The AFC West is a solid division with two teams that are expected to be playoff contenders, one that should be .500 or possibly better, and a team out in Oakland that with a new coach and quarterback should be better than last year and on their way to becoming competitive again. Nevertheless, the division should still go the way of the San Diego “Super” Chargers, and despite the questions of having a new coach, this is still one of the most talented teams in the league. Here is our breakdown of the AFC West.
San Diego 2007 Prediction: 12-4 – All new coach Norv Turner should have to do is get out of the way of this talented bunch of players, as this team is good enough to take care of business each Sunday on their own. They should not have to change the system all that much, as the basic game plan is to get the ball into the hands of LaDainian Tomlinson, and for QB Philip Rivers to make smart plays and not turn the ball over. The WR core is a little suspect, and after 14 wins a year ago, the Chargers have to be aware that this is a new year, and cannot live off of last years great record. The first four games – vs Chicago, at New England, at Green Bay and vs Kansas City will be a good indication of how good this team is.
Denver 2007 Prediction 10-6 – The Broncos last season inserted their QB of the future in Jay Cutler, and in what could have been chalked up as a year of transition, the team still was within a three-point loss in the last game of the year of making the playoffs. This year after the team had to deal with the deaths of both Darrent Williams and Damien Nash, Denver will play the 2007 season in their honor, and should be a playoff team once again. They got themselves another solid running back in Travis Henry, and WR Brandon Stokley and TE Daniel Graham will help Cutler and the passing game. Cutler was solid in his time on the field last year, throwing 9 TD’s and five picks, and should be better in 2007. Expect the Broncos to be back to form.
Kansas City 2007 Prediction 7-9 – Herm Edwards and the Chiefs could be one of those teams that takes the first two months of the season just to get set with their own personal and system. They will have a new starter at QB, likely to be Brodie Croyle, and will look for wide outs Sammie Parker and rookie Dwayne Bowe to make some plays to help out workhorse back Larry Johnson. The Chiefs need to get Johnson in the fold before a lengthy holdout of camp draws a distraction. The teams 16th ranked defense also needs to get better, as they were 18th against both the pass and run last year. They won’t backdoor into the playoffs this year.
Oakland 2007 Prediction 5-11 – Much like Vince Young last year, #1 pick JaMarcus Russell will make some SportsCenter highlights, and make the future look bright for the silver and black, once he starts. Beyond Russell and a free agent class that included former Colts back Dominic Rhodes, the Raiders are still quite a few players away from being a force in the division or the conference. Daunte Culpepper under center should be interesting for ahwile. Lane Kiffin’s job in his first year in Oakland is to groom Russell, and rebuild the Raiders past the label of laughing stock. They did have the #1 defense against the pass last year, a ranking that should stay steady and keep them around in games in 2007.