Monday, September 6, 2010

AFC West Preview

1st Place, San Diego Chargers

Offensive Players:
QB Phillip Rivers
RB Ryan Mathews (R)
WR Malcom Floyd
TE Antonio Gates
C Nick Hardwick

Defensive Players:
DE Luis Castillo
LB Shaun Phillips
LB Shawne Merriman
CB Quentin Jammer
CB Antoine Cason

The Chargers lost a few big pieces of their offense this spring when Ladanian Tomlinson left for the Jets and Vincent Jackson decided to virtually quit the Chargers. They're hoping Ryan Matthews picks up the slack left by LT, and Malcom Floyd steps up in Jackson's spot, but those are some big shoes to fill. I think it would be wise for the Chargers to go after recently released wideout TJ Houshmandzadeh to help fill that void left by Jackson. Regardless though, the Chargers are in the worst division in the NFL, and still have Rivers and Gates to run their offense through. They also have one of the better defenses in the league, so they'll make the playoffs. How far they go once they get their could be the real question though.

2nd Place, Kansas City Chiefs

Offensive Players:
QB Matt Cassell
RB Jamal Charles
RB Thomas Jones
WR Dwayne Bowe
WR Chris Chambers
WR/RB Dexter McCluster

Defensive Players:
LB Mike Vrabel
LB Tamba Hali
CB Brandon Flowers
SS Eric Berry (R)

The Chiefs have some questions on the defensive side of the ball, but in this division, every team has questions. Their offense, I think, will end up surprising people this year though. I think Matt Cassell will settle in some more in year 2 in KC, and with 2 stud running backs to help carry the load, and two very reliable receivers to throw to, I think he's in for a 25 TD season. Their defense has some holes, but also has a few nice pieces, including rookie safety Eric Berry. I also like the guy they have pushing the buttons on defense, and that is Romeo Crennel. I don't think the Chiefs are good enough to make the playoffs in 2010, but I do think they are the 2nd best team in this division.

3rd Place, Oakland Raiders

Offensive Players:
QB Jason Campbell
RB Michael Bush
RB Darren McFadden
TE Zach Miller
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey

Defensive Players:
DT Richard Seymour
LB Trevor Scott
LB Rolando McClain (R)
CB Nnamdi Asomugha
CB Chris Johnson
SS Tyvon Branch

The Raiders are improving, albeit at a very slow pace. I think they actually have a shot at .500 this year, though I think 7-9 is a more realistic possibility. Jason Campbell brings stability to the QB spot, and I think McFadden will emerge this year and provide the Raiders with a solid 1-2 rushing combo with Michael Bush. The Raiders just have no receiving options, and are going to need these guys to play out of this world in order for the Raiders to have an effective passing game. At least tight-end Zach Miller, easily the most underrated at his position in all the NFL, will help Campbell. The Raiders strength lies on defense though. They're going to be extremely tough to pass against, and they improved their front 7 in the draft, making them a much tougher run D in process. I think they're in for a nice turnaround in '10.

4th Place, Denver Broncos

Offensive Players:
QB Kyle Orton
RB Knowshon Moreno
WR Jabar Gaffney
RT Ryan Harris

Defensive Players:
NT Jamal Williams
LB D.J. Williams
LB Akin Ayodele
CB Champ Bailey
CB Andre Goodman
FS Brian Dawkins
SS Renaldo Hill

Like the Raiders, the are hoping their defense will win them some games for them. Unlike the Raiders though, the Broncos had one of the weaker D's in the league in '09. Their hoping Jamal Williams will help plug up run holes up front, and they're hoping their veteran secondary can stay healthy throughout the whole season. Offensively, they have 2 QB's waiting in the wings who will likely each get a look this year. Those 2 guys are Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow. Problem is, I don't think any of them will end up being elite NFL QB's. I like Knowshon Moreno, but he's apparently fragile, and may not be able to carry the ball 300 times in a season.

(R) indicates rookie

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