AFC West Preview

AFC West Preview

Jarrett Bailey, Sports Writer

With the AFC nearly done being covered, my final AFC division is out West with the Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers, and Raiders.

  1. Broncos (12-4): Denver has one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL, combined with one of the very best defenses as well. When both are combined, you have a recipe for success. Peyton Manning, even nearing the age of 40, is still arguably the best QB in the league, as he threw for 4,727 yards and 39 TDs last season. Now, new leadership with Gary Kubiak may be an issue, as we saw yesterday against Baltimore, but I think the offense will be fine under the new balanced attack rather than having the spread offense. This gives more opportunities to Ronnie Hillman and C.J Anderson at running back to shine. This is not to be implying reducing the roll of Manning, as he still has Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders at wide out. Now, he has a new toy at tight end as Owen Daniels followed Gary Kubiak to Denver from Baltimore. Defensively, DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller are the leaders of the D. They have a good secondary lead by Aqib Talib, who Denver has had high hopes on since he came to the team in 2013. Overall, I like the odds of the Broncos having a successful year.
  2. Chiefs (11-5): I think the Chiefs and Broncos will be in a dog fight for the division title this year, but I see them falling a game short and earning a wildcard spot. Alex Smith is ready to lead this team for another year, and along with Jamal Charles, they have one of the best QB-HB punches in the NFL. With the huge addition of Jeremy Maclin at wide out to take the load off of Charles and give Smith a new target, I love the chances that Kansas City has at having a high-powered offense this season. Defensively, Kansas City has a unit that puts fear in the eyes of opposing quarterbacks. When you look at their linebackers, two names that stand out are Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson. Johnson is coming back from a 2014 campaign in which he played only one game due to injury, so you know he’s ready to be back on the field. Looking at Hali, he had six sacks last year. Now, although that was a decline from his 2013 campaign in which he had 11, Hali is still one of the best in the business at what he does. Their secondary is also one to be reckon with, with a pair of safeties in Husain Abdullah and Eric Berry that compliment each other so well as they rotate at the Free Safety slot. Overall, I think the Chiefs have a good year and end up in the 5 slot in the playoffs as the first wildcard team.
  3. Chargers (8-8): The Bolts have had a rough stretch over the past few seasons, with a large number of records of 8-8, and I see much of the same this season. When you look at their offense, they have a unit full of good players that are nearing the end of their career. Phillip Rivers is going into his12th season at the helm of this Chargers team, and at age 33, you have to wonder how many good years he has left. Although he is still a good QB, that thought still has t be in people’s minds. Antonio gates is definitely nearing the end of his line. He is 35 years old, but still put up 69 receptions and 12 TDs last year. But, nonetheless, their is a few things to be excited about this season. Jacoby Jones and Stevie Johnson are definitely good compliments to the starting two receivers (Malcom Floyd and Keenan Allen) and could help Rivers have a good season. On the defensive side of the ball, I’m not sure what we’ll see this year. Manti Te’o is a guy that they expect big things from, along with fellow linebacker Melvin Ingram. Brandon Flowers is the leader of the secondary and one of the very best in the game at corner, so if all goes well, the Bolts should have a decent year.
  4. Raiders (5-11): For about the last decade and a half, the raiders have been the mockery of the NFL, but have been trying to steadily improve and have shown signs of life the past few seasons. They added Michael Crabtree at receiver along with drafting Amari Cooper to give young quarterback Derek Carr some targets to work with. Carr has shown a ton of potential, and Oakland fans are hoping and praying that he will bring some respect and success back to this franchise. On the other side of the ball, the silver and black are a unit that has a good D-line lead by third year man Khalil Mack. Mack had 75 tackles in his rookie campaign in 2014, and has shown Raiders fans that he has what it takes to lead this defense for years to come. I think that the Raiders secondary is one that will improve from last year. They still have the wiley ol’ veteran Charles Woodson at safety, who is still a productive player even in his 18th season. With his experience, he could be a great teacher and roll model for other guys in their secondary, such as Nate Carrie and D.J Hayden. I do think that, if given a few years to grow and develop, this young Oakland team can return to the glory days of “The Black Hole”, and be a dominant force in the NFL, but it will definitely take some time and growing pain.
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