AFC West Preview

Well, the AFC West looks like it may be down this year. Here is my breakdown of the division.

Denver Broncos

Well, to say it was a hard off-season in Denver is an understatement. First, we will start on offense. The Broncos traded Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler this off-season and replaced them with who? Exactly. The Broncos look like an offense that has no explosiveness or weapons that scare anyone( I really don't think defenses are going to gameplan to stop Daniel Graham), and the few so-called weapons they did have, running backs Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter, are injured already. At the quarterback position, the big move was getting Brady Quinn to be a high-priced number 2 quarterback? Josh McDaniel is going to have to be a magician to make this offense appear to be anything.

On defense, the Broncos lost their main weapon in Elvis Dummervil. He may miss the entire season with a torn pectoral muscle. That's a huge blow. The Broncos still have Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins, but other than that, there isn't much more worth talking about with this defense.

On special teams, the kickers and punters should have good years as they will probably have a lot of attempts this year in the thin air in Denver.

Kansas City Chiefs

Well, the Chiefs biggest moves this off-season didn't even involve players.

The Chiefs brought in Charlie Weis has their offensive coordinator this year. This means that the Chiefs will be a little more explosive, at least by the design of the plays by Weis. Matt Cassel should take another step forward this year in his 2nd year as the starting quarterback for the Chiefs. Cassel has some weapons around him as well. He has Dwayne Bowe, a monstrous wide receiver with speed, Chris Chambers, a speedy wide receiver with big-play ability, a home run hitter in the backfield in Jamal Charles and if Charles isn't running well, the Chiefs have Thomas Jones to come in and provide his services. I expect this offense to be much improved this year.

On defense, Romeo Crennel takes over as the defensive coordinator. He inherits a defense that has some underacheivers present. Glenn Dorsey has been a disappointment so far in the NFL. I look for the change of scheme(Chiefs will run a 3-4 this year), to really energize Dorsey. If not, then this may be the beginning of the end of Dorsey in Kansas City. At the linebacker spot, Crennel has one of his old favorites in Mike Vrabel to lead his linebacking corp. Hopefully Derek Johnson can become the linebacker everyone thought he would be when he came out of Texas. He has been a disappointment as well in his career. In the defensive secondary, I believe the Chiefs have and emerging shutdown corner in Brandon Flowers. The addition of Eric Berry and the presence of veteran Patrick Surtain add to what should be a solid secondary for the Chiefs.

On special teams, the Chiefs should be solid. A return man does need to be identified for them though. Is it just me or is this team trying to be New England of the Midwest?

Oakland Raiders

It pains me to say this, but Al Davis made a good move in ditching JaMarcus Russell and trading for Jason Campbell. I don't know if he will be a Jim Plunkett type player like Al Davis said, but he will bring professionalism and leadership to a team starved for that on the offensive side of the ball. At the runing back position, its time for McFadden to prove his worth. He as shown glimpses from time to time, but he is being given the opportunity to be the lead guy with Justin Fargas being let go. If he falters, then Michael Bush will be there to pick up the carries. At the receiver position, the Raiders have JaVon Walker, Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy. None of these guys scare me at all. The Raiders may be a grind-it-out team on offense this year and I know that makes Al Davis sad.

On defense, the Raiders should be better. A full training camp for Richard Seymour should make him even better in this defense. The addition of John Henderson also will provide a better run-stuffing lineman as well. At the linebacker position, the Raiders have a crown piece in McClain, but they traded away Morrison. It would have been scary to see what these two could have done together, but McClain should be the centerpiece of the revival at this position. In the secondary, the Raiders still have on e of the best corners in the league in Nnamdi Asomugha. Other than him, no one else really scares me in the Raiders secondary.

On special teams, the Raider should be pretty good with Johnny Lee Higgins returning kicks and punts and Sabastian Janikowski kicking field goals.

San Diego Chargers

This team is a team that is in a transition. LT is now gone to the Jets, so this team is Phillip River's team. Expect the Chargers to pss the ball a lot more this year. Sure, it helps that you drafter a workhorse running back in Ryan Matthews to take the place of LT, but this team has been evolving into a passing team for some years now. But, their passing attack is going to take a huge hit if Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeil do not sign their tenders from the club and get into camp and all indications are that they are willing to sit out until Week 10, when they have to play in order to be a free agent the next year. Antonio Gates still is a great tight end, but he needs some playmakers around him to make him even more effective. With all that being said, I still expect Rivers to take what he has and make it great. Also, watch for Darren Spoles on 3rd downs this year. He is explosive!!!!

On defense, the Chargers have some work to do. They let go off their anchor in the middle of their defense, Jamal Williams, and have yet to find a suitable replacement. This means that the Chargers will have to maybe stunt or run blitz a little more to compensate. At the linebacker position, a healthy Sean Phillips and Sean Merriman should make for some relentless pressure on the quarterback. Stephen Cooper and Kevin Burnette should make for a good combination at the inside linebacker position. In the secondary, the Chargers have a playmaking safety in Eric Weddle. The thing that has always been missing from the Charger defense has always been cornerbacks. The Chargers let go of a good one in Antonio Cromartie and really didn't fill that position well, in my opinion, with Nathan Vasher. He could surprise me and flashback to the old Nathan Vasher, but for right now, he is an injury-plagued corner who can't move the way he used to.

On special teams, the Chargers will have a dangerous weapon in Darren Sproles. He can take it to the house anytime he touches the ball. The kicking game is faily solid with Nick Kaeding.

Predictions
Division Winner: San Diego Chargers
Best Rookie: Eric Berry
Division MVP: Phillip Rivers

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