AFC West Predictions for the 2015 Season
Somewhat of an outlook on how the AFC West will pan out this season.
Denver Broncos: BAL, @KC, @DET, MIN, @OAK, @CLE, BYE, GB, @IND, KC, @CHI, NE, @SD, OAK, @PIT, CIN, SD
Additions: TE Owen Daniels, G Evan Mathis, DE Antonio Smith, DT Vance Walker, RT Ryan Harris
Losses: OT Ryan Clady (IR), TE Julius Thomas, G Orlando Franklin, FS Rahim Moore, ILB Nate Irving, DT Terrance Knighton, C Will Montgomery, WR Wes Welker
San Diego Chargers: DET, @CIN, @MIN, CLE, PIT, @GB, OAK, @BAL, CHI, BYE, KC, @JAX, DEN, @KC, MIA, @OAK, @DEN
Additions: G Orlando Franklin, CB Brandon Flowers (re-signed), CB Patrick Robinson, WR/KR Jacoby Jones, WR Stevie Johnson, RT Joe Barksdale
Losses: C Nick Hardwick (retired), RB Ryan Mathews, OLB Dwight Freeney
Kansas City Chiefs: @HOU, DEN, @GB, @CIN, CHI, @MIN, PIT, DET, BYE, @DEN, @SD, BUF, @OAK, SD, @BAL, CLE, OAK
Additions: S Eric Berry (return from illness), WR Jeremy Maclin, G Paul Fanaika, WR Jason Avant (re-signed), OL Ben Grubbs (trade with New Orleans)
Losses: WR Dwayne Bowe, TE Anthony Fasano, DT Vance Walker, ILB Joe Mays, RT Ryan Harris,
Oakland Raiders: CIN, BAL, @CLE, @CHI, DEN, BYE, @SD, NYJ, @PIT, MIN, @DET, @TEN, KC, @DEN, GB, SD, @KC
Additions: WR Michael Crabtree, RB Roy Helu, LB Curtis Lofton, S Taylor Mays
Losses: RB Darren McFadden, C Stefan Wisniewski, DE Antonio Smith, ILB Nick Roach, DE LaMarr Woodley
AFC West End Results: Will this be the final year seeing Peyton Manning behind center? If so, then it will be quite a while until we see him again in the national spotlight. Then again, this might not be his last year. The quarterback unknown will shadow Denver at season's end. This I am certain though: the Broncos will not get to the Super Bowl this year. I am not even sure they even get back to the AFC Championship game but we'll see how things go. Signing Peyton Manning in the Spring of 2012 really gave Denver hope. They got to the Super Bowl in the 2013 season but were blown out by the Seattle Seahawks. It was clear that Denver needed some extra beef to the offensive line and defense after that loss. The signings of T.J Ward, Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware last year were nice additions to the defense, but the ending wasn't so. The offensive line will have only one returning starter from last year after the unfortunate ACL tear to left tackle Ryan Clady, who will be replaced by Colorado State rookie, Ty Sambrailo. Evan Mathis was added at guard on August 25, which I thought was a good move. I don't have high expectations for this year's team, but with Manning having another good year (I'm thinking Denver will run the ball more late in the season to not ware out his arm), Denver will win the division. The 2014 Broncos were in, I thought, desperation mode with not much planning for the future when Manning does leave/retire.
The San Diego Chargers finished at 9-7 in what was a roller coaster of a ride in 2014. You could argue that they were one of the hottest teams in early October. The outlook for 2015 for San Diego would be more of a tale of two teams: start the season 6-3 heading to the bye week and then lose five of the last seven games to finish at 8-8. Rookie running back Melvin Gordon will have a good start to the season but will fall flat due to the Chargers lack of play makers at the receiving position. I don't see Antonio Gates being a big factor when he comes back from his suspension (hopefully I am wrong).
With a team in the division going backwards, you have another going up. That team would be the Kansas City Chiefs. I wouldn't be surprised if the Chiefs win the AFC West, but I do expect them to have a good enough season to get to the postseason. Coach Andy Reid is reunited with receiver Jeremy Maclin. You can bet that the receivers will now be catching touchdown passes. A remarkable season for linebacker Justin Houston last year (22 sacks). I expect the defense will have greater success because of the return of DE Mike DeVito and Safety Eric Berry (Berry Strong). A victory vs the Bengals will give the Chiefs the tie breaker sending them to the playoffs.
A tough schedule to start the first month of the season for Oakland. No favors were given with three of those five games going against playoff teams from last year. Now an upset is possible against Cincinnati, but nothing else to expect vs Baltimore and Denver. After the bye week, an 11-game stretch follows but there are some winnable games sketched out on the schedule. Wide Receiver, and offensive rookie of the year-hopeful, Amari Cooper will connect on plenty of passes with QB Derek Carr. A playoff appearance for the Raiders isn't that far away.
Denver Broncos: (11-5) Clinches AFC West and Playoff appearance
Kansas City Chiefs: (10-6) Clinches AFC Wild Card
San Diego Chargers (8-8)
Oakland Raiders: (7-9)