Monday 19 March 2018 / 02:30 AM

AFC West Preview

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos have the AFC West in their back pocket if they play up to their capabilities. But NFL seasons don’t generally go the way we think prior to the season.

Injuries, players not performing up to expectations and bad breaks could demolish any team in a short 16 game season.

Denver should receive a greater effort and fight from every team in the AFC West in 2013. Oakland hopes to improve with Matt Flynn at the helm. Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers made some bold moves this offseason including drafting Manti Te’o from Notre Dame. Kansas City is healthy this season with Andy Reid as their head coach and Alex Smith as their quarterback.

The AFC West features teams that are on the rise. Similar to the NFC West, we know how quickly things can around for a division. This division was awful last season, but we should expect a total 180 this year.

2012 AFC West Standings

  1. Denver Broncos (13-3)
  2. San Diego Chargers (7-9)
  3. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
  4. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)

Kansas City Chiefs

Andy Reid will turn the Kansas City Chiefs into a team nobody wants to play because they have a lot of first round talent on the team. Now, finally, they have somebody who can put it all together to make it excel.

The offense will be MUCH improved this season under the new system and with Alex Smith at the helm. I don’t think Smith is a top 10 quarterback in the league, but he knows how to win games. That’s all you can ask for.

He does so by not making mistakes. In 2011, Smith only threw five interceptions all season, a low for quarterbacks who started 16 games. He has only recorded 10 interceptions compared 30 touchdowns in the past two seasons.

The Chiefs needed a quarterback so they went out and got the best one available.

Combine Smith with the league’s 5th best rushing attack in 2012 and you will see an immense jump in their win total this campaign.

Prediction: 9-7

Oakland Raiders

Matt Flynn will finally get a chance to show us what he can do as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Two years ago, with Aaron Rodgers resting, Flynn went for six touchdowns against the Detroit Lions pathetic secondary.

He got a nice contract from Seattle because of that performance.

We will finally see whether or not he’s a star quarterback in the NFL because he will be under the microscope.

But I believe we already found out that he’s not going to be a star in the NFL.

Russell Wilson started over Flynn last season and it obviously was the best decision. However, Wilson was a rookie mid-round draft pick. Isn’t that slightly alarming?

Oakland goes as Flynn goes this season, and I don’t have enough evidence saying he can get the Raiders to a .500 record.

Prediction: 6-10

San Diego Chargers

Nearly every season in the Philip Rivers era, the Chargers have started off slow and heated up at the end. Last season, they were bad throughout.

But this season looks to be a different story.

They have gotten younger including drafting one of the best college prospects, Manti Te’o. They went out and got help for their terrible offensive line by grabbing former Steeler Max Starks in free agency and D.J. Fluker from Alabama’s amazing offensive line with their 1st pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

San Diego also added Ronnie Brown, one of the best dual threat running backs in the league. He will act similar to Darren Sproles, a guy who can do multiple things in the backfield with extreme consistency.

Finally, the Chargers added sack machine Dwight Freeney for their defensive line. When healthy, not many in the league can get after the quarterback like Freeney who has averaged nine sacks per season in the past five years.

San Diego made a real charge this offseason and I believe it will pay off.

Prediction: 10-6

Denver Broncos

Denver had the league’s 3rd ranked defense against the rush and 3rd ranked defense against the pass. They had one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Peyton Manning.

They went out and added Wes Welker and Monte Ball (via the draft) to bolster the offense.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could be a great addition on the defense if he can play up to his potential.

The Broncos certainly went out and improved in the offseason with the moves they made, and I think that the additions will be a major help this season.

Biggest storyline to watch to start the season: key losses defensively. Elvis Dumervil is in Baltimore now and Von Miller has a suspension to start the season.

In the first two games, the Broncos play the defending champion Ravens and the New York Giants. They need to at least split those two games and I think that they will because of Peyton Manning.

But he will need to play well without those two defensive stars. They can’t afford a 0-2 start.

Denver is set for a possible Super Bowl run. They are the only team in the division I see with a chance of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February.

Prediction: 12-4

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Justin Welton

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