"Psst... Look at that asshole who still wears sweatbands."
So when is the NFL going to start using relegation for the teams out west? Along with the NFC West, the AFC West is one of the two worst divisions in the game, and has been for some time. Despite a complete lack of a contender, someone has to come out of this division and take up a playoff spot. Here's my prediction:
4. Oakland Raiders
Al Davis' perennial basement dwellers will not be leaving their old stomping grounds. Since the 2002 season, in which the Raiders made it to the Super Bowl, the Raiders haven't had a winning season. In the past decade, they are 62-98. Despite getting rid of JaMarcus Russell, they still do not have the talent, coaching ability, or leadership to win more than 4 games.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
While Matt Cassel will definitely be a better QB in his third season than he was last year, there still just isn't enough in KC for this team to do anything. They have no real threat at wide receiver, their top running back in 4th rounder Jamaal Charles, and they have a patchwork offensive line. And unfortunately for the Chiefs, they aren't a team that's offensively depleted because they spend so much time on their defense. Last season they ranked 30th in total defense, only ahead of the Browns and Lions. It should be fun trying to watch them scratch and claw for 5 wins.
2. Denver Broncos
Josh McDaniels is a good coach. He can do wonders with an offense. But can he make Tim Tebow into a real QB? Can he make an offense work with Kyle Orton at the helm? With Elvis Dumervil out for over 4 months, and the fact that Champ Bailey can only cover half of the field at a time, how will the Broncos generate pressure? This team does have some bright spots, like Knowshon Moreno (when healthy) and a very solid O-Line. But at this point there are just too many question marks for me to see this team getting more than 8 wins.
1. San Diego Chargers
By default, San Diego will win this division. Despite having questions about some of their big names like Vincent Jackson and Shawn Merriman and their contracts and suspensions, the Chargers still have the most talent in this division. They will shine like Brian Scalabrine does when he plays a pickup game at the local YMCA. The Chargers have the best QB, Tight End, and defense in this division by far. They also have a dynamic tandem of Darren Sproles and first round pick Ryan Matthews at running back. Look for this team to go 9-7 (5-1 in their division, 4-6 outside of it).