Is the AFC West really a one-trick pony this year? With turmoil in Denver, shuffling in Kansas City and Al Davis still running the show in Oakland that’s bound to be the question on everybody’s mind. In Denver the departure of Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler leaves a gaping whole in the offense that without Mike Shanahan’s plug and chug running scheme probably won’t be able to make up for it with the run. Add in an injury plagued backfield and an uncertain receiving corps and their set-up for a long season. In Kansas City the addition of Matt Cassell was supposed to be a huge boost to a team that lost Tony Gonzales in the offseason and signed… wait.. they lost their biggest receiving threat and think Matt Cassell is going to fix it? Good luck. In Oakland JaMarcus Russel and Darren McFadden make up an all SEC dual threat and have another year under their belts. But Al Davis’ sporadic tendencies make the team hard to predict.
1. San Diego Chargers 10-6; While good, the Chargers aren’t quite the powerhouse team of a few years ago. A big part of this is the slow decline in L.T.’s performance. The workhorse back is aging and there’s only so much Darren Sproles can do to replace him. The pass game is good, but lacks a true number one receiver and the defense seems to remain just outside the great range.
2. Oakland Raiders 7-9; Admittedly, Al Davis’ decision making ability is just terrible, and they may begin the season with the services of star CB Nnamdi Asomugha but the Raiders aren’t nearly as bad as advertised. If Davis can resist firing another head coach they might just win a few games yet.
3. Denver Broncos 6-10; New coach, new quarterback, new running back… a lot of new parts in Denver. There’s going to be a transition phase before those parts all fit together smoothly. Give them a few years.
4. Kansas City Chiefs 4-12; The Chiefs are bad. Downright bad. Dwayne Bowe came into camp out of shape and now faces the task of taking on double coverage all season without Gonzales in the middle. The backfield is questionable and the quarterbacks are even more so. Cassell was good in New England with talent around him in a system he was comfortable with. Don’t look for the same in Kansas City.