NFL Preview: AFC West

Is this San Diego's year to shine?

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

San Diego Chargers

The Charger fielded the number 1 defense and the number 1 ranked offense in the NFL a year ago. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough for them to lock up a playoff spot. This season, it's all about how good this offense can be. With the re-signing of Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd, Quarterback Phillip Rivers has a pair of consistent receiving threats to go along with the perennial Pro Bowler, Tight End Antonio Gates. If San Diego can avoid their typical slow start, this team could be SuperBowl bound.

Predicted Record: 12-4


Kansas City Chiefs

You have to wonder how much the departure of offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss to Florida is going to derail a Kansas City passing game that flourished in 2010. To counter that and keep the air threat alive, the Chiefs spent a first round pick on a receiver and traded for veteran Steve Breaston.  The biggest help in keeping the air game alive, however, is handing the ball to Jamaal Charles. Charles is a top five running back in the league who is primed to become even more. Don't be surprised if the Chiefs are a serious contender for a wild card birth.

Predicted Record: 10-6

Denver Broncos

There is a lot of question marks coming out of Denver but if you ask Broncos personnel and players, who is the starting QB isn't one of them. It's clearly Kyle Orton's job this season and that alone will keep this team respectable. Orton isn't flashy and will more than likely not be playing in a Pro Bowl but he is smart and consistent and if the Broncos can get anything from their running game, then this team will win games. Is Orton the long term answer? No, but he is good enough for now.

Predicted finish: 7-9

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders are a team that has talent but will probably finish among the bottom half of the league. Their only shot at avoiding this is getting off to an early, fast, start and to keep running back Darren McFadden upright and healthy. They are on the road their first two games against Denver and Buffalo and both those are winnable games. If the Raiders can start 2-0, then momentum may guide them to a few other early wins and if that happens, you never know how they can finish. The real question mark is how the Oakland secondary is going to survive the loss of Nnamdi Asomugha. Without Asomugha shutting down one half of the field, it could be a long season for the Raiders.

Predicted Finish: 6-10