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2014 AFC West Preview

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Another top heavy season from the AFC West. The Broncos are clearly the heavy favorite but the Chargers have some hype surrounding them heading into the season. In all likelihood this division will provide just the one playoff team but they could have a couple teams vying for a wildcard spot down the stretch of the season.



4. Oakland Raiders (35-1 to win the division)

The Raiders are once again going to be amongst the bottom feeders in the NFL. While they signed some wily vets like LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck on the defensive side of the ball, who knows how much they have left in the tank. On the offensive side of the ball they went out and grabbed Maurice Jones-Drew but ultimately how much are those guys going to help them? With Matt Schaub at the helm they might be even worse than last year where they finished with the 23rd ranked offense and the 22nd ranked defense. Their defense should be a little bit better but that won’t help them on the whole because that offense is going to be really bad and it will eventually wear out their defensive group. Their schedule doesn’t help them out either since they will be going up against the NFC West. They could be a prime candidate for the #1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft.

How They’ll Finish: 3-13

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)

The Chiefs are going to have one hell of a difficult time replicating what they did on the field a year ago. They lost some key contributors on the defensive side of the ball and their offensive line is going to struggle. They are going to need Jamaal Charles to run wild for that offense to keep them in games. They will need that west coast offense to continue to get him in space with a chance to break out some big plays, otherwise they might end up competing with the Raiders for the better draft position.

How They’ll Finish: 6-10

2. San Diego Chargers (+550)

The Chargers have some hype surrounding them despite not really making a splash in the offseason. Philip Rivers has been able to make some of his supporting cast look better than they may actually be but they aren’t all that deep, so it is very important that they stay healthy. The offense should continue to click this season but they are going to need Ryan Mathews to continue to improve and avoid the injury bug. On the defensive side, they are going to need to improve on their pass defense which ranked 29th last season and the addition of Brandon Flowers should help some, but they really need someone else to step up to really improve that secondary.

How They’ll Finish: 8-8

1. Denver Broncos (-360)

How do they not run away with this division again? Sure they might not be as deep as last year, but their top end talent is better than last season. Aqib Talib and Emmanuel Sanders should be better than the combination of Champ Bailey and Eric Decker even though Decker broke out as a go to guy for Manning. Peyton may have relied on Decker quite a bit but he can make a lot of guys look better than they are and Emmanuel Sanders should be good enough to fill that hole. The addition of Talib should be a big boost over Champ Bailey’s aging self but they also lost Rodgers-Cromartie so they are going to need Talib to stay healthy and really lock down one side of the field to make that secondary better than last year. One way to help out the secondary will be getting to the quarterback which is why they went out and signed DeMarcus Ware. I’m not sure how teams are going to manage blocking Ware and Von Miller off the right side at the same time.

The biggest question mark on the roster is at the running back position. People are really high on Montee Ball heading into this season but I’m not sure I can see why. Sure playing alongside Peyton Manning is going to help but he still hasn’t figured out how to block for Manning which isn’t going to help gain Manning’s confidence in him. His numbers weren’t too bad last year averaging 4.7 yards per carry but he lost some key fumbles and never really broke through in the depth chart. I just am not ready to call him a feature back, I think he has a lot still to prove.

The schedule is certainly not going to be easy with the NFC West on the slate as well as a trip to New England which will be a third consecutive home game for the Pats. Regardless the Broncos are a Super Bowl contender and we should expect another stellar season out of that offense.

How They’ll Finish: 12-4


Monday, September 1, 2014

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