AFC West Preview
Denver Broncos (1)
It is as clear as a crow in a field of snow that the Denver Broncos are going to win the AFC West. The other three teams in the division will be battling this perception all season, while the Broncos will be busy keeping their vision on the Super Bowl. The Broncos are an apparent Super Bowl contender this year, and my choice to win it all.
Peyton Manning will lead the Broncos 2013 campaign with a slew of weapons. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker at the No. 3 receiver will create nightmares for any opposing defensive coordinator. Montee Ball gives them the versatility at RB they need, yet also carries the power to run in between the tackles. The defensive side of the ball lost DE Elvis Dumervil but still remains a top-tier unit filled with Lamar Miller and future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey. I look forward to opening week when the Broncos face the defending champion Ravens, a game that should hold significance in determining home-field advantage during the playoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs (2)
Kansas City has turned the page on their head coach once again, deciding to part ways with yet another unsuccessful Chiefs regime from Romeo Crennel. After a miserable 2-14 season, Kansas City had reason to be excited after making the biggest free agent move, signing former Eagles coach Andy Reid. Newly established Head Coach Reid went to work rebuilding this franchise early when he traded for QB Alex Smith and released the forgettable Matt Cassel. Reid has begun to limit the amount of holes that riddled this team last year, yet a new offensive scheme, second-tier secondary and o-line lacking in chemistry makes for a tall order.
In the NFL a quick turnaround is incredibly rare. To go from tied for the worst team in the league to second in the division is almost unheard of. Luckily for the Chiefs they compete in the feeble AFC West. I expect another year of growing pains for the Chiefs but I also expect a lot of growth. Look for them to be knocking on the door of the playoffs this next season.
San Diego Chargers (3)
San Diego’s days of dominating the AFC West slipped right from under the Bolts before they could even make a splash of it. I remember five years ago or so the Chargers were picked as the frontrunners to win the Super Bowl. Now all the Bolts have to compete over is whether they’ll be last in the division or second to last.
The good news for the Chargers is Owner Alex Spanos knew the organization needed a “culture change” and they accomplished that with a couple of key moves. First they fired Norv Turner (overdue); second they hired former Arizona offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and lastly they figure out a way to capture Chargers fans attention by drafting Manti Te’o. The Chargers attendance and the general buzz about the franchise had sagged, due to a skid of three straight seasons missing the playoffs. That’s why Manti Te’o was a good draft pick; he’s the most interesting player on the Chargers. Nonetheless, the season looks bleak for Bolts fans, as they should brace themselves with the highly likely possibility of missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Oakland Raiders (4)
Oakland Raiders have been so terribly mismanaged over the last five years that their roster was stuffed with over-paid players and overrated players. General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Dennis Allen have almost cleared out these “dead weight contracts” and will be looking forward to having some spending money in upcoming years. However, this next year I’m afraid the Raiders will be looking at another 4-12 finish.
The Raiders have missed the playoffs for 10 straight seasons, giving their fans almost nothing to cheer about. Unfortunately for Oakland it looks like this year will be all the more the same. The only good news Oakland can take away, is that it doesn’t appear they could get any worse.