AFC West: Which Team Will Fall in to The Playoffs?

Samantha CookeCorrespondent ISeptember 5, 2009

ATLANTA - AUGUST 29:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers drops back to pass during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on August 29, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Falcons beat the Chargers 27-24.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

The AFC West is probably the worst division in the NFL.  As of last year, they had two tough teams to watch out for.

This year, however, the winner may be .500 or less when they win the division.  This could be one of the worst playoff teams in history.

So, which team will take it home?  Here are the predictions.

4. Oakland Raiders: The best chance the Raiders have of improving is to fire their GM/Owner.  JaMarcus Russell will be more comfortable in the pocket this year.  He has some receivers to throw too, but they are young. 

The Raiders drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey.  He has lightning speed and good moves, but how will he hold up in the NFL?

The backfield does not have big names, but has a couple decent guys in Justin Fargus and Darren McFadden.

The defense did little to improve this year.  They finished 27th in overall defense last year and may end up in the same position.

They are led by their defensive line.  They have Trevor Scott, Tommy Kelly, Gerard Warren, and Greg Ellis.  They also re-signed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.  He helps the pass defense, but cannot do it himself.

As for their schedule, the Raiders head to Houston, the New York Giants, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland.  They host Philadelphia, the New York Jets, Cincinnati, Washington, and Baltimore.

3. Denver Broncos: Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  Trading Kyle Orton for Jay Cutler is one of the worst moves the Broncos could have made.  While Orton does not suck, he is no Cutler.

Look for the Broncos to have no where near the offense production they had last year.  Even with decent receivers, Orton just does not have the stuff to bring the team to the playoffs.

The Broncos signed Correll Buckhalter and Lamont Jordan to boost the backfield.  This may help take some pressure off Orton until he gets comfortable.  It will be too little, too late.

As for the defense, they are led by their secondary.  With veterans Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey, they have the ability to stop offenses.

Unfortunately, their offense will still have to score some points in order to win the game.

As for their schedule, the Broncos host Cleveland, Dallas, New England, Pittsburgh, and the New York Giants.  With four of those teams as picks to make the playoffs, look for the Broncos to lose some at home.

The Broncos will travel to Cincinnati, Baltimore, Washington, Indianapolis and Philadelphia.  Most of these teams are looking for the playoffs, so the Broncos will not have any amazing road wins.

2. Kansas City Chiefs: The pick-up of Matt Cassel was a great move for the Chiefs this offseason.  Hopefully, his knee will heal with plenty of time left in the season.  If he misses two games or less, the Chiefs will have a better chance of challenging for the AFC West title.

Cassel will throw to Terrance Cooper, Mark Bradley, Dwayne Bowe, and Bobby Engram.  With the support of Larry Johnson in the backfield, look for this offense to improve a lot from their 24th ranking last year.

On defense, the Chiefs picked up Mike Vrabel at linebacker.  He will help Corey Mays, Tamba Hali, and DeMorrioWilliams.  This defense ranked 31st last year, but should improve with the linebacking core.

Now for their schedule.  The Chiefs go on the road to Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati.  They will host the New York Giants, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Cleveland.

1. San Diego Chargers: Retaining Phillip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Darren Sproles kept this team intact.  They will roll through this division.  As for the rest of the NFL, we will see. 

Rivers has great receivers to throw to.  Joining Darren Sproles out of the backfield are wide receivers Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson. 

Sproleswill be a great team player as a running back receiver and back up for Tomlinson.  Tomlinson will get lots of rest with Sproles coming in on several offensive schemes.

The defense has not vastly improved from last year, when they ranked 25th.  Their secondary should improve as they were 31st last year.

With Quentin Jammer, Antonio Cromartie, Clinton Hart, and Eric Weddle, the secondary has experience to help them improve. 

The Chargers travel to Pittsburgh, the New York Giants, Cleveland, Dallas, and Tennessee.  That is a slightly easier road than their AFC West-mates. 

The Chargers will also host Baltimore, Miami, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Washington.  With Washington and Cincinnati having possible off-years, this will help the Chargers.  Also being at home should help the Chargers against tougher opponents.