The AFC West might be the most up and rising division in football, especially with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders making big strides in free agency and the 2010 NFL Draft.
When you look back to a couple years ago LaDainian Tomlinson ruled the AFC West, and was arguably the best player in the AFC West this past decade. Well time has changed and Tomlinson is with the Jets and will likely not get the ball as much.
So it is defiantly a new era in the AFC West led by a new range of stars.
This is a list of the top 10 players in the AFC West to watch in 2010.
It was pretty shocking for Richard Seymour to find out he was traded to the Raiders. He was in awe and was in some ways disappointed in the Patriots for letting him go.
Seymour made a splash from the first game as a Raider by getting two sacks in Week One against the Chargers. With the Raiders running a different defense than the Patriots his numbers declined in 2009, but still managed to get 4.0 sacks. I think Seymour will have a better year in 2010, but he won't be like he was with the Patriots.
Seymour is still one of the top defensive linemen, if not the best, in the AFC West.
Ryan Clady was one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL in his rookie season, but he struggled in 2009. Clady gave up eight sacks in 2009, which is down right horrible compared to his 2008 season.
Still, Clady is one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL and the division. The big question is if Ryan Clady will return to form?
After sustaining a serious knee injury while playing basketball, Clady still doesn't know if he will be able to start by Week One. I still think Clady will be a Pro Bowler in 2010 despite all the controversy.
Besides Elvis Dumervil, Tamba Hali is the best pass rusher in the AFC West. Hali finished second in the AFC West with 8.5 sacks, which is pretty good for his first season as a linebacker. Hali had 3.0 sacks at defensive end in 2008 and no one thought he could switch to linebacker and make an impact. He did and had a career season.
Look for Tamba Hali to have a better season in 2010 and a few more sacks also.
Vincent Jackson is by far the best receiver in the AFC West on a team recently known for passing the ball well.
Jackson was the only Pro Bowl receiver returning to the AFC West now that Brandon Marshall has left.
Jackson is huge, standing 6'5", and it is truly amazing to watch someone even try to cover him. Jackson finally had a breakout season in 2009—look for him to get the ball even more in 2010.
I think Jackson will defiantly be a Pro Bowler in 2010 and have well over 1,000 yards and eight to 12 touchdown catches.
The Chiefs now have the best secondary in the AFC West with rookie Eric Berry and third year cornerback Brandon Carr, both led by Brandon Flowers.
Flowers had five interceptions in 2009—a great mark for a player of his age.
And watch out because Flowers says he expects 10 interceptions out of himself in 2010. Expect him to make a huge push to make the Pro Bowl this coming season.
Elvis Dumervil was the best pass rusher in the NFL in 2010 and is the best pass rusher in the AFC West and the best overall linebacker in the AFC West.
Dumervil had a NFL leading 17.0 sacks in 2009, but I do not predict him to lead the league again. I still expect Dumervil to have a great year. I think he can notch anywhere between nine to 15 sacks in the 2010 season.
Look for Dumervil to be in a tight race with Tamba Hali to lead the division in sacks and also look for Dumervil to make another push for the Pro Bowl.
After Larry Johnson was released in Week Eight of the 2009 season, Jamaal Charles rushed for over 1,000 yards in just eight games.
Charles is by far the best running back in the AFC West and is primed for a break-out season. Charles was ranked No. 3 overall on NFL.com's "Top 20 Players To Have Breakout Seasons."
Charles is also the fastest player in the division, breaking out many big gainers against AFC West opponents like Denver and Oakland. Expect Charles to be one of the top running backs in the NFL in 2010.
Antonio Gates is definitely in his prime and ready for more after having a career season in 2009.
Now that Tony Gonzalez is absent from the AFC West, Antonio Gates is the best tight end in the division and the NFL. Gates will likely have another great season in 2010.
I think he might even reach the 80 catch mark in 2010, which is a milestone for a tight end. Expect Gates to lead all tight ends in catches, yards, and touchdowns in the division and NFL. Gates will also likely be an All-Pro this year.
In my opinion Nnamdi Asomugha is the best lock-down corner in the NFL, despite only having one interception in 2009.
NFL teams know that it is a bad idea to pass against Asomugha. He is the best defensive player in the AFC West and is also becoming one of the best defensive players in Raiders' history.
Look for Asomugha to not have big numbers in 2010 and that's a good thing because that means no one will pass to their number one receivers. Also look for Asomugha to be a Pro Bowler in 2010.
Without a doubt Philip Rivers is among the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Rivers has changed the identity of the Chargers, from a team led by LaDainian Tomlinson on the ground to an aerial attack led by Rivers. Look for the Chargers to make a huge playoff push and for Rivers' name in the MVP voting polls and likely in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.