clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Second Place in the AFC West is up for Grabs

I don't think I'm breaking any new ground by assuming the Chargers are going to win the AFC West. Of course, anything can happen, but most of the pundits are choosing the Chargers to win the west and I think most of the other teams are admitting that that Chargers are at least the favorite in the division. The Chargers have arguably the most talent in the division, they definitely had the most stability in terms of players and coaches over the off-season, and they have recent success on their side, with 3 consecutive divisional championships.

After the jump, we've got a look at each team, what they did last year and what the outlook is for this year. And, of course, we've got a poll to make this all official...

Chefs_medium Cable_medium Broncos_medium

Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)

Offensive Rank Defensive Rank
Overall Passing Rushing Overall Passing Rushing
24 20 16 31 28 30

I'm going to go ahead and say the Chiefs were the best 2 win team in the NFL last year. With a little better luck, they easily could have had 3-4 more wins. Two of their losses came against the Chargers and both of them probably should have gone the other way, one of those was that ridiculous game where we needed Herm Edwards to call a timeout for us and then needed to recover an onside kick to win. Both happened. Well, we don't have Herm Edwards to kick around anymore. But we also don't have Tony Gonzalez to beat us like a rented mule twice a year anymore either since he moved on to the Falcons.

Aside from Gonzalez, the other major personnel move was adding QB Matt Cassel and giving him a big contract. Otherwise, the personnel are pretty much the same. Defensively, they added Tyson Jackson through the draft and are in the process of switching to a 3-4 defense.

Scott Pioli came over from the Patriots as GM and Todd Haley came over from the Cardinals as head coach. Before as the preseason ended, Haley decided he didn't like the direction of the offense and fired OC Chan Gailey.

Sounds a little chaotic, and it was. But compared to the other two teams this was pretty smooth sailing. Last year I felt that this team was not that far away from being dangerous. Not that they were going to win the division, but that they were close to being able to beat anyone on any given Sunday. They had some holes, and some poor game management from their coach, but they were definitely not a 2 win team. With the changes in the front office and the coaching staff I'm not quite sure what to think. I don't think they addressed many of their personnel needs and it remains to be seen how much of an upgrade Haley is over Edwards. Whatever benefit Pioli might bring won't be felt for another year or so. I think they are in the 4-6 win range this year.

Denver Broncos (8-8)

Offensive Rank Defensive Rank
Overall Passing Rushing Overall Passing Rushing
2 3 12 29 26 27

Where to start??? Last year, the Broncos ended up with the same record as the Chargers. However, they were definitely going in a drastically different direction. While the Chargers were winning their way into the playoffs, the Broncos were choking their way out. All while being coached by uber-genius Mike Shanahan and lead by the best QB on the planet Jay Cutler. Well, a funny thing happened in the off-season. Shanahan was fired in a move that surprised almost everyone. Boy genius Josh McDaniel was brought in from the Patriots and essentially given full control over the franchise. They have a GM, but McDaniel is the face of the franchise and seems to have the final say. One of the things he tried to do is trade for Cassel. Cutler caught wind of this and the soap opera cranked up. Cutler eventually whined his way out of town and on to the Bears for a slew of high draft picks and Kyle Orton, who is now their QB. Meanwhile, Brandon Marshall went to school on Cutler and decided he wanted out of town if he couldn't get his contract re-written. He assumed that having an all-pro level year on the field and getting all his domestic battery chargers dropped off the field would earn him a new contract. When that didn't work, he went the diva route and refused to catch balls in practice. McDaniel came down hard and suspended him for the ENTIRE preseason. Tough Love. There was a rumor that the Broncos had recently offered Marshall a long term extension. Way to toe the line guys, I'm sure it won't come back to haunt you again...

So, chaos rules here as well. The offense is definitely weaker with Cutler gone. The rushing attack should be better with Knowshown Moreno and a healthy slew of RBs. Defensively, they are probably going to improve, they have improved in some areas and are also trying to move to the 3-4 defense. They added Mike Nolan as the defensive coordinator which should help as well. Despite the chaos and the serious downgrade at QB, I think they are still an 8 win team, especially if they can get another season like 2008 out of Marshall, have Royal continue to progress, and Moreno have a solid year rushing the ball.

Oakland Raiders (5-11)

Offensive Rank Defensive Rank
Overall Passing Rushing Overall Passing Rushing
29 32 10 29 10 31

The Raiders had some trouble last year, and this year isn't looking a whole lot better. Theoretically, they should have a more stable coaching situation. This is true for two reasons: 1) Al Davis has not decided to fire the coach before the season start, without actually firing the coach, and 2) the coaches should all be working together this year since any coach who crosses Cable can expect consequences and repercussions. Despite the dysfunction in the coaching staff and ownership, I think Cable is good for this team. They need a no nonsense fiery former offensive lineman as their coach. I think he will whip these guys into shape eventually. Will it be enough to win more than 5 games? I'm not sure.

Much like the other two teams, I think Oakland is dangerous. Mainly because they have some talent and a bunch of unknowns. Is Cable the guy for this team? Will JaMarcus Russell find his LSU mojo in his third year and become a QB worthy of the #1 pick? Can Hayward-Bey be the rare impact rookie WR? What the heck is up with Richard Seymour? Lots of questions.

So what do you guys think? Who is getting the silver medal? Any chance they squeeze into the playoffs?