Friday, September 9, 2011

NFL 2011 Preview: AFC West

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-Digger's Daily-

Kansas City was one of a few surprise teams in 2010. Can they improve on last year's success? When will San Diego learn to win early season games? One of football's most talented teams on paper often begins slowly (began 2-5 in '10). Oakland and Denver trying for returns to respectability.

1 - Kansas City Chiefs
Offense: KC is defending AFC West champion. Chiefs came out of nowhere. Offense is talented. QB Matt Cassel is solid. RB's Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones create a tough backfield tandem each capable of 100 yard performances. Bowe is their star WR. Don't be surprised if KC repeats as West champ.
Defense: Young, smart, fast and maturing at nearly all positions. Young group getting better - quickly.
Prediction: Repeat West champs. 10-11 wins. Well balanced team.

2 - San Diego Chargers
Offense: Talented but often out of synch. Phillip Rivers misses LaDainian Tomlinson. If he doesn't then he should. RB Ryan Matthews was largely ineffective as a rookie before getting injured. Solid receiving corps, one of NFL's best TE, solid line. Sproles will be sorely missed as third down receiving back and special teams player.
Defense: Not a prime time defense gives up too many late drives. No matter these guys finished near the top of all statistical categories - they still lost 5 of their first 7.
Prediction: Every year prognosticators write glowing reviews and saying these guys have Super potential. Problems is Chargers sputter. Maybe they finally get it rolling after under performing years. 9-11 wins.

3 - Oakland Raiders
Offense: QB Jason Campbell came alive for the first time in career late last season after disappointing for years in Washington. Speedy WR's need to stretch the field - and catch the pigskin. RB McFadden is a threat to score every time he catches the ball - as long as his linemen stay out of his way! Campbell must not return to Washington ways or this team is in trouble.
Defense: Getting better but still making stupid penalties in key situations. Expect more improvement again in '10. When's the last time anybody said improvement while talking Raiders football.
Prediction: Raiders could become 2011 Cinderella team. Not many expecting big things. Chargers prone to slow beginnings. Chiefs can be beaten. .500 season as of now. Don't be surprised if these guys walk away with division crown.

4 - Denver Broncos
Offense: Kyle Orton vs Tim Tebow in pre-season. Orton is opening day QB. He's a nice fantasy QB building up yards based on playing form behind. In real life - it's a headache watching missed 3rd down passes. Really not a fan of anyone on this offense. Often injured, receivers give up on routes, RB's can't pound the ball, suspect play calling. These guys are a long way from Shanahan football.
Defense: One of league's worst - not showing any early signs of improvement. Another team changing formations. 3-4 is out in favor of 4-3. Build a wall instead.
Prediction: Repeat 4-12 season might be a stretch.

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