A few friends and I got together and started a sports blog called Pardon My Bias. We cover all sports and give our analysis on them. I just wrote this article on a preview of the AFC West. If you enjoy this, please check out more of our articles at http://www.pardonmybias.com
The AFC West has been the Chargers division for the last 4 years, and they are once again the clear cut favorites. The division has been known as one of the weakest in the league the last few years, but is filled with franchises with storied histories who are hungry to win again.
San Diego Chargers – The Chargers finished last season with a 13-3 record with the #2 seed in the AFC but were upset by the New York Jets AFC Divisional game. The season was highlighted by the 11-game win streak after starting the season 2-3. Expectations for the Bolts were once again high going into the playoffs as the hottest team, only to be steamrolled. This is a reputation the Chargers have gained—a team that does well during the season, but disappoints during the post season. This year also marks the beginning of the post-LT era in San Diego. Tomlinson had a disappointing season last year with a career-low 730 yards, and most believe he is on the decline of his career. The carries will now be handed to Darren Sproles and 12th pick in the 2010 draft Ryan Mathews. There is a lot of pressure on the RBs to bring the Chargers back to a strong running game they had with LT. The Chargers have also come into camp with some unhappy campers. WR Vincent Jackson, OT Marcus McNeill, and OLB/DE Shawn Merriman are all holdouts. Vincent Jackson has also been suspended three games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy which is going to hurt the Chargers who don’t have the strongest receiving core. I think the Chargers will struggle this season, but still finish with the top record. What remains to be seen is if they are able to make a real run into the playoffs, which has been the expectation for the last few years.
Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs finished with one of the worst records in the league last year at 4-12. A lot of pressure falls onto the Matt Cassel’s shoulders this season who was signed to a 6-year, $63 million contract in July 2009. He did a great job in 2008 when filling in for Tom Brady in New England, but things did not pan out well last season for Cassel who finished with 2,924 yards, 16 TDs, and 16 INT with a 69.9 passer rating. The picks were clearly too high and will need to come down for the Chiefs to have a chance at winning more than four games this year. Cassel has two good targets in Chris Chambers and Dwayne Bowe, but Cassel’s efficiency must go up. Jamaal Charles will be the main running back this season after Larry Johnson was cut in week 9 last season. Charles was splitting carries with Kolby Smith, but he will see a much more important role this season. I believe this could be a breakout season for Charles being on a weak team. The Chiefs have some good veterans in Make Vrabel, Bobby Engram, and Mike Brown, who will have to help develop some of the Chief’s young talent. At the end of the day, the Chiefs still have another tough season.
Denver Broncos – The Broncos finished with a mediocre and disappointing 8-8 record last year. In 2009, the Josh McDaniels era began Denver. His first move was quite a surprise as they traded star quarterback Jay Cutler to Chicago for Kyle Orton. At first, McDaniels looked like a genious as Cutler led the Broncos to a 6-0 record, but gravity soon caught up in mile-high city. The hot start was followed by losses to Ravens, Steelers, Redskins, and Chargers. Kyle Orton did well as his number improved from his days in the Chicago, but his current team, the Broncos, were not able to translate it into wins. Denver backed up the QB position this offseason when the acquired Brady Quinn from the Cleveland Browns and drafted Heisman Trophy Winner Tim Tebow with the 25th pick. Experts have been hesitant on how Tebow’s game would translate into the pros and many considered the 25th pick to be way too high for Tebow. The Broncos have taken a big gamble and it remains to be seen how Tebow does as a pro. One big loss the Broncos had this offseason was trading Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins for two draft picks. Marshall was a real threat down field, and finished with 101 receptions and 10 TDs. Denver has a good running back in Knowshon Moreno, but need a stronger offensive attack. The defense is led by veteran Brian Dawkins and our under a new defensive coordinator in Don Martindale. The Broncos have missed the playoffs for four straight seasons, and will need a miraculous season to knock the Chargers of the AFC West throne.
Oakland Raiders – The Raiders have been going downhill for the last seven seasons, and continued the roll last season finishing 5-11. It’s been a tough few years for some of the league’s best fans, trust me, I would know. This will be the second full season under hard-nosed coach Tom Cable. The Raiders finally cut their losses with 2007 NFL draft’s #1 pick JaMarcus Russell who never was able to live up to his hype. They were able to pick up former Washington Redskins’ QB Jason Campbell who will battle for the starting position with Bruce Gradkowski. The Raiders have finished the last two seasons at 5-11, and winning two more games this season would be considered a success. Young running back Darren McFadden has a great set of skills but will need to have a strong season for the Raiders to be successful. The Raiders have put together some good young pieces with Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Johnnie Lee Higgins, and Zach Miller. The defense has good cornerstones in Richard Seymour and Nnamdi Asomugha, and will be adding 8th pick from the 2010 draft, LB Rolando McClain. Although the Raiders haven’t been able to translate good football into wins, this has been the best they’ve played since their 2002 Super Bowl appearance. The Raiders have an opportunity this season to challenge the Broncos for finishing in the second spot for the AFC West.
- San Diego Chargers (11-5)
- Denver Broncos (7-9)
- Oakland Raiders (6-10)
- Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)
Check back for my next divisional preview of the NFC West coming soon!