NFL: AFC West Breakdown

In part seven of the MikesPickz NFL Breakdown, we will take a look at the AFC West.

2009 Standings:AFC West
San Diego Chargers – 13-3 *Playoffs
Denver Broncos – 8-8
Oakland Raiders – 5-11
Kansas City Chiefs – 4-12

2010 Preseason:
Oakland Raiders – 3-1
Denver Broncos – 1-3
San Diego Chargers – 1-3
Kansas City Chiefs – 1-3

2010 Regular Season Predictions:
San Diego Chargers – 14-2
Denver Broncos – 8-8
Oakland Raiders – 7-9
Kansas City Chiefs – 6-10

Team Breakdowns:

San Diego Chargers:
The San Diego Chargers are going to legitimately contend for a SuperBowl birth this season, even if Vincent Jackson holds out the entire season. Philip Rivers may not be the most liked quarterback in the league, but he can certainly play the game and I would consider him a top 5 QB in the league (back-to-back 100+ passer rating seasons). The Chargers will have a great offense this season even without Vincent Jackson. They have one of the most physical set of receivers in the league that have the ability to punish defensive backs. The Chargers receiving core consists of Malcolm Floyd (6’5″/225lbs), Legedu Naanee (6’2″/220lbs), and Antonio Gates (6’4″/260lbs), not to mention Jackson (6’5″/230lbs). Floyd should blossom into one of the league’s best wide receivers this season. In addition to the solid passing game, the rushing attack should be equally impressive. Rookie Ryan Mathews will be the main back and he has the tools to be one of the best in the league in only a few years. On the defensive side of the ball, the Chargers are an average team. Shaun Phillips (LB) and Shawne Merriman (LB) are great players, although Merriman didn’t have the best season last year. Quentin Jammer is solid on the outside, but they will miss Antonio Cromartie.

Denver Broncos:
The Broncos will once again have a mediocre season, but it won’t hurt as bad as last season’s 8-8 record. Last season was a huge disappointment, after opening 6-0, the Broncos finished the season 2-8 and missed the playoffs again. The offense will be surrounded by questions marks. Kyle Orton wasn’t terrible last season, but he wasn’t great either. Eddie Royal didn’t live up to his hype in the passing game (still a great return man) last season and the Broncos hope he can develop into a true #1 WR. The running game could suffer because of injuries. Knowshon Moreno had some injury trouble in the off-season, but has been practicing and should start in Week 1. The main problem is that the O-line has also been banged up and it is possible that there will be three rookies starting during Week 1.

Oakland Raiders:
The Oakland Raiders are moving the right direction and they have the potential to exceed my prediction. The Raiders finally released JaMarcus Russell during the off-season and they were able to get Jason Campbell from Washington. Campbell should thrive in Oakland and I feel he was often underrated in Washington. The Raiders are still in the growing phase. They have very young wide receivers – Darrius Heyward-Bey (2nd year), Chaz Schilens (3rd year) and Louis Murphy (2nd year). Heyward-Bey did not impress during his rookie season, but maybe that was because of the inadequacies at quarterback. Maybe? The backfield is full of potential with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Bush has had a thumb injury during the pre-season but it shouldn’t keep him out too long. Someone to watch for is Zach Miller, with Campbell this season I expect Miller to shine in the passing game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders have one of the top cover corners in the NFL in Nnamdi Asomugha. The rest of the defense not up to par, but there is potential.

Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs have the potential to have good offense this season. The offense’s success will depend on which Matt Cassel shows up this season. If the Cassel from New England in 2007 (89.4 QB Rating) shows up, the Chiefs might surprise some people. If the Cassel from last season (69.9 QB Rating) shows up, they won’t surprise many people. I really liked the addition of Chris Chambers last season and I think him and Dwayne Bowe will be a pretty good 1-2 punch on the outside. A strength of the Chiefs is definitely their running game. They acquired Thomas Jones in the off-season and now have two 1,000 yard rushers in their back-field. Jones and Jamaal Charles (who had 1,100 yards on only 190 carries) will be a great combo and I expect them to both get plenty of touches (carries and receptions). The defense was ranked 30th in yards allowed last season, and I don’t think the Chiefs did enough to correct that problem. I do like rookie safety Eric Berry, but I think they will need more than that to compete for a playoff spot.

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