With the move the Raiders made, the consistency of the Chargers, the declining Broncos, and the Chiefs rebuilding the west will be a little more competitive this year than it was last but not the way you might expect. It breaks down like this:
- Chargers: 10-6, Division Title, Playoffs. They are the most talented team in the division but talent and with their performance last year I expect nothing less than a winning season. There are some question marks though. As of right now starting center Nick Hardwick just had surgery and may be out at the beginning of the season, starting QB Philip Rivers tore his ACL at the end of the season and we have seen how that injury can affect QB play, Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper. It generally takes two years to be completely healthy. Starting TE Antonio Gates had surgery on his toe recently. Starting NT Jamal Williams will also be having both of his knees worked on and may miss time at the beginning of the season. So they will jump on the back of LT and a solid defense, as they should. They won't be able to get it done in the playoffs and will not get any farther than the divisional round maybe not even there.
- Raiders: 9-7, Lose playoff berth to tie-breakers. This is what is called a bold prediction. Beyond the constant rumors running rampant in the media who love to hate the Raiders the team has made significant strides on the offensive side of the field. Rookie QB JaMarcus Russell showed a glimpse of what he can do in the final game of the season completing 23 of 31 (that's 74% completion for those of you who do not like math) passes for a respectable 224 yds, 1 TD, and 1 Int. TE Zach Miller set a franchise record for rookies with 44 receptions and was able to pull in 3 touchdowns. These two second year youngsters may grow to be a great tandem in the mold of Pyeton Manning and Dallas Clark (as in his favorite outlet target). With the additions of Javon Walker and Drew Carter the young QB has some speedy targets to go along with his reliable TE. What should be noted is that this Raider team was competitive in just about every game last year. There were six games last year that were decided by seven points or less and only two teams were able to "blow them away" and they were the Jaguars and the Packers. San Diego beat them twice by 14 in San Diego and 13 points in Oakland and they were more competitive in the second game than they were in the first. I expect a more consistent defense and an offensive explosion in 2008.
- Broncos: 5-11 and losing hope. With what has happened in the last couple of weeks Bronco fans should be worried! Brandon Marshall showed what kind of man he really isn't. He has been called Baby TO but I think he is much worse! At least TO didn't roughhouse with a family member to get put on the injury report! Baby yes, TO no! He still needs about 10 seasons of good production and about 100 TDs to get anywhere near that name. He is still an immature boy who cannot make adult decisions. Jay Cutler will progress but will definately miss his favorite target for the first few games at least. The running game is still solid with the blocking scheme they use and they should hope that Travis Henry can stay on the field but it is still not what it used to beThe defense is wretched! While Oakland was 31st against the run Denver was only 3.3 yards per game behind them and ranked 30th. The pass defense should again have another solid year but the corners are aging and being nicked up last year did not help Champ Bailey and if you didn't see it Dre Bly got picked on for most of the season. Do yourself a favor and do not expect much from this team! Mike Shanahan got everything he wanted to try to get this team back into the playoffs but was still unable to do so. Instead the GM was fired?!
- Chiefs: 3-13, #1 overall pick in 2009 draft. They are rebuilding and it shows. They have a young underachieving QB with Brodie Croyle and great young WR in Dwayne Bowe the two had chemistry at times last year but Croyle was at best inconsistent. Expect for Bowe to continue to be productive no matter who throws him the ball. The defense was the only other bright spot (besides Bowe)in that they were ranked 13th overall but looks can be deceiving. This was a team that was 28th against the run. I do recall that at the end of 2006 the Raiders were 3rd overall in defense but 25th against the run. A lot of good it does to have the 13th best defense when just about any team can run all over you. They made few free agent moves and are instead looking to the draft to find players. This philosophy works but takes years to accomplish and a solid corps of veterans. If this team is going to improve they will need the leadership that guys like Donnie Edwards and Tony Gonzalez. at the not too many people are looking to get into the Herman Edwards mess. Oh yeah and did I mention the team is on a 9 game losing streak!Sorry guys bad seasons happen to everyone, just ask us Oakland Raider fans.
I have been completely honest and unbiased in this assesment which is based upon the way the franchise ended the season and any free agent moves it made. So feel free to give me your most honest opinion I welcome all lovers and haters. Bring it on!