The AFC West over the past year has taken a backseat to stronger divisions in the AFC. Obviously this was the worst year for the AFC West in years, not one team in this division finished the regular season with a record over .500. The Best record was held by the Chargers and the Broncos at a mediocre 8-8. This is not what the AFC West is use to . I remember two seasons ago when the Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers all had winning records and only the Raiders had a losing record of 2-14.
Coming into this year, all teams but the Chargers have changed significantly. The Broncos have gone through an entire face-lift to change the team. From new coaches, to trading away the best player, to revolving the team around a new QB. The Broncos have gone through not only the most change in the AFC West, but they have made some of the most dramatic changes in the entire NFL.
First I want to start with the team that will win the division again this year.
The San Diego Chargers, as a Denver fan i have much respect for this team, not only for the players that they draft but for how they finish a season. This team from game one of the season was playing catch up to the Broncos. The Chargers were losing games they were suppose to win, and they were not playing as a team. Their defense was abysmal and they could not seem to stop anyone from passing the ball on them. This team was playing at .500 or below the whole season, but oddly the games that they won they seemed to blow opponents out of the water, except for the Chiefs game. The San Diego Chargers ended up winning the division even when the Broncos had it in the bag. They ended up winning their wild card bout against the Indianapolis Colts but they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers the next week ending their season. Now the off-season begins, the Chargers really did not have much work to do in the off-season getting players. They really did not sign any big names in free agency.There most notable draft pick was Larry English, a DE out of Northern Illinois. This pick will help them make that D-line that much better. He will be the starter on the line for years to come.
With the toughness of this years schedule i see the Chargers finishing 11-5 and i see Phillip Rivers being the offensive player of the year, if not the MVP
Next the Denver Broncos. The Broncos started off the first 5 games looking like a Superbowl team. They were playing consistent on offense, scoring touchdowns,winning games with huge scores. Then out of nowhere this team hit a wall and never gained their composure again. It all started with that loss to Jacksonville. Denver had pretty much let themselves lose that game by making dumb mistakes and not capitalizing on Jacksonville's mistakes. After that the Broncos season went up and down as the would get big wins, but embarrassing losses.
At the end of the season the Broncos had blown all their opportunities to make it to the playoffs. They had lost to Buffalo making the game against San Diego a must win. They ended up losing 52-21 and giving up over 300 yards rushing. This was the beginning of much needed change in Denver. First Mike Shanahan was let go, then Josh McDaniel's came in and shook everything up, he brought in his own staff, some of his players. He even got rid of Jay Cutler because of disagreements. Overall this team was going through a huge face-lift.
During Denver's off-season they signed many players, some noticeable ones include, Renaldo Hill of the Dolphins, Andre Goodman of the Dolphins, Jabar Gaffney of the Patriots, LaMont Jordan of the Raiders, Correll Buckhalter of the Eagles, and my personal favorite Brian Dawkins. I believe that with Brian Dawkins this teams secondary will see a much needed improvement in tackling and play making.
My personal favorite time of Denver's off-season had to be the 2009 Draft, they got the best running back in Knowshon Moreno, the best cover corner in Alphonso Smith, one of the best Defensive players in Robert Ayers, the best blocking tight end in Richard Quinn and they beefed up on the secondary by adding David Bruton, and Darcel McBath.
With all this change it is very hard for people seeing this team even get more than 7 wins. Those people must not watch much football, because unlike other sports the NFL is unpredictable and has many upsets and surprises. Just look at the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens. I'm not saying that Denver will be as good but I'm saying that this team will be better than last year even without Jay Cutler.
The Broncos already have a monster offense, with Ryan Clady, Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Tony Scheffler, Ryan Harris, and the list continues.
I see the Broncos finishing 9-7 in the AFC West with a possible wild card.
The Chiefs have the same deal as the Broncos, lots of change, but the change will make this team much better in the future. This team will be scary in 2-3years when they have developed their players. This is a future playoff team with Cassell under center, people will just have to be patient for the next 2-3 years
I see the Chiefs finishing 8-8
As for the Raiders, I'm not impressed with what they have done during free agency or during the draft. It seems as if the Raiders just draft guys based on speed and how good they do in the combine......That has obviously not taken them far. I do have a couple positives to say about the Raiders though. I love the running game, i want to see what JaMarcus Russell can do, and they have the best cover corner in Nnamdi Asomugha.
I see the Raiders finishing 7-9