Who do you think will win the AFC West in 2009?
- San Diego Chargers (100%, 3 Votes)
- Denver Broncos (0%, 0 Votes)
- Kansas City Chiefs (0%, 0 Votes)
- Oakland Raiders (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 3
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are the only team in the NFL who have won their division in each of the last three seasons. It appears that a 4th straight AFC West crown is almost guaranteed. They return essentially their full high powered offense and have one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league. Last season, in his third year as a starter, QB Philip Rivers established himself as one of the few who could challenge to join Brady and Manning’s elite QB class. The defense vastly improved as the season went along, following a rare midseason firing of former defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. This defensive resurgence prompted a late season charge last year that saw the Chargers win their final 4 games to steal the division and beat the Colts in the playoffs. A full season under new Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera and a return of Shawn Merriman should combine with the 2nd highest scoring offense in the NFL from last year to coast to another division title.
QB: Philip Rivers – 4,009 passing yards, 34 TD’s, 11 INTs, 105.5 passer rating
RB: LaDanian Tomlinson – 292 attempts, 1,110 rushing yards, 11 TD’s
WR: Vincent Jackson – 59 Reception, 1,098 receiving yards, 7 TD’s
Projected Record – 12-4
Al Davis has a way of always making things interesting in Raider land. For five straight years the Raiders have struggled and had only four or five wins each season. Yet Mr. Davis refuses to change his philosophy, and crazy stories seem to rule the day. First, only four games into last season was the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin. Then, this preseason, new head coach Tom Cable is accused of breaking an assistants jaw. In between, the Raiders had one of the most negatively scrutinized drafts thanks to over reaching for speedy receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. The Raiders can run the ball very effectively most Sundays. They also very effectively stop the pass on defense. However, their passing game (last in the NFL) and rush defense are terrible (2nd worst). As the recent trade for former Patriot Richard Seymour shows, the Raiders will at least make changes and always keep you guessing. Will it be enough to get over the 4-5 win hump?
QB: JaMarcus Russell – 2,423 Passing yards, 13 TD’s, 8 INT’s, 77.1 passer rating
TE: Zach Miller – 56 receptions, 778 Yards, 1 TD
RB: Darren McFadden – 113 attempts, 499 yards, 4 TD’s
Projected Record – 6-10
2008 ended badly for the Broncos. They led the Chargers by three games with three to play but ended up losing all of them (including the finale to SD, thus losing the division on the final day). Unfortunately, the drama did not end there as the collapse cost Mike Shanahan his job after fourteen years at the helm in Denver. Josh McDaniels was brought in from New England to get the Broncos pointed in the right direction. Hiring the thirty-three year old was questionable to begin with, as he had an offensive background and the Bronco offense (2nd in the league in 2008) was not the problem — the defense was (29th in the league in 2008). McDaniels further complicated things with an ugly trade of former franchise QB Jay Cutler (though he, too, shares some blame). This brought in new QB Kyle Orton, who already less talented, is now injured heading into the season. To further complicate matters, star receiver Brandon Marshall has already been suspended and more fireworks seem to be coming. Denver could improve from the roster overhaul that has begun or this could get really ugly this year.
QB: Kyle Orton – 2,972 yards, 18TD’s, 12 INT’s, 79.6 rating (with the Chicago Bears in 2008)
WR: Brandon Marshall – 104 receptions, 1,265 yards, 6 TD’s
WR: Eddie Royal – 91 receptions, 980 yards, 5 TD’s
Projected Record – 5-11
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are trying to find their way back to respectability in the NFL. Head Coach Herm Edwards was fired after a disastrous final two years where Kansas City won four games in 2007 and only two in 2008. Not much went right last year, including setting a new NFL record for least number of sacks in a season, accumulating just ten in sixteen games. Todd Haley, fresh from running the Arizona Cardinals offense last year, was brought in for his first head coaching gig. He quickly brought in his own Defensive Coordinator and installed the 3-4 defense. Oddly, with less than two weeks until the first game he also fired former Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey. At least he is decisive and willing to implement the changes he feels necessary. However, until the talent level is raised and starts matching the schemes he intends to use, it could be a long few years at Arrowhead. Hopefully Haley is still around to see the changes pay off.
QB: Matt Cassell – 3,693 yards, 21 TD’s, 11 INT’s, 89.4 rating (with the New England Patriots in 2008)
WR: Dwayne Bowe – 86 receptions, 1,022 yards, 7 TD’s
RB: Larry Johnson – 193 attempts, 874 yards, 5 TD’s
Project Record – 3-13
Title image credits: Niels Timmer and q83
Ben Loux is father of two and husband of one (it works well that way). He makes his home in the Rochester, NY, area.