AFC West 2009 Preview
1. San Diego Chargers 12-4 #2 seed
Key Losses: Mike Goff
Key Draft Picks: Larry English
Overview: Going in to week 13 the Chargers were 4-8 and needed a miracle finish to make the playoffs. The Chargers were ravaged by injuries, bad referee calls and last second losses. The Chargers won their last 4 games and Denver lost their last 3 games to give the Chargers the #4 seed in the AFC Playoffs. With a healthy LaDainian Tomlinson and a healthy Chris Chambers I expect the Chargers offense to light up the scoreboards this season. On the defensive side of the ball the Chargers get All-Pro Shawne Merriman back on the field and a fearless pass rusher in DE Larry English. Expect the Chargers to easily with the AFC West.
2. Kansas City Chiefs 9-7
Key Additions: Matt Cassel, Mike Goff, Zach Thomas, Bobby Engram
Key Losses: Tony Gonzalez, Donnie Edwards
Key Draft Picks: Tyson Jackson
Overview: Leave it to the Chiefs to stick a promising young QB (Tyler Thigpen) on the bench and bring in a QB coming off of one hot season. The Chiefs could have used the money they spent on Matt Cassel to acquire a possession receiver like TJ Houshmandzadeh. The Chiefs are due for a breakout season in 2009. With Dwayne Bowe and a healthy Bobby Engram for Cassel to throw to and a healthy Larry Johnson and Jamaal Charles in the backfield expect the Chiefs offense to put up some points. The Chiefs have a young defense so expect them to struggle some this season but with Tyson Jackson and Derrick Johnson leading the front 7 they’ll put some pressure on the QB. Expect them to have a good season but just miss the playoffs.
3. Denver Broncos 8-8
Key Additions: Brian Dawkins, Kyle Orton, Correll Buckhalter, Jabar Gaffney
Key Losses: Jay Cutler, Dre’ Bly, Selvin Young
Key Draft Picks: Knowshon Moreno, Robert Ayers, Darcel McBath
Overview: The Broncos have a much improved team from last year, even with Kyle Orton at QB. They have improved their RB depth and added Jabar Gaffney to the WR core. The defense has a lot of new faces from 2008, including Champ Bailey who wasn’t himself last season. The signing of Brian Dawkins gives the Broncos two elite secondary players. Unfortunately for the Broncos they have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL and it was tough to even find 8 wins for them.
4. Oakland Raiders 4-12
Key Additions: Lorenzo Neal, Jeff Garcia, Samson Satele
Key Losses: Jake Grove, Gibril Wilson, Ronald Curry
Key Draft Picks: Darrius Heyward-Bey
Overview: The Raiders picked up in 2008 right where they left off in 2007, being terrible and in the Draft this year Al Davis made another of his terrible decisions, choosing Darius Hayward-Bey over Michael Crabtree. The addition of Jeff Garcia at QB (who should be starting by week 4 if he’s not opening day), C Samson Satele, and FB Lorenzo Neal will vastly improve the running game but the defense, aside from Nnamdi Asomugha, is terrible. The Raiders should get to 4 wins, but don’t expect them to be pretty.