Hello again football fans, this is my eighth and final installment in breaking down the NFL and it will be on the AFC West division. I will again be taking a look at each teams offense, defense, and providing my predictions for their order of finish in the 2013 season.
- Offense: Peyton Manning continues to defy the odds and not let age and injuries affect his play. The Broncos will eventually have to address this situation but will enjoy him while they got him playing at a high level. Wes Welker was added to the receiving corps to go along with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. The running game will be entrusted to a couple of young backs in Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman due to the release of Willis McGahee for health reasons. Holdover Knowshon Moreno will also provide depth at the position. Injuries have held Moreno back and not allowed him to show why he was drafted in the first round a couple of years ago. The Broncos again have the chance to be very explosive on offense with the new additions and returning players.
- Defense: The defense ranked number 2 last year but lost Elvis Dumervil in the off season. The defensive ends will be Robert Ayers and Derek Wolfe. The tackles will be Terrance Knighton and Kevin Vickerson. Sylvester Williams was drafted out of North Carolina to provide competition and depth. Nate Irving will be at middle line backer and he will be flanked by Von Miller and Wesley Woodyard. The secondary will consist of Champ Bailey and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie at the corners and Mike Adams and Rahim Moore at the safeties.
Kansas City Chiefs:
- Offense: The Chiefs acquired Alex Smith from the 49ers during the off-season to manage the offense in Andy Reid’s first season. Smith will be a serious upgrade to what they have had at quarterback in Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. He will be throwing to Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Anthony Fasano, and Travis Kelce. Jamaal Charles returns at running back after having run for 1509 yards and 5 touchdowns last year.
- Defense: The Chiefs will be in 3-4 defense, with Dontari Poe at nose, Tyson Jackson and Mike Devito at the ends. The linebacker position will be headlined by Tamba Hali. Justin Houston will line up across from him. Derrick Johnson is going to be at one inside spot, with several players vying for the other inside backer position. The secondary, will have Sean Smith and Brandon Flowers at the corners, with Kendrick Lewis and Eric Berry at the safeties.
- Offense: Matt Flynn was acquired from the Seattle Seahawks. With Russell Wilson firmly entrenched as the starter for the Seattle, this will give Flynn another chance at a starting job. Tyler Wilson was also drafted to provide depth and competition at the quarterback position. Breaking in a new starter, the Raiders will probably be very conservative on offense. Expect Darren McFadden to get a lot of carries this year if he can stay healthy. Whoever starts at quarterback, will be throwing to Denarious Moore and Rod Streater. This offense may have trouble moving the ball this season because of all the new pieces, especially at quarterback.
- Defense: The Raiders struggle at rushing the passer. The starters at defensive end Lamarr Houston and Andre Carter only had 7 sacks last year and sorely need improvement in this area. The tackles are Pat Sims and Vance Walker. The linebackers will be Nick Roach with Kevin Burnett and Sio Moore on the outside. The secondary will have Usama Young and Tyvon Branch at the safeties and D.J. Hayden and Tracy Porter at the corners. Hayden, drafted in the first round, suffered a near fatal injury to his heart his last year with the University of Houston. He also recently had surgery on his abdomen. Charles Woodson was brought back to the team to provide depth in the secondary.
San Diego Chargers:
- Offense: The problems the Chargers have on offense is protecting Philip Rivers and giving him a consistent running game. Ryan Matthews has trouble staying healthy and really has not provided much when he is. Danny Woodhead was signed on to provide depth in the backfield. Rivers does have Antonio Gates to throw too, as well as a receiving corps made up of Denario Alexander, Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown and Malcolm Floyd. If the Chargers can not keep Rivers upright it does not matter who he has in the backfield or can throw to down field.
- Defense: The defense lost linebacker Melvin Ingram before the season even begins. They did go out and get Dwight Freeney and it is hoped he still has enough in the tank to give the team a consistent pass rush. Jarrett Johnson will line up across from him. Donald Butler and Manti Teo look to hold down the inside spots. Upfront will be Corey Liuget, Kendall Reyes, and Cam Thomas. Derek Cox and Shareece Wright will be the corners with Eric Weddle and Brandon Taylor the safeties.
My predictions for the order of finish in the division will be as follows:
1. Denver Broncos
2. San Diego Chargers
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Oakland Raiders
As always, disagree or agree, let us know in the comments.