(Quick Thank You to Brittany over at Unexpected Surprises for featuring me today! So excited!!)
It's that wonderful time of year again! For the ladies, this means your husband turns into a mindless vegetable sitting on the couch every Sunday eating food so unhealthy the dog politely declined it. For the men, it's football season (And to a lesser extent, to the fathers, it's also the-kids-are-finally-back-in-school/activities-and-out-of-your-way season).
Football was invented by god to let us comfortably have man-crushes while geeking out on stats and numbers nobody really cares about.
For the next few days, I'm going to preview each division in the NFL and give predictions. Today, I start with the AFC West, Home of my San Diego Chargers.
The Broncos are historically a pass-oriented, offensive football team. This was primarily an effect of the fact that John Elway (greatest QB in NFL History) was at the helm from 1984 - 1999. The guy went to 5 Super Bowls, willing them on his own to the first 3. However, since his retirement, Denver has had to deal with the likes of Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, Jay Cutler and Kyle Orton. All guys who I wouldn't pick to play QB in a pick-up flag football league, let alone the NFL. The Broncos have some problems.
The Broncos offense took some heavy losses this off-season and training camp. They traded one of the best receivers in the NFL in Brandon Marshall to Miami, immediately making them relevant. They then went and drafted Tim Tebow, another awful QB, in the 1st round of the draft with future star receiver Dez Bryant still available. In Training Camp, they lost both starting RB's to injury and now are going with a guy from the practice squad.
Of course, Denver's O-line, thanks to a great zone-blocking scheme, produces 1,000 yard rushers like Antonio Cromartie produces children. However, without any kind of passing game, (TE Tony Scheffler is getting old) the Broncos are going to have lot's of trouble scoring points.
The Broncos are a slightly above average Defensive team, though losing sacks leader Elvis Dumervil is going to take a huge toll this season. They play decent pass coverage, but with Champ Bailey aging, they can't keep relying on his athletic ability. Needless to say, this could be a long year in the Mile High City.
6-10, 4th in the AFC West.
In recent history, the Chiefs have been known more as Kansas Shitty than anything else. To be blunt, they've been terrible. However, this year looks like a possible breakout season. With QB Matt Cassell having a year under his belt, RB Jamaal Charles running all over the field and Dwayne Bowe as one of the better young WR's in the game, KC is moving in the right direction. Not to mention the fact that they re-staffed the team with what was essentially New England's four-Super Bowl winning coaching staff. This is an offense that is going to be fun to watch and will sneak up on some very good teams.
Though the offense is going to be improved, the Defense has a few more steps to take before we call this team a contender. Drafting Safety Eric Berry was huge and he'll be a vocal leader out there on the field, but the D-line needs to get pressure on the QB more consistently, while the Linebacking corps needs to be able to stop the run occasionally.
This is a playoff team and Super Bowl contender...in 3 years.
8-8, 3rd in the AFC West.
The most hated team in football (at least for me) is the Raiders. Usually staffed with thugs and behavior issue guys, (not to mention the fact that their fans can't go 15 minutes without rioting) the Raiders have been terrible since 2002. However, they are much improved this year and could challenge for a playoff spot. At QB, releasing Jamarcus "Purple Drank" Russell was a long overdue move. They traded for Jason Campbell, who is a solid, though unspectacular QB who will be an enormous upgrade (At this point, I would have a better QB rating than Jamarcus) and a huge boost to their offense.
The offensive line is solid, they have 2 potential 1,000 yard rushers in the backfield and very good Tight End in Heath Miller. The only concern is the WR corps. Staffed by 3 2nd year guys, two of which did nothing last year, in addition to a few new faces, the Raiders have no proven receiver. Jason Campbell will find Heath Miller and Darren McFadden can be a scat back occasionally, but if the Raiders want to be considered a contender and make the playoffs for the first time in 8 years, they need the receivers to step up.
Though I hate them, I have no problem admitting that Oakland has one of the better Defenses in the NFL. This team can simply shut you down. Denver and KC will have a very hard time in their meetings this year, though San Diego has too many weapons for any D outside of Baltimore. The Defense will keep this team in games, and if the offense can capitalize, this could be the year the Raiders return to prominence.
10-6, 2nd AFC West, Wild Card berth
And now we come to the class of the AFC West, the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers are absolutely loaded on offense. QB Philip Rivers is in the MVP discussion, their enormous receivers are not only all over 6'3", they are big, physical and fast. TE Antonio Gates is one of the best of all-time. Rookie RB Ryan Mathews is going to be an enormous improvement over the aging Ladanian Tomlinson from last season. RB Darren Sproles is one of the shiftiest, quickest guys out there and will be used as a scatback often by Coach Norv Turner. The offensive line if not flashy, but they are hard-working guys who get their jobs done, and done well. This team can potentially put up 30+ points per game with little trouble.
The Defense, a weakness last season, is going to be much improved. The secondary is far more physical than in previous years, the linebacking corps is stacked with Shawne Merriman back, and the D-Line looks like they may have found 2 diamonds in the rough in Antonio Garay and Cam Williams. The Chargers need to get over the hump in the playoffs and bring a Super Bowl title to San Diego. If they can stay healthy this year, they're my favorite to win it all.
13-3, 1st AFC West, #1 seed in AFC.
Tomorrow, I'll preview the NFC West.....