AFC West NFL Preview

In preparation for the upcoming 2013 NFL season, Just A Guy has put together a team-by-team analysis with a run down of every division along with the staff’s picks for how they believe the division will play out. In this article we highlight the AFC West, which includes the Chargers, Broncos, Chiefs, and Raiders. 

San Diego Chargers

Norv Turner is gone but the problems did not leave with him.  The offense is a mess.  The O-Line is terrible, starting wide receiver Danario Alexander tore is ACL and Ryan Mathews is healthy but for how long? Not to mention Antonio Gates is not the same player he was a few years back.  And where does all the pressure go- on the shoulders of Phillip Rivers.  The last few years he has not been the same great QB he was considered as in his first few years in the league (see Jay Cutler). He will be asked to spectacular with not much around him and this could lead to some frustrating games.  It should be a very inconsistent, mediocre and down year for this offense.  On defense, there isn’t much of any more hope.  An ok unit from 2012 is largely much unchanged or improved.  An older Dwight Freeney might help a bit as well as everyone’s favorite football player to poke fun at- Manti T’eo.  Eric Weddle remains in the secondary which is always a plus.  In short not a good year to be a Chargers fan.  They could be one of the worst teams in the league with 5 or 6 wins being a successful season.

Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos are certainly the team to beat in the division, if not the entire conference. Peyton Manning returned last season from a neck injury and led the Broncos to the playoffs. Another year working with his receivers is going to only improve the passing attack. Wes Welker signed on this off season, which will probably take away from the numbers of certain receivers (looking at you Eric Decker), but the mission is to win the Super Bowl, not pad fantasy stats, so no one should complain. Montee Ball seems to be the number one back in the backfield, but expect him to be deployed in some sort of platoon type deal along with Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno.

Offense though is not the issue with the Denver Broncos. Von Miller is suspended and Elvis Dumervil walked away in one of the most bizarre free agent sagas in recent history. Can this defense hold up until Miller gets back, and more importantly, can they replace Dumervil’s production? All that said, the Broncos should walk through this division and set up a deep playoff run.

Kansas City Chiefs

The worst team in the league last year…but with 6 pro bowlers. That screams that the pro bowl is useless and a popularity contest; or that the Chiefs were just unlucky. Or, it could be a little of both. This season, Andy Reid takes over after a long, impressive stint in Philadelphia. A new home could be just what Reid needs to regain his old success that he once had with the Eagles. He inherits Jamal Charles, one of the game’s best backs. Much was made about Peterson’s epic recovery and performance. People forget Charles also tore his ACL in 2011, albeit in week 2 of that year. But he returned last season to run for 1500 plus yards. Not bad. He is also a big receiving threat. Remember how productive and dangerous Brian Westbrook and Lesean McCoy were under Reid. The Chiefs also resigned wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a big money deal he had always wanted. He will now no longer have a dreadful QB to rely on, as the Chiefs traded for former number one overall pick Alex Smith from the 49ers. He isn’t a gamebreaker, but he has finally become a solid QB these last two years. Also in the mix are youngsters Number one overall pick Eric Fisher will play RT as Brandon Albert remains at LT, giving the Chiefs nice protection.

On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs get back star safety Eric Berry after a major injury last season. If he regains form, he will bolster the backfield big time. Derrick Johnson holds the inside linebacking spot down, and corner Brandon Flowers now gets Sean Smith from the Dolphins to join him on the other end with Dunta Robinson handling the nickel. This could be one of the quicker drastically improved units, as the AFC West outside of Denver is a mess. And even they are going through offseason problems, such as the Von Miller suspension. It would not surprise me at all if the Chiefs made some noise and finished second in the division. They were just division champs in 2010.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders went 4-12 last year and might’ve gotten worse. They lost their starting quarterback Carson Palmer to the Cardinals, their leading receiver tight end Brandon Myers to the Giants, their leading tackler linebacker Philip Wheeler to the Dolphins, and punter Shane Lechler, who might be the best of all time at the position.  Their only real hope is 2011 supplemental draft pick quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who’s attempted all of thirty passes in two years. Luckily he’ll have some great weapons at his disposable but not really. This might be because their best receiver coming back is Marcel Reece, who is a fullback. The team also gave up on Darrius Heyward-Bey and let him go to the Colts. If their best player running back Darren McFadden stays healthy, they might have a chance at winning a couple games. The biggest off-season acquisition might be the return of Charles Woodson, who’s 36 years old and at the end of his career. There should be no reason for optimism this year for Raiders fan.

Broncos (12-4)Broncos (12-4)Broncos (12-4)Broncos (13-3)
Chiefs (6-10)Chiefs (9-7)Chiefs (7-9)Chiefs (8-8)
Chargers (4-12)Chargers (4-12)Raiders (3-13)Chargers (4-12)
Raiders (4-12)Raiders (2-14)Chargers (3-13)Raiders (2-14)
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