We start our first divisonal breakdown of the 2008 season with the AFC West, a division with really one power, one team trying to get back into playoff contention, another trying to be competitive, and another in rebuild mode. With that, here is our look at the AFC West and how it’s going to go in the 08 campaign.
1. San Diego Chargers 11-5: Last season I had the Chargers as my Super Bowl pick, and even after getting blasted with injuries in the playoffs, they showed how good they were by beating the Colts and giving the Patriots a scare in the AFC Title game. It will be much of the same in 2008, as they will again be very explosive on offense with LaDainian Tomlinson rushing for about 1,500 yards, and QB Philip Rivers also having a good season under center. The defense, if they can stay healthy, is one of the best, and again, I can see the Chargers being within 1-2 games of making it to the big game in Tampa Bay.
2. Denver Broncos 9-7: It was pretty much rock bottom for Denver last season, going 7-9 and missing the playoffs. This year they will be in the hunt, as they have a good mix of talent, and a good coach that is not going to allow them to lay down for anyone. While so far the running backs have been less than impressive in training camp, look for them to get back to form on the ground, and for Jay Culter to have a good season and for this team to make a wild card run late in December.
3. Oakland Raiders 7-9: The Raiders have the makings of a team that is going to be able to run the ball well in a year or two, and if JaMarcus Russell can live up to the hype, this can be an up and coming team. They worked hard during the offseason to address the defense, and if Al Davis would just let Lane Kiffin do his job, this team is going to give some teams around the league some headaches this year, and possibly be in the hunt next year in the division.
4. Kansas City Chiefs 5-11: KC is trying to turn over the roster and re-tool as they also try to stay competitive, and last season they found out how tough that was, going 4-12. Brodie Croyle is being given the ball, and if he fails, this team will be QB shopping next year in the draft. Glenn Dorsey is a guy that will eventually make a difference on defense, and Larry Johnson can run still with the best of them. Despite all that, they don’t have a ton of playmakers, and will be overmatched most Sundays.