To start off my pre training camp divisional predictions I will start with the Chargers very own division, the AFC west. The factors that go into winning a division can be decided by numerous things. I often say that usually the season comes down to who makes it through the violent marathon the healthiest as injuries can shape and or derail teams and sometimes the entire landscape of a league and or in this case a division. Much hype goes into how a team will perform and every team seems to have nothing but the highest of hopes before the season starts. Often times the hype is built around the previous season’s performance along with off season additions. Truth is not all prospects or free agents workout. So how a team may look on paper is otherwise meaningless. It is my opinion that this division has the makings and potential to be arguably the best in the league. I honestly think every team in the west is capable of being scary but here is how I see it ending up.
- Los Angeles Chargers (11-5)
- Oakland Raiders (10-6)
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-8)
- Denver Broncos (7-9)
Now a lot of people will disagree with this or even say I’m a homer and I’m not surprised. However I have my reasons and I believe this division will come down to the Raiders and the Bolts. Most people will be astonished to see Kansas City in third as there is a lot of hype behind the successor at quarterback (Mahomes) along with the success of the team last year. I just have a hunch that the change of play caller along with a good amount of turnover on the defensive side of the ball might be too much of an adjustment. It will also be a hard task for Hunt to repeat the type of breakout rookie season he had, not that it couldn’t happen. Denver remains a great defensive team and essentially replaced and or upgraded the positions of need on that side of the ball. On the other side they brought in quarteback Case Keenum. While he isn’t exactly a giant he will bring much more stability to the offense that desperately needed some. They also added a very under rated running back in the draft in Royce Freeman from Oregon who holds almost all school rushing records now. Although I could also see how KC and Denver could be flipped when it’s all said and done . When it comes to oak town most people will point to the fact that the defense is still far off. Last season it definitely was however coach Gruden made a smart decision to start the improvement process by heavily addressing the trenches on both sides. They potentially have two sleepers at defensive tackle that could make the world of difference, and a lot will hinge on how they pan out. Moving Bruce Irving back to defensive end rather than linebacker will pay dividends in my opinion. They also added a key piece that Kansas City lost in middle linebacker Derrick Johnson. Offensively they upgraded Carr’s arsenal of weapons by adding the ageing Jordy Nelson. However the move that seemed to fly under the radar for whatever reason that will play a huge factor is the acquisition of Martavis Bryant from the Steelers. The Raiders did the most upgrading on both sides of the ball. When it comes to the Bolts most non Charger fans will say I’m being overly optimistic, however they were only a good kicker away from being an 11-12 win team. To add to that the team is essentially adding two years’ worth of draft picks this year as the team’s first and second round pick where a non-factor due to injury. Not to mention this year’s draft was focused on making this defense possibly one of the best in the league. If the team’s defensive play ends up as dominating as some think they are capable of then they will be a force to be reckoned with. The only question that remains is did they do enough to address the kicker position.