No Sleep Till Football

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2016 AFC WEST PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Predicted # of Wins: 10-11. What Tennessee is trying to do offensively with Marcus Mariota isn’t unlike what Kansas City is already doing. The Chiefs ranked 9th in scoring offense last season but it was due to an outstanding running attack featuring Spencer Ware, Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles & Charcandrick West. The Chiefs average 4.7ypc as a team & 6th in rushing yards. This with Jamaal Charles missing 11 games! Alex Smith stays in his lane. The Chiefs didn’t go after receivers this offseason so the gameplan is still the same with hopefully more Charles thrown in. Jeremy Maclin & Travis Kelce are the lone receiving threats. Signing Mitchell Schwartz to upgrade the line means more running for KC. Kansas City was a tremendous defensive team last year but will have the burden of losing OLB Justin Houston to injury & CB Sean Smith to free agency. Dee Ford will have to step into Houston’s role, but I think he’s up for it & some pressure will be off with Tamba Hali on the other side. There are playmakers everywhere here especially with Derrick Johnson, Marcus Peters & Eric Berry.  It’s difficult to beat a team that can run & play ball control offense combined with a solid defense. KC continues to ascend the AFC West.
#2 Computer Hope Predicted # of Wins: 8-10. Generally when looking at divisions, you can almost slot the teams in order of finish by who has the better QB. Philip Rivers is the best QB in the AFC West & likely the best QB in the NFL who hasn’t won a Super Bowl yet. That should mean something. Offensively the Bolts have a lot of weapons especially with Keenan Allen returning. They signed Travis Benjamine & drafted Hunter Henry to go along with Antonio Gates. Melvin Gordon has to improve doesn’t he?? The O-Line is a huge question mark but Matt Slauson is a huge upgrade at C & King Dunlap is healthy. Defensively I love the draft picks of Joey Bosa, Josh Perry & Jatavis Brown. San Diego also signed NT Brandon Mebane which should work wonders. Having Mebane, Bosa & Corey Liuget on the line with Melvin Ingram, Kyle Emmanuel & Jeremiah Attaochu on the edge should give San Diego an excellent front-7. The secondary is also very good with Jason Verrett & Casey Hayward at corner. Dwight Lowery will do a good job replacing Eric Weddle. It’s never easy to rebound from 4-12, but SD was much better than that last year. They’ll avoid the plague of injuries & they are fighting to stay in San Diego. They’ll turn things around.
#3 Computer Hope Predicted # of Wins: 7-8. You can easily argue that Peyton Manning played the worst football of his career last season, but at the same time it’s hard to ignore that the Broncos offense is a mess. While you can certainly argue that Mark Sanchez is an upgrade over Manning if you ONLY look at Manning’s stats, it’s also hard to believe that given Manning went 11-2 as a starter last year. That being said, outside of Demaryius Thomas & Emmanuel Sanders, there isn’t much left of this offense. The line is a mess. There is no depth at WR. There is no reliable pass catching TE & the best RB on your team might be the rooke Devontae Booker. That doesn’t sound promising. Defensively the Broncos are another story. The entire unit returns except for Malik Jackson & Danny Trevathan. Those are bigger losses than you might think but I think rookie Adam Gotsis will play well as Jackson’s eventual replacement & of course the secondary will be dynamic once again. Denver’s defense was historically great last season so you’d expect there to be some regression to the mean. There is  reason why teams don’t repeat & a reason why the Jets gave up on Sanchez as their franchise QB. The Broncos will take a step back.
#4 Computer Hope Predicted # of Wins: 6-8. Picking Oakland to finish last is probably my biggest reach so let’s forget about looking at the offense & defense for a second. Oakland could conceivably finish 2nd according to my predicitons. If SD wins 8 games & Denver wins 7 then Oakland could win 8 and win the tiebreaker over SD to finish 2nd. That’s makes the prediction of 7-8 wins more palatable. My gut is saying that Oakland is a year away. This is sort of like the situation in Jacksonville although Oakland is better suited than the Jaguars are. I think there are questions as to whether Latavius Murray is a true #1 RB & Oakland doesn’t have a ton behind him. Oakland’s TE situation needs to be sorted out as well. The O-Line is fantastic & Derek Carr took a huge step forward last season but they might need a bit more seasoning. Defensively the Raiders ranked 22nd in the NFL in points allowed which isn’t fantastic and led to their 7-9 record. I think Oakland improves defensively but it might be just a little bit given the youth of the defense. Given Denver’s QB situation & the age of Philip Rivers, it’s easy to see Oakland is set to dominate this division for the next decade, but that dominance starts in 2017 rather than this season.
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August 22, 2016 - Posted by | AFC, AFC West, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Predictions, Previews, San Diego Chargers

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