AFC West: Who Will Win the Worst Division in Football?

Eric GomezAnalyst INovember 4, 2008

Try and think of the last time an AFC West team won a game.


That's probably because it was three Sundays ago.

The Oakland Raiders surprisingly defeated the New York Jets by three points on the strength of a Sebastian Janikowski field goal in overtime.

Since then, AFC West teams are 0-4, with a couple of byes mercifully thrown in for good measure.

As AFC-West-leading Denver is sitting at a lofty 4-4, the division is wide open. Even with the 1-7 Kansas City Chiefs having a decent mathematical possibility to make it to the playoffs.

With the stretch run—the so-called eight-game season—upon us, who has the best shot?

Here are the best arguments for all four teams involved.


1. Denver Broncos (4-4)

The Good News

—Denver's success has hinged mainly on what its offense can do. Assuming QB Jay Cutler's last two games were only hiccups in the development of a competent starter, Denver should put enough points on the board to compete in each game.

—Opposing teams' on the Broncos remaining schedule only carry a 30-34 record.

—The Broncos have two home games against division rivals Oakland and Kansas City.

—Every time you have Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal catching passes, you have a chance to put some serious pressure on defenses.


The Bad News

—The Broncos go on the road to face the 6-2 Panthers and 5-3 Falcons.

—Denver only has three home games remaining.

—They're ranked 28th, 29th, 27th and 26th in points allowed, total yards allowed, pass yards allowed and rushing yards allowed, respectively.

Projected Finish with Predictions

8-8 (Wins: CLE, KC, OAK, BUF. Losses: ATL, NYJ, CAR, SD)


2. San Diego Chargers (3-5)

The Good News

LaDainian Tomlinson showed flashes of his old self in the team's last game against New Orleans. With the bye week, a rested, healthier L.T. will mean a bigger running game.

—The Chargers have five home games remaining.

—Their change of defensive playcallers (Ron Rivera is the new coordinator) can only mean they get better on that side of the ball.

—The Bolts put up 28 points per game. That's good for third in the league.


The Bad News

—Games against Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay still remain. Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay are on the road.

—New coordinator or not, the team's inside linebacking corps are lacking in quality. Stephen Cooper is solid in one spot, but Matt Wilhelm, Tim Dobbins, and Derek Smith have not gotten the job done in the other. Is a switch to a 4-3 on the horizon?

—How injured are guys like Antonio Gates, Jyles Tucker, and Antonio Cromartie?

Projected Finish with Predictions

9-7 (Wins: KC (2), IND, OAK, DEN. Losses: PIT, ATL)

3. Oakland Raiders

The Good News

—Among the four teams in the division, their rushing game is by far the strongest.

—Home games against Kansas City and Houston can become wins.

—The team can put the Kiffin saga behind it and focus on football the rest of the way.


The Bad News

—Half of their games are against teams at or over .500.

—How long until JaMarcus Russell plays like a No. 1 pick? The Raiders are 31st in the passing game.

—Al Davis replaced a young coach whom he felt had little experience...with Tom Cable?

—If they win too many games (two or three at this point), they won't make the playoffs and it'll take them out of the race for the No. 1 pick.

Projected Finish with Predictions

4-12 (Wins: KC, HOU. Losses: SD, DEN, CAR, MIA, NE, TB)


4. Kansas City Chiefs

The Good News

—They should contend for the No. 1 pick in next year's draft.

—Their last two games have been close, and their offense has shown signs of life.

—A game against Cincinnati to close out the season should add to the win column.

—They have a core of good young players that should develop in the near-future.


The Bad News

—A Herman Edwards led team, in the bottom 10 for total defense? Unreal.

—Discipline is important, but can you really afford to sit Larry Johnson right now?

—29th in points for offense and defense will usually mean a bunch of losses. It doesn't look like it'll get better.

—Games against New Orleans, Miami, San Diego, and Buffalo will be hard to watch for fans.

Projected Finish with Predictions

3-13 (Win: CIN. Losses: SD (2), OAK, DEN, MIA, NO, BUF)