NFL Divisional Preview: AFC West

A season ago, the AFC West belonged to the Denver Broncos. In saying that, the division came away with three teams advancing to the postseason. Due to a quick start from Kansas City, and a great finish from San Diego – there they sat. The Broncos eventually went on to win the AFC, but were not able to come away with a Super Bowl title. Peyton Manning is a year older, which is the biggest thing that could seperate him from being the super human quarterback he has been in the past. The division should still belong to Denver, but if they slip up, Kansas City and San Diego will be there to fight for a crown. Oakland looks to continue to rebuild.

Let’s start with the defending AFC champions. Denver featured the top passing game in all of the league. Manning led the NFL with 340 passing yards per game. His top weapons including Demaryius and Julius Thomas, along with Wes Welker. Many feel the emergence of Montee Ball will be huge for the Broncos offense. San Diego still is anchored by Phillips Rivers behind center. The Chargers passed for 270 yards per game. Ryan Matthews looks to pick up where he left off a season ago, as he rushed for 1,200+ yards and 6 touchdowns. The Chargers won their last four games a season ago to get into the playoffs. San Diego added former Notre Dame star Manti T’eo to the defense a season ago, this year adding Jason Verrett in the draft.

For Kansas City, they will once again rely on Alex Smith at quarterback. The Chiefs were a solid running team last season behind Jamaal Charles and his nearly 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns. Charles caught 7 touchdowns as well. Defensive end Dee Ford should up the front four of a defense that faltered a bit down the stretch. The Oakland Raiders went 4-12 a season ago and really were not great at any one year. In fact, they were poor at most areas. Khalil Mack was the top draft pick in the 2014 for Oakland, and they also drafted quarterback Derek Carr. The question is, will the rookie Carr play if the quarterbacks do not get the job done early. Oakland allowed nearly 260 yards of passing a season ago.

Denver opens the season on September 7th against the Indianapolis Colts at home. Kansas City starts at home against Tennessee, San Diego heads to Arizona in their season opener, while Oakland will travel to New York to take on the Jets. The first divisional games appear to be set for September 14th when the Broncos and Chiefs play. Denver plays San Diego October 23rd and December 7th and the final Kansas City/Denver game is slated for November 30th. The Broncos and Raiders meet in the season finale, while Kansas City and San Diego also meet. Some notable non conference games from the AFC West include Kansas City/St. Louis in state rivalry on October 26th, Kansas City/Seattle November 16th and Kansas City/San Francisco October 5th. Denver is at Seattle September 21st, at home against San Francisco October 19th, while the Chargers host Seattle in week 2 and head to San Francisco on December 20th, a rare Saturday game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *