Friday, September 7, 2007
AFC West Preview
All right folks, time to squeeze in a couple of posts before the old girlfriend smothers every second of my weekend from me. I apologize in advance if this preview is a little short and half-assed. Maybe not.
San Diego Chargers (2006: 14-2) -- For all intents and purposes, the Chargers are supposed to be 2007's defending champions. They stormed through the regular season in '06, despite basically starting a rookie quarterback in third year man Philip Rivers. LaDanian Tomlinson put up record-breaking numbers for TDs (31) and won the league's MVP award. They were even up late on the Patriots at home in the AFC Divisional Round. Then a couple of dropped passes here, a few mistakes by the secondary there, and you had the obligatory Marty Schottenheimer playoff collapse. San Diego will still be a regular season beast behind LT and Antonio Gates, but they barely addressed their wide receiver issues and Norv Turner has replaced Schottenheimer as the postseason choker du jour.
Denver Broncos (2006: 9-7) -- After missing the postseason last year, Denver enters 2007 in unfamiliar territory: as a playoff sleeper. The defense is still stacked, with Dre' Bly joining lock-down corner Champ Bailey on the edges and the always brick-wall linebacking trio (D.J. Williams, Ian Gold, Nate Webster) and first-round pick defensive end Jarvis Moss. The Broncos also added former Titans back Travis Henry to the fold. The wild card is if second-year QB Jay Cutler can live up to his potential and if this team can get past the tragedies to two of their former teammates (Darrent Williams, Damien Nash).
Oakland Raiders (2006: 2-14) -- The defense, which was the Raiders' only bright spot last season, returns and the offense improves. Dominic Rhodes, who played a big role in the Colts' Super Bowl victory in February, comes to a team that is badly in need of a running game. Daunte Culpepper signed on in Oaktown to pave the way for number 1 pick JaMarcus Russell, who still hasn't signed yet.
Kansas City Chiefs (2006: 9-7) -- The Chiefs, to me, are battling Cleveland for the right to draft Arkansas' Darren McFadden or Tennessee's Erik Ainge next April. Larry Johnson is due for a season-ending injury because of the workload he received last year and will be subjected to in '07. Damon Huard + Brodie Croyle = a long season. If you have two quarterbacks, you have none. The defense shouldn't even be discussed here.
Division Champs: Chargers