Well, we are a little more than two months away from the 2012 season. We’re getting close to training camps, preseason, and of course, the annual slurry of articles and blogs of predictions for the upcoming year. With that in mind, I would like to get my predictions going. However, before I make any serious predictions, I thought I’d begin this series with an initial, impartial look at the AFC West.
The AFC West will be one of the most talked about divisions in all the league this year as Peyton ‘The Man’ning will be wearing orange. It will be interesting to see what he can do, especially if Tebow could lead that team to not only a division title last year, but a playoff victory. A lot of hype will be surrounding this team, and each loss will bring a lot of attention and scrutiny to Dove Valley. In my opinion, I see Denver being a victim of overly optimistic expectations, a weak offensive line, and an aging secondary.
So, if my theory is that the Broncos won’t live up to the hype, who in the West is going to take over? Let’s examine the possibilities:
The Kansas City Chiefs
Has anyone else noticed the rather high expectations and unjust optimistic outlook on the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs? Before Manning signed with Denver, pundits nation wide had this team winning the West. To that I ask a simple question: why?!
This is the same team that has Matt Cassel at quarterback. The man has done about as much in the NFL as Herbie Hancock did. Additionally, this team has a new head coach in Romeo Crennel. You know what the success rate of a coach in his first year is in taking his team to the playoffs? Well…neither do I, but common sense says it’s pretty low. Also, Romeo has a less than stellar pedigree – a 24-40 record in Cleveland. Tell me why again people are high on Romeo?
On a positive note for this team, I will say that their vanilla quarterback has some rather fun toppings to work with. See what I did there? I stuck with an ice cream theme. Anywho, the team has some talent at wide out (Bowe), tight end (the Benedict Arnold himself, Kevin Boss), and their loaded backfield (Dexter McCluster, Jamaal Charles, and Peyton Hillis). With all that in mind however, I just don’t see Cassell and the defensive minded coaching staff in KC rising to the occasion. In fact, I see KC having the worst record in the West this year.
The Oakland Raiders
So I said I would dissect the West from an unbiased stand point. We’ll see if I can do that.
Ok, so the Raiders enter the 2012 season after finishing the second straight 8-8 season. In each of the last two years the Raiders had a lot of supporters, and were even predicted to win the West by most analysts last year. As we all know, they came close, but in the end they not only lost in the division race, but they lost their coach after quite the rant. But, they were just a ½ game out of the playoffs. So close!
So, why is nobody talking about our boys this year? By most accounts, nobody has the Raiders winning the West. First, let’s discuss the reasons to be optimistic:
Carson enters his first full season as a starter with Oakland. And, he will finally have Run DmC to play with. That spells deliciousness to me. Additionally, he too has some toys to play with. The receiving corp is quite talented, and a full offseason working with Palmer should only help their chemistry.
The negatives – well, the more I think about them, the more I can list. They have a young, very inexperienced head coach. The rest of their staff has changed hands yet again. Their defensive backfield is both inexperienced and full of unknowns. And their receiving corp, outside of Louis Murphy, is as one dimensional as a loose leaf piece of paper – all of them are built on speed – no power wideouts. And that is something that I worry about. I mean, take it from Randy Moss, you gotta be able to take the top off the defense.
So, even with reasons to be optimistic about our boys, we are going to see a lot of growing pains in Oak Town this year. Unfortunately, I do see these growing pains holding us back from a division crown in 2012. But, and not to let the cat out of the bag, that doesn’t mean I don’t see the Raiders in the playoffs this year.
However, no division crown for OakTown, means only one thing as once again, the San Diego Chargers will be taking the West.
The San Diego Chargers
As I see it, it’s almost a certainty that the Bolts win the West this year. Think about it: for the most part they still have all the pieces in tact from their years of reign atop the West; and nobody is talking about them. Offensively, Philip Rivers is still at the top of his game, Ryan Matthews only stands to get better, and they still have Antonio Gates. Naysayers may point to them losing Vincent Jackson in the off-season as a worry, but I would counter with them picking up Eddie Royal.
I know my reasoning for the Chargers isn’t iron clad, but they’ve been too good for too long to discount them now. Their time is coming to an end, but at least not in 2012.
That’s it for now, but look forward (or maybe not forward) to my possibly exhaustive predictions for what is to come in 2012.