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Old 05-01-2010, 08:39 PM    (permalink
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Default PMD's 2010 AFC West Thoughts

I've been thinking a lot about the division this year and figured I'd share my thoughts with draft now past us. I'm intending this to be as much of an open discussion as possible...

First: San Diego is going to be good this year. Really good.

For the last two seasons, the Chargers have been playing a rather schizophrenic offense. Prior to 2008, they had a pretty great formula of ball control. Keep the defense off the field, rack up the score early, force your opponent to throw to get back in the game, and blitz away. Unfortunately, 2008 they both lost their ball control factor when LT first started showing his age and their best passrusher when Merriman missed 15 games. That led to them basically airing out the ball at every oppourtunity, which meant the offense couldn't control the clock worth a damn and their defense wound playing a ridiculous number of snaps. That was Phillip Rivers' trial by fire, something he survived quite admirably. Now, after trading up for Ryan Matthews (a move I really like), the ball control should be back and will be complimented by a better passing game than I think I've ever seen from a Chargers team. Whether the pass rush shows up or not depends to be seen; Merriman's strength is uncertain and he's surrounded by relative unknowns. There's also a few holes on that defensive line which worry me. Cam Thomas has talent, but there's a reason he fell to the 5th: he wasn't all that great in college. Expecting him to come in and take over the NT spot from day 1 is a bit suspect. However, that offense should be able to put up points against just about anyone. San Diego should run away with the division and challenge for the #1 seed in the AFC.

Second: If Oakland wants to take a leap forward this year, they need to pick a quarterback and stick with him.

And that quarterback needs to not be JaMarcus Russell. You know things have gotten bad when Raider fans start thinking Russell might have turned a leaf and all it took was him showing up to a mandatory team event and hitting a few a passes. Making impressive throws in practice has never been his problem and I for one refuse to be fooled by him again. The offensive line at Oakland actually doesn't look half bad if the starters can stay healthy and on paper Michael Bush could be headed for his first 1,000 yard season. The entire receiving corps suffered from lack of experience last year, but DHB suffered far more from nerves than lack of talent and Chaz Schilens is a very underrated talent when he manages to stay on the field. The pieces for the offense to climb back to respectability are there, is my point. The main factor that could keep that from happening is inconsistency at quarterback. Anyone who watched the Raiders last year saw a completely different offense when Russell was under center and when Gradkowski was and it stemmed directly from their different personalities. Not a single person could argue that Gradkowski wasn't a massive improvement and he's probably well under average for a starter in this league. If the team gets Russell to take a paycut (it looks likely) and keeps him for 2010, they should still conduct a fair competition. If they do, I'd bet large sums of money that Jason Campbell wins it. If he does, he need to be the starter all year, even if he struggles. Period.

Third: Denver looks thoroughly mediocre.

I'm not sure what to think of Denver's offseason. The defense should still show up and play despite Nolan being sacked, but and old secondary is returning a year older and while I like Perrish Cox quite a bit, he's not a difference maker as a rookie. The team will generate pressure on the quarterback, but will that run defense hold up and can the offense possibly force teams to throw the ball late in games? I lean towards no on all these questions. I know a lot of Broncos fans are angry at the Tebow pick, but I think he could eventually turn into a pretty solid game manager for them. He's not ever going to be a greatly accurate passer, but maybe he could become a lesser Donovan McNabb for you guys down the road. That said, that won't happen in 2010 or even 2011. Same deal with Thomas. He's a top notch talent, probably on par with Dez Bryant, but he's no more developed than a guy like Devin Thomas was coming out of college, and we all know how long that pick took to start paying off for Washington. Josh McDaniels has said he drafts for potential, which is fine, but it raises a few questions when the team seems to have mortgaged their 2010 season for their 2013 season. Things could fall a lot of ways for Denver, so I don't want to write them off completely, but I have serious doubts that they'll do better than tie for 2nd in the division.

Fourth: Soctt Pioli is taking a risky gamble that his offensive and defensive lines will take large steps forward.

I didn't mind KC not taking an OL in the first round, but I'm not sure I understand them waiting until the 4th to take one. Similarly on defense, I saw no linebacker get drafted nor did I see some insurance should Glenn Dorsey not take to NT this year like they're assuming. Maybe the Chiefs are just wildly confident that they didn't need contingency plans, but that strikes me as potentially disasterous. They have skill players, to be sure. Flowers and Berry are great building blocks in the secondary and Charles and McCluster are versatile offensive threats, but I don't really see the base being strong enough to support these players this year. I could be wrong, but I think the Chiefs are going to be desperately looking to add to the trenches after this season.

My prediction for final standings are as follows...

1st: San Diego (12-4)
2nd: Oakland (8-8)
3rd: Denver (7-9)
4th: Kansas City (5-11)

I do think, however, that this is going to be one of the more competitive years in recent memory. The interdivision games are going to be a blast to watch.

Last edited by Paranoidmoonduck : 05-02-2010 at 03:53 AM.
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