The Fan Bases Of The AFC West

This is the most confusing time of year. On one hand, it's the time for optimism. It starts with the NFL Draft. On Draft day, millions of football fans wait to see what new toys are going to be on their teams. Every year, there are players who spark lingo such as "franchise player" or "game changer". During OTA's and Training Camp, there is nothing but positive vibes. "Progression", "potential", and "improving" are very common words during this time of year. However, there is a dark side to this time of the year.

Since there are a lot of positive vibes going out, it's easy to get overly optimistic. When there are reports of wide receivers making one handed catches in double coverage during OTA's, it's hard not to picture them doing that during the season. It's good to be positive. Being positive only makes Training Camp and the Pre-Season that much more enjoyable. However, being overly positive/unrealistic is just setting yourself up for failure and makes you look dumb on blogs like this.

So I decided to do an experiment. I wanted to see how each AFC West fan base was feeling going into Training Camp and Pre-Season. So I did posts on the SB Nation blogs: Bolts From The Blue and Silver And Black Pride. I got the opinion of several Chiefs fans in the comment section of a couple of their posts. I wanted to know their opinions on the questions that were being asked about their teams. I wanted to know what they felt positive about, and what they were nervous about in the near future. It was a fun experiment. So without further ado, here is the state of the AFC West through the eyes of the fans

Oakland Raiders

To be honest, I was not looking forward to going over to Silver and Black Pride. I went over there a couple of times before, and they weren't pleasant experiences. I was cursed at for defending a fellow MHRer. I was called a troll and many other things that made xbox live look like heaven. So when I posted my article, I expected much of the same.

I got the exact opposite. My article ended up with almost 30 comments of in depth analysis of the Raiders through the eyes of their fans. There was one person who didn't accept me (that's putting it nicely) but the majority of them gave some great responses. After reading all of the comments, here is what I have concluded:

Things Raider Nation Is Optimistic About

Jason Campbell- This was on almost every single comment. Raider fans are thrilled to be rid of Jabba-the-Russel. Can anyone blame them? After 3 years of horrendous play, the Raider fans were done with Russel and were ready for someone new. They were prepared to go forward with Gradkowski but many acknowledged he wasn't that good. He only seemed good last year because Jamarcus was so bad. When Campbell was picked up on the 3rd day of the draft, the Raider fans rejoiced. They see Campbell as the first real signal caller on the team in 3 years. He undoubtedly makes the offense better. A few were particularly happy that the Raiders got Campbell since he utilized his tight ends very effectively in Washington. They hope that Campbell will make Zach Miller a pro bowl TE.

Defense as a whole- Especially the D-Line. They are thrilled with the additions of Lamar Houston and Mario Henderson. Add on Richard Seymour's pass rush abilities and they believe their d-line will be pretty effective. They have some pass rush depth in Groves, Shaughnessy, and Richardson. Many feel that Rolando McClain is going to be the next great linebacker. They are happy with their safeties Branch, Mitchell, and Huff. Overall, they are most excited about their defense. They are very happy with the additions to the front 7. Only real questions are with the OLB's. With speculation they are going to throw some 3-4 looks, there is some confusion on how the OLB's will perform. Raider Nation thinks there defense is going to be drastically improved.

Michael Bush- Raider fans believe Bush is about to be unleashed and he is going to wreak havoc all over the AFC West. There is a lot of excitement about Bush in the Black Hole.

Bush has been badly under/mis-used by Cable, but has been productive, although he sometimes has trouble with the handle. -Silver and Black Pride user "signcut"

Almost everyone on S&BP think that Bush is going to have a huge season. The only thing stopping him is the thing they are most pessimistic about. Speaking of which...

Things Raider Nation Is Pessimistic About

Offensive Line- This is by far the thing they are most pessimistic about. They like the additions of Bruce Campbell and Jared Veldheer. However, they are not expecting much from them in their rookie seasons. In fact, they aren't expecting much from the whole line. They aren't really happy with any player on their o-line.

Too many questions here, this is still by far our biggest area of concern until I am proven otherwise but on field production. Simply put this unit will determine if we have another 10 loss season. Silver and Black Pride user "RAIDERSNOMERCY"

This is the key to their season. The line is bad. Most Raider fans just hope that the line doesn't digress. They hope they play just as good as last year and pray they improve in any aspect.

2nd Cornerback

Nmandi is arguably the best corner in the AFC West. The whole AFC West knows he is a force to be reckoned with. The problem is that there is almost nothing after him. They know that if Nmandi goes down, their pass defense is going to be terrible. Their second cornerback is Chris Johnson. He played okay last year, but they need him to step up if the defense is going to be great. After Chris is pretty much nothing. They are hoping that Nmandi continues to be healthy and great and that Chris steps up.

Wide Receivers

Raider Nation is not happy with DHB. They acknowledge that he was terrible last year. Plain terrible. With that being said, they are encouraged by the reports from OTA's. However, many of them are taking the "I'll believe it when I see it" approach. They are optimistic about Schilens' potential, but they need him to stay healthy. Everyone who commented on him talked about his problems with staying healthy. They like Higgins, but acknowledge he has stuff to improve on(route running, drops). The general consensus is that their wide receivers are young. They need time to hone their skills. They hope that they can be effective enough to make the playoffs.

General Raider Nation Consensus: The Raiders are going to be much improved. A few of the people believe that Raiders' defense could be a top 10 unit. The thing that is stopping the Raiders from a playoff appearance is the offensive line. It is pretty bad. If the offensive line can keep it together then most see them as an 8-8/9-7 team. If not, well the Pats will be thankful.

San Diego Chargers

Sadly, there weren't that many replies from BFTB. They are a relatively new blog, but I was hoping for more responses. Of the responses I did get, I was pretty surprised by the responses.

Things Bolt Fans Are Most About

Phillip Rivers- Why is Phillip Rivers on here? There isn't anything new about him. Well the reason he is on here is because the fans are so confident in him that they don't care about Vincent Jackson's likely 10 game leave. In Rivers they trust, and they trust in him a lot. They know Vincent is talented, but they believe Rivers, the scheming, and the other receivers are enough to still be dominant. I could not find one person who was significantly worried about Vincent Jackson's situation.

Ryan Matthews- Charger fans were clearly tired of LT. Don't get me wrong, they love him and wished he could have been a Charger for life. However, they are so relieved to finally get a new, young running back who is full of potential. Every Charger fan I talk to believes Matthews is easily going to be OROY. They are a little worried about his ability to stay healthy, but there excitement over his potential overshadows their small fear.

Cam Thomas- The Chargers aren't going to be missing Jamal Williams. They are very excited about Cam Thomas being their new nose tackle. Cam is entering his rookie year with high expectations from pretty much every Charger fan. He is going to be the center of their d-line. There is plenty of uncertainty among their d-line, but Cam is their bright spot.

Things Bolt Fans Are Pessimistic About

Marcus McNeil- Of the 2 potential holdouts, McNeil is the one that Charger fans are scared of most. But they aren't terribly scared of losing him either. McNeil is a pretty good left tackle. They are a little afraid that losing him will result in a drop off in the passing game. They believe their offense won't suffer tremendously, but losing McNeil makes some of them nervous.

D-Line- This is arguably their biggest question.

Huge question-mark. It could be anything from weak to dominant, depending on how the young guys turn out. We have a lot of guys we know to be just-barely-good-enough: Cesaire, Boone, Bingham and Garay. We have one bona-fide starter (Castillo), with injury concerns. But there are a few guys with as-yet untapped potential on the roster: Nwagbuo, Thomas, Martin, Johnson. - Bolts From The Blue user "Neoplatonist Bolthead"

I think this is a fair assessment. Their d-line is full of questions. Castillo is the only good player, but he has injury issues. The rest of the guys are well mediocre enough to allow them to win.

Antonio Gates injury- Antonio Gates is one of the primary reasons why Bolt fans aren't scared of losing Jackson. Gates is a huge threat and a prolific part of their offense. As long as they have Gates to wreak havoc, they aren't that scared of losing Vincent. However, the problem is that Gates has foot problems. If they lose him, they are in for a rough ride. If he stays healthy, they should be good.

General Bolt Fan Consensus

All is good in Charger land. The losses of Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeil won't be bad enough to keep them from winning the AFC West. Record? 11-5

Kansas City Chiefs

Let me start off by saying I am not a Chiefs fan. I am a die hard Bronco fan and will never ever root for the Chiefs over the Broncos. With that being said, I really like Arrowhead Pride. I like the people, I like the tone, and I like the constant information. I had some really good, intellectual conversations with some of the guys over there. AP is a good place with some really good people. Anyway, I didn't make a fanpost on AP like I did on the other SB Nation blogs. If I had, I probably would have gotten around 80 responses. Instead, I posted a couple comments and plenty of people responded. So here is what I have found out

Things Chiefs Fans Are Most Optimistic About

Dexter McCluster- This is arguably the one thing they are most excited about going into 2010. Many believe Dexter is going to bring a whole new dimension to the Kansas City offense. They see him as a "Percy Harvin" type of player. They see him having a similar impact. His speed, elusiveness, and promising reports from OTA's have Chiefs fans watering from the mouth. They don't care about his size (5 ft 8, 165 lbs). They point to DeSean Jackson and Steve Smith of the Panthers. It's not just his Special Teams potential that they are excited about. They believe that McCluster is going to be a real force as a slot receiver. They see a real game changer in this kid.

Jamaal Charles- Jamaal Charles is the man in Kansas City and everyone knows it. After having a fantastic 4 game stretch to end the season, fans are ready to see what he can do with a whole season. While the offensive line didn't get drastically better, they added some depth and Chiefs fans are ready to let Charles loose. With the help of Thomas Jones, the Chiefs have a very solid running back core.

Secondary- What do you get when you combine Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, and Eric Berry? A secondary that Chiefs fans think is one of the best in the league. Everyone believes that Flowers is a shut down corner who will be a pro bowler in the near future. Carr is a solid # 2 and Berry is well Berry. They believe they are one of the best and the only thing that could derail their pass defense is injuries.

Things Chiefs Fans Are Most Pessimistic About

D-Line- This is the one thing that fans are most pessimistic about by far. It's really not even close. Many Chiefs fans believe their team is a 8-8 team at least. If the D-line steps it up, they could make the playoffs. The Chiefs D-line is headlined by 2 1st round draft picks who haven't performed well yet. Those players are Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey. The D-line is going to be a big problem for KC if they don't perform better.

The defensive front seven is the weakest link. I’m not sure what anyone expects there but I think the realists here on AP will just be holding our breath and praying it works. They should be better with Crennel and another year under their belt and its way too early to write off dorsey or jackson yet but its a wait and see for the defense. Arrowhead Pride user "GenericBrand"

Wide Receivers- This isn't an area of concern, it's an area of question marks according to KC fans. Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers are arguably the only good receivers on the team.

Bowe has the physical tools to turn it around its just more of a mental thing for him. Arrowhead Pride user "GenericBrand"

They hope Chris Chambers keeps up his production from last season. However, he is turning 32 in August. In the last 6 years, the most passes he has caught was 45 in 09. KC likes McCluster and TE Tony Moeaki, but both are rookies and there is no guarantee they will be able to produce any significant amount.

O-Line- KC fans won't like this up here. Many of them insisted the o-line is much better then last season, but I can't help but question that. This off season, they have signed Ryan Lilja and Casey Weigmann. They also drafted Jon Asamoah. They believe that those 3 are enough to improve their offensive line. A couple of other Chiefs fans not on AP told me they are still worried about the o-line. They are taking the wait and see approach.

General Chiefs Fan Consensus- The Chiefs are a much improved team. Bringing in Charlie Weis will bolster the offense. The Chief's great secondary will overshadow the porous defensive line. The Chiefs aren't quite ready to make the playoffs, but they could very well finish 2nd. Record? 8-8

Denver Broncos

I saved the best for last. What is there to say about the Denver Broncos? I don't know that much about them, but I've talked to 2 or 3 people about them and this is what I have found.

Things Bronco Country Is Optimistic About

D-Line- Last year, the D-Line was terrible. They were the main reason our defense collapsed in the later parts of the year. So on the first day of free agency, Josh McD began talking with and eventually signed Justin Bannan, Jamal Williams, and Jarvis Green. These 3 players are all solid veterans who will drastically improve our d-line. Jamal Williams is arguably the most important of them all. Jamal will be tasked with playing the nose position. Despite being 34, Jamal is still one of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the league. If he stays healthy, his impact against the run will be seen in HD all season long.

Wide Receivers- We lose Brandon Marshall. We gain Demayrius Thomas, Eric Decker, and are beginning to see Matthew Willis, Brandon Lloyd, and Kenny McKinley break out of their shells. Denver fans aren't mourning the loss of Marshall at all. Instead, Bronco Country is looking its chops waiting for all of these to put on some pads and play in TC. Marshall was a beast for us the past 3 years, but he was undeniably forced the ball consistently. Josh is looking to make his offense New Orleans Saintesque. Solid receivers all around, but no # 1. It seemed to work for the Saints last year, and I would bet that it will work for Denver too.

Perrish Cox- In a couple of years, people will look back and say, "I can't believe Denver picked up Perrish Cox in the 5th round. That guy is a beast." Cox is just a rookie, but he is already progressing up the depth chart and taking 1st team reps. He has lock down corner potential. Bronco fans were beginning to worry who would take over for Champ, but their minds seem to be a little bit more at ease.

Things Bronco Country Is Pessimistic About

Offensive Line- Thanks a lot Ryan Clady. Broncoholics were having a nice, relaxing summer when you decided to tear your patellar tendon. Now, the Bronco fans are worried about how the o-line is going to do. With RT Ryan Harris coming back from an injury, Clady was the one bright spot for our o-line this summer. Ryan ruined it. Now there are a whole bunch of questions going into TC.

Linebacker Depth- Denver has the reigning sack champion: Elvis Dumervil. Behind him...well a bunch of questions. Robert Ayers was receiving rave reviews headed into OTA's, but a behind the scene incident caused Ayers to miss 2 OTA practices. Ayers is supposed to be the opposite starting LB. Behind both of them are a bunch of unproven players who can't be relied on for a permanent position. So Please Elvis stay healthy!

Coaches Play Calling- This ones for you McGeorge. This has been brought up a couple times around MHR. It is something that MHRers aren't pessimistic about, but they do have questions. Last season, I was about to toss my size 13 shoe if I saw another bubble screen. With Marshall out of the picture, will McD be able to call more efficient plays with the personnel that he has selected? We shall see.

General Bronco Fan Consensus- Last season, the defense was great in the first 6 games. They faded towards the end of the season. This off season, Denver was able to bolster their defense even more by improving their defensive line. The offense looks to be more well rounded and they have a real chance at making the playoffs and winning the AFC West. Record? 9-7.

My Opinion On The Whole AFC West

The AFC West should be interesting. There are a lot of questions that need answering before the season starts. Will San Diego have two crucial holdouts? Will Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris return to the Denver o-line? Will the Chiefs have enough talent in their d-line? Will Oakland's offense become more complete with Jason Campbell? These are all questions that need answering and there are a ton more. I think the final records look something like this: Raiders: 6-10 Kansas City: 7-9 Denver: 8-8 San Diego: 10-6.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR.