2012 NFL Preview: AFC West

Last season, all eyes were on the AFC West in the second half of the year. The man that brought all of that attention was traded to New York, but his replacement may bring even more attention. How far will he get them though?

1. Denver Broncos, Predicted Record: 11-5

I’m not huge on the Denver Broncos, and I don’t think they’re a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They are the best team in this division though, and the play of Peyton Manning in the preseason has to be something to be happy about. Still, I can’t get over the Manning injury and I have a hard time seeing him play every game this year. Another guy I don’t see lasting the whole year is Willis McGahee. In the Broncos run heavy offense last year, McGahee had 1,200 yards and 4 TD’s. McGahee has played 8 years though, and his production went down significantly as he got used more in the second half of the season. The hype out of Broncos camp though has been the play of WR’s Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker with Peyton Manning at QB. I think Decker is in for a big year, so don’t be surprised if he’s a Pro Bowler.

With Tebow at QB, the Broncos defense got a lot of the credit for the wins the team got. It even got Dennis Allen the head coaching job with the Oakland Raiders. While they played great at times, the Broncos defense wasn’t great last year and won’t be this year. In the last 5 games of the season(including playoffs), the Broncos D allowed 40 points 3 times. They have Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil in the pass rush, but outside of them and Champ Bailey the Broncos defense doesn’t have any great players. Still, it’s one of the better defenses a Peyton Manning lead team has had.

2. San Diego Chargers, Predicted Record: 9-7

I thought that the San Diego Chargers had some potential as a sleeper team to win the division, but they have suffered too many injuries and loses for me to go through with it. They lost Ryan Matthews to a broken collarbone and Vincent Brown to a broken ankle. Vincent Jackson left in free agency, and the rest of their offense is a lot of questions. I see Phillip Rivers having a bounce back season, but not good enough to carry this team to the playoffs this year. This should also be the last year of Norv Turner coaching the team, but that’s also what we thought last year.

3. Kansas City Chiefs, Predicted Record: 7-9

The Kansas City Chiefs get back their injury depleted roster from last year, but will they be the same players they were before they got hurt? I wouldn’t trust Jamaal Charles just yet. He tore his ACL early last year, but it’s an injury that usually takes longer than one season to recover from. I really like the addition of Peyton Hillis in the backfield though. They could surprise some people this year, but they need to stay healthy and need the best play out of Matt Cassel and their defense, who were about average in 2011.

4. Oakland Raiders, Predicted Record: 6-10

I like a lot of things about the Oakland Raiders. When Darren McFadden is healthy, he’s one of the 10 best RB’s in the league. They have fast, young WR’s who can make plays including Rod Streater who has been a pleasant surprise for them in the preseason. There’s one thing I really don’t like about them though, and it’s big enough to drag their offense down and make them a 6 win team. Carson Palmer is their QB. Carson Palmer is beyond washed up, and bringing him in was an awful mistake. Hopefully the new management realizes that after this year and this is his last season in Oakland. Because they have built a solid team around him.

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