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A Quick Look at the AFC West

I saw a fanpost by jman on the what the AFC West looks like at the quarter pole.  Since we are 4 games into the season, it is probably a good time to look at how things are stacking up.  jman's analysis was his view of how each team is doing.  I thought I would take it from a different angle and get some more "objective" views on how things are going.  Once we go through that, I'll give you some thoughts on how things might shake out.

wins losses points
team overall
DVOA rank
team offense
DVOA rank
team defense
DVOA rank
Denver Broncos 4 0 79 26 7 11 3
San Diego Chargers 2 2 101 102 23 15 30
Oakland Raiders 1 3 42 86 29 32 14
Kansas City Chiefs 0 4 64 112 26 26 25

All right, so first, let's explain quickly some of the numbers, specifically the DVOA numbers.  You can click on the headings to see the complete rankings and get details on exactly how they are generated.  In summary, the DVOA stands for Defense Adjusted Value Over Average.  That is, how much better is this team than the average NFL team if we adjust for who they are playing.  Theoretically, this should normalize for an offense that gets to play a really bad defense vs. an offense that plays a really good defense.  Now, there is some controversy on how accurately the DVOA numbers represent reality, but they are as good as anything else out there.  In addition, since the season is still fairly young, they don't really have the sample size they need to generate really accurate numbers.

After the last game against Pittsburg, none of us are surprised that our defense should rank #30 out of 32 teams.  Sounds about right.  I think what is a little surprising is that our offense is ranked middle of the pack.  We are #9 in points scored, but #15 overall.  A good part of this has to do with how the offense is really good in spurts, but then stinks it up.  Or more accurate, how our offense sucks the first half, is mediocre the third quarter and then becomes the '94 49ers in the 4th quarter.

Everyone has probably noticed this, but how about the Denver defense?  26 points given up over 4 games?  6.5 points per game average?  Now, they have played some bad teams, but they also have played the Cowboys with a decent offense, and the surprisingly good Bengals.  This area that was a major weakness and a big reason behind the Bronco collapse last year is surprising good, and may even be a strength of this team.  We will get an up close view of this in a few weeks and will be able to tell for ourselves if they are as good as they seem to be at this time.

One of my good friends is a Raider fan and we used to go pretty crazy during Raider week.  He is a snapshot of the Raider team.  The loss to the Bucs in the SB earlier this decade ripped his heart out and he has been in descent ever since.  He barely even wants to talk about his team any more.  Looking at them, I think that if they had a decent QB, they could be competitive.  JaMarcus Russell has a completion percentage of under 40%.  That is ridiculous.  They have a good crew of RBs and a good enough OL, there is no reason why their offense should be ranked #32.  It''s too bad.  Keep this between us, but I secretly wish the Raiders were good and Raider week meant something again.

The Chiefs are still a conundrum to me.  They definitely were not as bad as their record was last year.  They definitely aren't as bad as their record is this year.  But at some point you have to say, as AJ likes to say, "You are what your record says your are."  I'm still worried about this team and I feel they could beat just about any team on any given Sunday.  They have the offensive weapons.  They have some holes on the OL, and their defense is a little weak, but they have just been completely run over so far this year.  Is Haley in over his head? Perhaps.  Did Belichek not let Pioli take the magic beans with him when he left NE?  Probably.  The jury is still out, they may still be in recovery mode from ditching their offensive coordinator right after the last preseason game.  Offensively they have some weapons and should be serviceable.  Defensively, they have a lot of young talent.  Like I said, this is a scary team in that they might only win 4 or 5 games, but those 4 or 5 wins might be against playoff teams.