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SNAP CENTRAL | PREVIEWS: NCAA Top 25 | NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West | AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West
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Fearless Rick's NFL Preview - AFC West

Rick Gagliano | August 2, 2012

AFC West

Oakland Raiders

2011 record: 8-8

Predicted finish: 10-6

Head Coach: Dennis Allen

Departed: QB Trent Edwards, QB Jason Campbell, RB Michael Bush, WR Chaz Schilens, TE Kevin Boss

Incoming: QB Matt Leinart

Strengths: Rushing offense. Ranked 7th in the league at 131.9 yards per outing, and will improve, despite the departure of Michael Bush, last season's leading rusher.

Weaknesses: Defense. The Raiders wer ranked 27th in both passing and rushing defense, areas which were partially addressed in the draft.

Key Games: Mon, Sep 10 vs. San Deigo; Sun, Sep 30 at Denver; Sun, Dec 23 at Carolina; Sun, Dec 30 at San Diego

What if?: Carson Palmer has a better season than he did in 2011?

The Raiders will win the division in a squeaker over the Broncos.

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Denver Broncos

2011 record: 8-8

Predicted finish: 9-7

Head Coach: John Fox

Departed: QB Brady Quinn, QB Tim Tebow, WR Eddie Royal, TE Daniel Fells

Incoming: QB Peyton Manning, QB Caleb Hanie, QB Brock Osweiler, RB Ronnie HIllman, WR Jason Hill, WR Andre Caldwell, WR Brandon Stokley, TE Joel Dreessen, TE Jacob Tamme

Strengths: Improved passing game. With Payton Manning taking over for the departed Tim Tebow, the Broncos should improve dramatically over their ranking of 31st in passing offense from 2011. Balanced offense. The Broncos have some solid backs and should provide Manning with more options.

Weaknesses: Defense. Ranked 18 against the pass and 22 against the run, Denver's defense isn't going to be a quick fix.

Key Games: Sun, Sep 9 vs. Pittsburgh; Mon, Sep 17 at Atlanta; Sun, Sep 23 vs. Houston; Sun, Oct 7 at New England

What if?: Peyton Manning doesn't get the offense going early in the season?

The Broncos will be in trouble, and it's likely to happen because Manning will be working with new recievers in a new system and everything isn't going to be like clockwork. Besides, those early-season games against Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Houston and New England could easily result in losses.


Kansas City Chiefs

2011 record: 7-9

Predicted finish: 7-9

Head Coach: Romeo Crennel

Departed: QB Kyle Orton, RB Le'Ron McClain, TE Leonard Pope

Incoming: QB Brady Quinn, RB Peyton HIllis, TE Kevin Boss

Strengths: Secondary. One of the best in the business, but not much supporting the run.

Weaknesses: New Coach. First year for Crennel, who's accomplished nothing as a head coach. Struggling offense. Matt Cassel may not be the answer at QB, though the addition of Peyton Hillis at running back could take off some of the pressure.

Key Games: Sun, Sep 23 at New Orleans; Sun, Oct 7 vs. Baltimore; Mon, Nov 12 at Pittsburgh, Sun, Dec 16 at Oakland; Sun, Dec 30 at Denver

What if?: The Raiders and Broncos aren't very good?

The door to the playoffs is open in this very weak division. Kansas City could easily make the playoffs with a 9-7 or even an 8-8 record. That doesn't mean they're very good, just that the rest of the teams in the division aren't. With three out of their last four games on the road, KC faces an uphill battle if not in good position late in the season.


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San Diego Chargers

2011 record: 8-8

Predicted finish: 5-11

Head Coach: Norv Turner

Departed: RB Mike Tolbert, WR Vincent Jackson

Incoming: QB Charlie Whitehurst. RB Le'Ron McClain, RB Ronnie Brown, WR Robert Meachem, WR Eddie Royal, WR Roscoe Parrish

Strengths: Phillip Rivers and Ryan Matthews. Two of the best offensive players at their respective positions in the league. They will have to carry the team after losing Vincent Jackson and Mike Tolbert.

Weaknesses: Run defense. Ranked 20th in 2011 at 122.2 yards oer outing, the San Diego defense was on the field too often and wore down late in games.

Key Games: Almost all of them.

What if?: The Chargers get off to their usual slow start?

They should finally fire Norv Turner, though ownership continues to stick with him so they'll eventually look good after firing Marty Schottenheimer five or six years ago. It was a bad move then, and remains one of the great management blunders in NFL history. The Chargers are a shadow of what they were a few years ago and Turner can't win big games. Whether the Chargers head into their bye week 5-1 or 1-5 (a good possibility), Norv should have gotten the boot a long time ago.

Copyright 2012, 2013, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.

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