2014 NFL Preview: AFC West

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AFC WEST-

 

Denver Broncos:   

The Broncos are coming off a historic offensive season in 2013 that was led by QB Peyton Manning.  The Broncos finished 13-3 and won the AFC West division and Championship game before falling to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.  The Broncos were determined to enhance their team via free agency and did just that by signing DE Demarcus Ware, S TJ Ward, CB Aqib Talib, and WR Emmanuel Sanders as the notables.  Though they were aggressive in free agency, the Broncos lost WR Eric Decker, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, RB Knowshon Moreno to free agency while releasing CB Champ Bailey. RB Montee Ball takes over as the full time bell cow in his second season as the only question mark for the Broncos. Denver returns with a better defense in 2014 and will look to return to the Super Bowl behind Peyton Manning.  

Prediction: 12-4

Kansas City Chiefs:

Andy Reid did wonders in his first season as head coach of the Chiefs turning the worst record in football from 2012, to a 11-5 mark with a playoff appearance in 2013.  The Chiefs had a quiet offseason besides releasing CB Brandon Flowers and not signing any real impact player on either side of the ball.  Kansas City relied on their draft to produce a spark in 2014 by drafting DE Dee Ford and RB De’Anthony Thomas.  Alex Smith will have another year under Reid’s system with Jamaal Charles still in the backfield, though they will rely on WR Dwayne Bowe to play to his potential for the offense to improve.  Kansas City’s defense was the anchor for the 11-5 team in 2013 and will have to be so again if the Chiefs want to stay in the postseason picture for 2014.

Prediction: 9-7

San Diego Chargers:

The Chargers rallied in 2013 by winning their last four regular season games to punch a ticket to the postseason with a 9-7 record where they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round before losing to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional round.  San Diego spent the offseason upgrading the defense’s secondary by signing CB Brandon Flowers and drafting CB Jason Verrett with their first round selection in the draft.  Former Colts RB Donald Brown enters San Diego’s crowded backfield this season as their offense and QB Philip Rivers were revived by head coach Mike McCoy last season.  Second year WR Keenan Allen looks to build on his rookie season as he emerged as a serious WR1 talent among the NFL.  As long as the offense doesn’t experience serious regression, the new and improved secondary seems to be enough to put the Chargers back in the postseason entering the 2014 season.

Prediction: 9-7

Oakland Raiders:

Oakland enters the 2014 season with an entirely new cast on both sides of the football after a 4-12 record in 2013.  The Raiders attacked the free agency market by signing RB Maurice Jones-Drew, WR James Jones, T Austin Howard, DE Justin Tuck, LB Lamarr Woodley, CB Tarell Brown, CB Carlos Rogers, while resigning RB Darren McFadden and acquiring QB Matt Schaub.  Oakland brought many veterans in during free agency, but also made an impact by drafting LB Khalil Mack and QB Derek Carr in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.  The offense will be led by Schaub with a timeshare at RB between Jones-Drew and McFadden, while Jones, Andre Holmes, and Rod Streater will be depended on at the WR position.  The revamped defense will carry the responsibility of keeping the Raiders in games due to a high octane offensive division.  2014 success relies on Schaub’s arm and the many free agent signings, but the Raiders seem a year or two away from postseason play.

Prediction: 5-11

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