughes, S Steve Gregory.
Round 1: Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina
Round 2: Kendell Reyes DT Connecticuit
Round 3: Brandon Taylor SS LSU
Round 4: Ladarius Green TE Louisiana-Lafayette
Round 5: Johnnie Troutman G Penn State
Round 7: David Molk C Michigan
Round 7: Edwin Baker RB Michigan St.
Sept. 10 at Oakland Raiders (Mon.) 10:15 p.m.
Sept. 16 Tennessee Titans 4:15 p.m.
Sept. 23 Atlanta Falcons 4:05 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Kansas City Chiefs 1 p.m.
Oct. 7 at New Orleans Saints 8:20 p.m.
Oct. 15 Denver Broncos (Mon.) 8:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 BYE
Oct. 28 at Cleveland Browns 1 p.m.
Nov. 1 Kansas City Chiefs (Thurs.) 8:20 p.m.
Nov. 11 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 p.m.
Nov. 18 at Denver Broncos 4:15 p.m.
Nov. 25 Baltimore Ravens 4:05 p.m.
Dec. 2 Cincinnati Bengals 4:15 p.m.
Dec. 9 at Pittsburgh Steelers 1 p.m.
Dec. 16 Carolina Panthers 4:05 p.m.
Dec. 23 at New York Jets * 8:20 p.m.
Dec. 30 Oakland Raiders 4:15 p.m.
Analysis: There was a time when the Chargers were considered the most talented team not just in the division, but in the NFL. Those times are gone. Age, free agency losses, and honestly, the hubris of AJ Smith has hurt the Chargers and the rest of the division has caught up to them the past couple years. Rivers was either hurt or doing drugs last season and refused to admit it. He had a very poor year. Were it not for some lucky (and uncharacteristic) early wins last season, the Chargers wouldnít have even been a factor late in the year. They still have one of the worst special teams units in the NFL, posting last or near last in every stat. One area they did manage to improve is a reduction in the number TD returns. Some of the free agent signings are not adequate replacements for what was on the team. Brown in lieu of Tolbert? Do they really believe Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem are suitable replacements for Vincent Jackson and Patrick Crayton? And who is rushing the passer? The Chargers have some talent on the left of their offensive line, but the right is a weakness. Despite the struggles of Rivers last year they managed to finish in the top ten in offense and scoring. Thereís been a lot of turnover the last few years, though.
Prediction 8-8: It is more likely that Rivers rebounds and plays better than that his poor performance last year was a sign of things to come. Their running game is suspect, and their receivers are new and watered down versions of what was their last year. Even so, Rivers can make it work and I think this will be a year he strings the rest of his team along. The poor special teams and average defense will make for things that even Rivers with good receivers wonít be able to overcome. The easier schedule on the front end means the Chargers might be able to avoid their chronically poor September, but I think on the back end they may have difficulty pulling the big wins out.
The Denver Broncos
Last Season: 8-8 Division Champions
Veteran Additions: QB Peyton Manning, QB Caleb Hanie, WR Andre Caldwell, WR Brandon Stokley, TE Jacob Tamme, TE Joel Dreessen, DT Justin Bannan, CB Tracy Porter, CB Drayton Florence, S Mike Adams.
Offseason Losses: QB Tim Tebow, QB Brady Quinn, FB Spencer Larsen, WR Eddie Royal, DE Derrick Harvey, DT Brodrick Bunkley, DT Marcus Thomas, DT Ryan McBean, OLB Mario Haggan, CB Andre Goodman, S Brian Dawkins.
Round 2: Derek Wolfe DT Cincinnati
Round 2: Brock Osweiler QB Arizona St.
Round 3: Ronnie Hillman RB San Diego St.
Round 4: Omar Bolden CB Arizona St.
Round 4: Phillip Blake C Baylor
Round 5: Malik Jackson DT Tennessee
Round 6: Danny Trevathan OLB Kentucky
Sept. 9 Pittsburgh Steelers 8:20 p.m.
Sept. 17 at Atlanta Falcons (Mon.) 8:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 Houston Texans 4:15 p.m.
Sept. 30 Oakland Raiders 4:05 p.m.
Oct. 7 at New England Patriots 4:15 p.m.
Oct. 15 at San Diego Chargers (Mon.) 8:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 BYE
Oct. 28 New Orleans Saints 8:20 p.m.
Nov. 4 at Cincinnati Bengals 1 p.m.
Nov. 11 at Carolina Panthers 1 p.m.
Nov. 18 San Diego Chargers 4:15 p.m.
Nov. 25 at Kansas City Chiefs 1 p.m.
Dec. 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4:05 p.m.
Dec. 6 at Oakland Raiders (Thurs.) 8:20 p.m.
Dec. 16 at Baltimore Ravens 1 p.m.
Dec. 23 Cleveland Browns 4:05 p.m.
Dec. 30 Kansas City Chiefs 4:15 p.m.
Analysis: Denver is one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL and Iím not just saying that as a fan. By the time the season begins, the Broncos will be starting their third QB in 8 months. In fact the only QB left over from last year is Adam Weber. Fortunately they were able to sign the biggest free agent since Reggie White in Peyton Manning, who hopes to play at least two or three more years. The rest of the additions have all been quite solid, particularly in the defensive back group. Denver also snagged two very solid pass-catching tight ends to go along with their young receiving corps in Tamme and Dreessen. The offense is facing a large re-tooling with Tebow gone as they move back to a more traditional offense. Itís going to be sink or swim for both Decker and Thomas. Thomas is athletically superior, but has shown signs of laziness and fragility. Decker is less athletic but more technical. Whether his work ethic and consistency will take another step remains to be seen. The offensive line will get Kuper back and hoping a more intelligent QB under center will help the offensive line perform better. The interior is a still a huge question, and itís said that rookie Phillip Blake is going to push to start as Peytonís center this season. Manningís effect on the team has been immediate. Heís held personal practices away from the facility and is riding players hard on the field to push for perfection. He also is a much better passer then the Broncos receivers were used to last year. Manning inherited the number one rushing attack and number 31 passing attack in the NFL last year. Tebow was the reason for both those numbers being as high and as low as they were, respectively. It is unlikely Denver will run as effectively without Tebow on the roster, even if Ronnie Hillman has a good rookie season. However it is also very likely that Manning throws the ball with a good deal more efficacy than Tebow did. Jack Del Rio is perhaps the most underrated signing in the NFL this year. Brought in to help coordinate the Defense following Dennis Allenís departure, Del Rio inherits a unit that finished in the twenties. There were some good moments for Denverís defense, often rising to the occasion in clutch situations, but there were some ugly ones as well. Getting lit up by the Partiots, Packers and Lions really dragged their numbers down. Ty Warren is coming back, but his durability and motivation are a huge question mark, and with Bunkley gone to the Saints and Marcus Thomas unsigned, it is curious to see if Denver really thinks rookie Derek Wolfe is going to help out in any measurable form right away. Special teams will be looking to replace and underwhelming Eddie Royal as a returner and that should allow one of the low draft picks or even undrafted players a shot at making the team. Elway locked up Matt Prater with a new contract, and Britton Colquitt has quietly become one of the best punters in the league. Denver quietly had one of the best special teams in the league last year with the exception of their coverage unit which was middle of the road.
Prediction 10-6: Much has been made of Denverís brutal schedule, some calling it the worst schedule in the last 15 years in the NFL. What no one is mentioning is the rest of the AFC West has to play the same schedule except for two games. With the rest of the AFC West facing effectively the same gauntlet of a schedule, it makes it more likely for a team in the AFC West to win. There will definitely be some growing pains as Manning and the rest of the Broncos develop their identity on offense. However Del Rio should continue to develop the progress made on defense, and his softer touch with players will allow some who became burned out on Dennis Allenís scream sessions to find their confidence again. I think Denver wins the division because they are the most balanced. Adding Manning is a huge coup as his leadership alone pushes everyone to do more. This team is younger and more balanced than the one Manning last started for and Manning has a chip on his shoulder. Denverís defense does need work, but they are trending in the right direction and can rush the passer. They also will be able to actually throw the ball which means fewer three and outs and that will make for a less tired team. The Broncos running game will be a priority under Fox and give Manning some time to grow into his new team. There is a tough road ahead, but I think by the end of the year Denver will be clicking and take the division.
San Diego 8-8
Kansas City 6-10
Kahn's is the superior!
Very nice write up. Thanks!
That guy thinks the Chiefs have two rookie OTs?
Starters = Albert, Lilja, Hudson, Asamoah, Winston. All vets.
The article also made fun of the Chiefs pass rush, which was actually quite good once Justin Houston got going in the 2nd half.
Chiefs had something like 20 sacks in the last 8 games.
Overall though, I agree with the point that Cassel sucks balls and we can't beat good teams.
With the rest of the AFC West facing effectively the same gauntlet of a schedule, it makes it more likely for a team in the AFC West to win.
Wtf does this mean? That a team from the AFC west will win the west?
Be sure to link to your crappy sources.
TJ and this site will get reamed if you don't acknowledge the incredibly poor authors that you cut and pasted from. You should know better than to quote a source that writes worse than the Bleacher Report.
San Diego 10-6
Kansas City 6-10
I just don't see the Chargers floating this year - their offensive line was **** and got worse, their defense is steadily falling apart, they lost their biggest offensive weapon in Jackson and we saw last year that Gates is not quite the player he used to be. Norv Turner is the concrete block strapped around this teams feet as they slowly but surely sink into the muddy waters.
There are more adjustments to the schedule than Gaylore realizes, like playing good teams at home while other division rivals play those good teams on the road.
overall a great synopsis of what should happen..
I do however place a higher value on schedule strength than you do.. and while everyone in the AFCW plays the teams, where they play them is a big factor..
I do think overall we have improved but I also remember that our schedule last years was the LAST place schedule and only eked out an 8-8 WL record..
this year we will be facing the creme de la creme of the league with 6 Play off teams. IIRC
Yes we may have a better WL than the others in the AFCW I hardly think it will be 12-4..
the team I fear the most is KC they have been sucking on teh top talent teat for a long time and for the most part have lacked in the coaching area.. I think Romeo will fix most of that..
the one thing that really jumped out at me was how far the talent level of the bolts seems to have fallen..
they had way more talent just a few years ago and they squashed us like a bug most of the times we played them..
I thought Kahn did a great job on a write up breaking down the AFC west in this unsolicited thread he took the time to create.
I could see your argument if this were a burger Bill article but if this was a Burger Bill article it would be his best article/breakdown EVER!
Stop complaining and start objective replies stating your takes.
Interesting to look at, thanks for the write up.
Pretty shocking to look at who the Raiders actually lost this season. There are a lot of good players in that list.
Also, San Diego did pretty damn well in free agency.
I don't know what to think of this division this year. I think the Chiefs will be better than a lot of us think, and it is so hard to predict the Broncos. I feel like I am almost too excited about the team they've built this season. Honestly if things click and the potential is realized, the Broncos will be a seriously good team. I optimistically say the floor is 10 wins and ceiling is probably about 12.
Pretty weird Atlanta plays AFC west first 3 weeks of the season
Chiefs stay healthy with a better schedule than the others can help. Romeo being head coach might not.
Good job Kaylore!
Round 3: Donald Stephenson OT Oklahoma
The Chiefs have two rookie OTs. He never said anything about them starting. The fact is that when you draft OTs in the 2nd and 3rd round and lose your center, there is going to be some transition on the offensive line.
He implies they will start.
Especially since he didn't even bring up Eric Winston, our new RT and major FA signing.
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