What's Next for the AFC West

Brendon TateCorrespondent IFebruary 16, 2009

In this era of football, the divisions in the NFL should be fierce, and very competitive to the end. You should see talent and competitiveness week in and week out. Well, not if your in the AFC West.

For years now, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders have not accomplished much. Nothing against the two organizations, but nothing good has been going on with either of them.

The Raiders have not been good since Super Bowl 37. This was an infamous day in Raiders; history, as Rich Gannon's five interceptions set an NFL record for most in a Super Bowl game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went on to win 48-21.

The Chiefs recently made the playoffs in 2006 on a Denver choke against the 49ers. The Chiefs were one-and-done though. For the past two seasons, the Chiefs have just won a combined six games.

The Broncos have been in the playoff hunt every year, at least at the beginning of the season, when they win lots of games. But the Broncos have not finished a season well since the 2005 season. That was three seasons ago, where they were one game away from the Super Bowl.

The Broncos do have a franchise offense and the most sturdy in the AFC West for years to come.

The Chargers, on the other hand, have had the opposite problem as the Broncos. They started off seasons badly and always had people questioning how good their team was. Then, they have gone on huge runs at the end of the year and completely dominate.

The only problem is they have a Super Bowl-ready team right now, but they never can reach the big game. With that offensive line aging, the Chargers will need to hurry. Because with the young talent on the Broncos, it will only be a matter of a couple of seasons before the Broncos dethrone the Chargers.

For an in depth analysis, keep reading below. If you want to go straight to predicitions skip next section:

The Kansas City Chiefs are a very young and talented team and have all the keys to a great organization. A good receiving corp, a Hall of Fame tight end in Tony Gonzalez, an up and coming QB in Tyler Thigpen, and a stable O-line.

The one problem they do have is on defense. Over the past two seasons, they have been towards the bottom in many defensive categories, and they need to work on the defensive side of the ball. They also need to obtain some quality young O-lineman in the draft.

The Chiefs have acquired a new coach and that is very good. The best thing for a young team still learning is a new coach with new ideas. With the new coach, they will no doubt be a better team in 09.

The Oakland Raiders are also a team with many young players who have potential. The Raiders' problems come with having multiple coaches over the past few years, and their inability to create a franchise QB. It's just like a QB carousel in Oakland.

But they think they found a staple in JaMarcus Russell. He has the biggest arm in the NFL, and he is a big man who will be hard to bring down. The only problem with him is his fundamentals. He has to work on putting touch on the ball and becoming more accurate. He just wants to use his rocket arm for every throw, and that's not going to work.

Darren McFadden will be a great RB for years to come. The Raiders only concern on offense, in terms of player personnel, is at the receiver spot. Since Javon Walker did not get the job done, the Raiders better get a receiver in the first or second round of the draft if they want a piece to compliment Russell.

The Raiders have a very good secondary, as long as they keep Nnamdi Asomugha around.

The Denver Broncos are one of those teams who surprises people every year, either for losing games they should win, or winning games they should lose. The Broncos started off the year 4-1 and looked to cruise to the playoffs with San Diego faltering.

The only problem was the defense would not allow the Broncos to do much. Jay Cutler and the Denver offense did fine by me, but the defense looked so bad. It would be hard for them to contain a college team. The Denver D was being carried by the offense.

But it could not be carried for too long. For an offense to work effectively week-in and week-out, the defense must contain a team so that the offense does not get pressured into thinking they have to score on every drive.

The Denver D could not stop anything, which led to Denver's offense having to play more aggressively. Playing more aggressively ultimately led to Jay Cutler's 18 interceptions.

Another problem was the inconsistency at running back. When you have seven different running backs go on IR, it's very scary.

The only good thing about the injuries is that Denver discovered Peyton Hillis, who is a beast. Peyton Hillis will either start at running back, next season, or at least get many carries. If it was not for his injury, Denver would have made the playoffs.

One position on offense the Broncos may consider in the draft is center, because I do not know how long Casey Wiegman is going to last. Even though he was one of the best centers in '08, he is peaking at age 33.

Also, the Broncos may look to pick up a running back in the first or second round. That position has been haunting them for a while.

When it comes to defense, to put it short and sweet, the Broncos need at least six new starters. They will be the most changed defense in terms of personnel changes. The only guaranteed positions I seem are Champ Bailey at LCB, D.J. Williams at MLB if a 3-4 change is coming, Josh Barrett at safety, and Elvis Dumervil at either OLB or DE.

The San Diego Chargers are one of those teams who are very inconsistent, but not really in a bad way. They always tend to start the season off slow and let the AFC opponents get ahead. Then they suddenly snatch it from underneath them.

The Chargers will continue to make the playoffs every year for a while, but that is not a concern for them right now. Their concern in winning a Super Bowl ring, as their organization is one of a few that has not won a ring yet.

When it comes to talent, the Chargers cannot be denied. They have a franchise QB in Phillip Rivers, a great running game with LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, an amazing TE in Antonio Gates,  and great, but aging, O-Line. Also, their wide receiver's have stepped up recently.

The Defense is great at stopping the run, but was one of the worst at giving up big passing plays. They have all the talent on defense and their new defensive coordinator will most likely get the Pass D fixed up.

The Chargers may need to look for offensive linemen in the draft, as well as a RB, DB, and safety. Even though they are not major concerns.

As for my prediction of the AFC West records:

Chargers take first place at 12-4. Look for Philip Rivers to have another great year. Not as good as last year, but great. Also look for Darren Sproles to have monster year.

Broncos take second place at 10-6 and do better things under a new coach. Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall will become the new Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne. Also look for whoever the starting running back is to have a big year, because with Mike Shanahan gone, the Broncos wont be using a ridiculous amount of RB's.

Raiders take third place and finish 7-9. Look for times of inconsistency as they still have to find an identity with the young talent. I see Darren McFadden having a monster year, and I see JaMarcus getting better.

Chiefs take last and finish 6-10. I think that they are still, no doubt, in the rebuilding stage and they need a good solid coach to teach them the ways of winning. I see Tyler Thigpen(if he remains starter) having another great year. I also see Dwayne Bowe having a 1,000+ receiving year.

That's my prediction. I hope you like it. Leave me feedback and your predictions. Also, if you have any criticism, make it constructive and not just hate messages about how one team sucks.


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