Sunday, September 12, 2010

2010 NFL Preview-AFC West

San Diego Chargers (10-6): It pains me to say that, at least for one more year, the Chargers will take the division. It won't be a slam dunk by any stretch, because the division has improved in every team except for San Diego, who are missing two very valuable pieces. Without Marcus McNeill to protect Philip Rivers at left tackle and without Vincent Jackson for him to throw to, he's going to have a pretty hard time of it, especially with a diminished defense. They're banking big on a running game they've never seen. Ryan Matthews may be superb, but pretending they return to the LT days with Matthews is delusional.

Denver Broncos (9-7): The loss of Elvis Dumervil is devestating, but by all accounts, Robert Ayers and Jarvis Moss, both disappointing thus far in their careers, have stepped their games up considerably. That the consensus that the Broncos will be incredibly bad is really stupid and nobody has given a real explanation for why. Normally, it comes down to a general hatred for Josh McDaniels. They've improved at every position except receiver, and that's even addition by subtraction. Marshall was nothing but a distraction. The D-line is way tougher, their secondary is superb, the O-line is one of the best in the league, Kyle Orton has looked fantastic in the preseason. I see a pretty good, but not quite playoff-bound team.

Oakland Raiders (7-9): Oakland is on the way up. If they get there, I'm going to get physically sick, literally, probably for days. I've always thought Jason Campbell got a raw deal in Washington. He'll do well in Oakland, if for no other reason, because the team actually wants him there. Confidence goes a long way at that position. I think they had a sadly excellent offseason, with draft picks that don't make Al Davis look like an insane fool (though he still is, of course). If Davis is willing to keep players and coaches consistent for a couple of years, they might be closer to where they were a decade ago.

Kansas City Chiefs (5-11): The Chiefs are going to be better than their five wins make them look. Like the Raiders, they've improved in all facets. Not quite as much as Oakland, but they had farther to go anyway. Matt Cassel isn't very good, and might do better with his old job as a Bruce Campbell impersonator, but he's helped by a huge upgrade with Thomas Jones at running back, improvement on both sides of the line and, also like the Raiders, actually consistency from year to year. The only question is whether OC Charlie Weiss eats one of the players during halftime.