Friday, September 7, 2012

2012 NFL Preview Part 4: AFC West

Greetings! Let's wrap up the AFC...
  1. San Diego Chargers (10-6) - I have no idea how I can make myself pick Norv Turner, but here we are. This pick is based on the fact that I firmly believe that Philip Rivers is a better player than he showed last year. In fact, he's the QB in this division that I trust the most (we'll get there), and with a healthy Antonio Gates this season, I think he bounces back huge. One huge add on defense is rookie Melvin Ingram, who should provide the pass rush they've been missing since Shawne Merriman fell off of the Earth. There's not a lot of conviction in this pick, but they still probably have the most talent in the division, and if you combine that with good QB play, it's hard to beat. 
  2. Denver Broncos (9-7) - If we knew Peyton Manning was PEYTON MANNING (in capital letters), then 9 wins isn't enough. But no one knows that. I'm going with the assumption that he'll be solid, though unspectacular (because of arm strength concerns), and that he'll play the majority of the games. The running game won't be pretty with McGahee but it'll be solid, and the receivers should leap forward with Manning directing their steps. On defense, they were flat-out bad at times last year overall, and were bad against the run all year. In a division where they see Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, and Jamaal Charles? That's bad. Anyway, the Tebow magic is gone, but Peyton would seem to be a good fit. 
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) - Matt Cassel isn't good. That's the concern for anyone giving KC a record over .500. That said, I don't think he's bad either, and he doesn't have to do too much. The Charles/Hillis backfield combo could be scary good, and both guys can catch the ball out of the backfield. Dwayne Bowe returns as a nice #1 on the outside, and there is support elsewhere too. On defense, Eric Berry is back, and should lead a fairly productive unit. If Cassel is the guy is the guy we saw two years ago (27 TDs, 7 INTs), then they'll win the division going away, but if he's just average, they'll compete for a playoff spot.
  4. Oakland Raiders (8-8) - I have no idea what to make of Oakland. Darren McFadden is one of the most electric players in the league.... but he can't stay on the field. Carson Palmer has a big arm, and they have plenty of downfield weapons... except we have no idea if they're any good (Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford). And defensively, there's some high-end talent with guys like Rolando McClain, but the depth isn't there after some bad drafts/lack of draft picks, and I'm not sure they'll be able to hold up. If everything goes right, and Carson Palmer turns into Carson Palmer from early Cincinnati, they'll be good, or if Darren McFadden goes for 2,000 yards (and he could, by the way), they'll be good, but I'll be safe and leave them in the basement.
It's the mediocrity division!

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