The AFC West should return to form in 2011 following a surprising 2010 season, provided there is a season to play.
Call it a hunch, but the Kansas City Chiefs are going to have a difficult time repeating as division champions. Heck, they’re going to have a difficult time staying out of the AFC West basement.
Forget who is on the roster, the Chiefs’ offense will be missing one of their biggest components next season in departed coordinator Charlie Weis.
Weis returned to the college game, becoming the new offensive coordinator at the University of Florida, cutting short his reunion with Matt Cassel to a single season. Under the former Notre Dame leader’s guidance, Cassel had his finest years as a pro.
So if not the Chiefs, who?
The San Diego Chargers. Not exactly going out on a limb there.
Following a disappointing 2010 campaign, the Chargers and Norv Turner are poised to return atop the AFC West standings.
The key for San Diego is to avoid digging themselves into another early season whole. And if they do, will they leave themselves enough time to dig out of it?
The wild card at play is Steve Smith. The Carolina Panthers receiver wants to be traded to either the Chargers or the Oakland Raiders.
Should Smith land in San Diego an early season slump seems less likely. Should he land in Oakland, however, the Raiders could sneak in and pull off a surprising division championship.
Oakland’s biggest concern is not who is under center. Rather, it’s the offensive line itself that needs to be addressed before anything else. Much of that concern was squashed when the team drafted Stefen Wisniewski.
Bruce Campbell is in line for a shot in the starting lineup although he is an unproven commodity at this point.
Say what you will about his performance, but the departure of Robert Gallery hurts. He was a staple that Campbell will try to replace.
As for the Nnamdi Asomugha factor. . . it’s hard to predict exactly how much his departure will effect the secondary. The team managed to hold their own during his injury absence last season. While it’s certainly not a “much ado about nothing” situation, it could be a little “less ado about Nnamdi.”
During a recent radio interview on ESPN Hawaii I said the Raiders could go 9-7 next season. I stand by that.
Then there are the Denver Broncos who are in full on rebuilding mode. A new head coach, a new front office and from all signs a new quarterback.
It’s always an uphill climb when you hold the second overall pick in the draft. There is a lot of work to do, but to their credit, the Broncos, John Elway and John Fox have solidly begun undertaking the process.
Tim Tebow appears to be the new starter and the team is reportedly is willing to deal Kyle Orton. Hello Arizona?
Rebuilding takes time and unless they have a miracle up their sleeves, they are destined for a third place finish this season.
So, without further ado here are my official 2011 AFC West predictions.
- San Diego Chargers 11-5
- Oakland Raiders 9-7
- Denver Broncos 6-10
- Kansas City 6-10
Post your predictions below in the comment section.