2009 AFC West Preview

Michael SweeneyContributor IMay 14, 2009

I think it's reasonable to say that most people have a pretty good idea who is going to win the AFC West in 2009.

And I'm not talking about those fans who are completely devoted to their team and endure "unreasonable biases" when referring to their beloved team.

The San Diego Chargers are the definite favorites to come out of the AFC West. Last year; however, the Chargers stumbled into a hole and had to pull off a miraculous last few weeks in order to qualify for the playoffs.

The Denver Broncos led the division the entire season until Week 17, when the Chargers destroyed the Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium, 52-21.

This should not be the case in 2009.

The Broncos lost their franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler, with hopes of replacing him with either Kyle Orton or Chris Simms. Unfortunately for the Broncos, Orton and Simms do not seem like effective "offensive orchestrators" who can make a serious and immediate impact for the Broncos.

Both have definite weaknesses, and with a new head coach in Josh McDaniels and many free agent signees that are unfamiliar with the team, the Broncos are bound to struggle in 2009.

Many consider the Kansas City Chiefs a force to be reckoned with in 2009. With a few prominent free agent signings, the Chiefs are looking to contend for the AFC West title.

Recent signees in quarterback Matt Cassel and wide receiver Bobby Engram make a more fearsome passing attack that features depth at all angles. New head coach Todd Haley will look to spread out the offense and expose many different formations and schemes in order to confuse defenses.

Look for similarities to last year's Arizona Cardinals offensive patterns with Haley as the coach. With the emergence of talented wideout in Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs will likely run a vertical offense that targets its stars.

The Oakland Raiders are looking to improve from last year's 5-11 mark. Jamarcus Russell and Darren McFadden will have to have more productive seasons in order for the Raiders to have any kind of shot at a division title.

The recent signing of fullback Lorenzo Neal could benefit the Raiders' running game, which is arguably the strongest point of their team.

Realistically speaking, the AFC West is a weak division.

However, that does not mean that a Super Bowl contender cannot come out of the West in 2009. The San Diego Chargers have shown that they can compete with the class of the AFC, even in an off year.

Just take last year for example. 

The Chargers beat the Indianapolis Colts in an epic first round battle at Qualcomm Stadium. They then went on to lose to the Super Bowl XLII champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Nevertheless, the Chargers showed that they are for real and can compete with the tough teams of the league.  

The Chargers have a very reasonable shot at winning the division in 2009. With many of the division's best players ranging from Ladainian Tomlinson to Philip Rivers to Shawne Merriman, the Chargers are and should be considered the favorites to take the AFC West by storm.

Anything short of a playoff appearance and a few playoff wins to show for it, the Chargers would have a disappointing season. Their playoff chances, by and large, are attributable to their weak division.

The Chiefs, Broncos, and the Raiders are up and coming franchises whom do not really have a legitimate shot at obtaining a playoff seed in 2009.

Head coach Norv Turner will have his team ready for the 2009 season, and the Chargers should dominate the AFC West once again.

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