Mike Ivcic’s AFC West Division Preview & Predictions

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Mike Ivcic’s AFC West Division Preview & Predictions ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>


Welcome to the Ultimate Capper’s NFL Season Preview. Below is the schedule for the division-by-division breakdown for the upcoming season. Also, we’re enhancing our NFL coverage this year with Mike Ivcic’s regular column every Wednesday and a full game-by-game breakdown every Saturday, in addition to our regular features and free picks. The best place for information on the 2013 NFL season is right here at the Ultimate Capper!


AFC West – Tue, 8/13 NFC North – Wed, 8/14 NFC East – Thu, 8/15
AFC South – Fri, 8/16 NFC South – Tue, 8/20 AFC North – Wed, 8/21
NFC West – Thu, 8/22 AFC East – Fri, 8/23 Playoffs – Wed, 8/28

Denver Broncos
Record Last Season: 13-3
Over/Under Win Total: 11.5
Odds to win AFC West: 1/4
Odds to win AFC Title: 2/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 6/1
Outlook: The upsides here are fairly obvious – another year for Peyton Manning to adjust to the offense (and everyone else to adjust to Peyton Manning) and the addition of Wes Welker, which also serves the dual purpose of weakening the Patriots. Monte Ball should more than compensate for the loss of Willis McGahee, so offensively this should be the most prolific scoring team in the AFC. Denver was already six games better than the second-place Chargers last season, so it’s not unreasonable to assume they can duplicate that performance, but the key will be on defense, where they will have to navigate three explosive offenses (the Ravens, Giants, and Eagles) over the first four weeks without Von Miller, suspended four games for violating the league’s drug policy. Still, anything short of 6-0 within the division should be considered a minor failure for this group, and I’d be surprised if another team really challenges the Broncos for home field advantage in the AFC playoffs.
Prediction: 14-2, 1st place

Kansas City Chiefs
Record Last Season: 2-14
Over/Under Win Total: 7.5
Odds to win AFC West: 11/2
Odds to win AFC Title: 25/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 50/1
Outlook: The disparity between the running and passing offense for this group last year was almost unbelievable – 5th in the league in rushing, 32nd in the league in passing, which led to a putrid 211 points scored. It’s safe to assume that new head coach Andy Reid’s troops will have a much different look to them this season than they did last year when they have the ball, especially now with Alex Smith running the show. Remember, this was a playoff team two years ago, so it’s not like the cupboard is bare for Reid and his coaching staff. They have some playmakers on defense too, led by linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety Eric Berry, and adding Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson in the draft and cornerback Dunta Robinson through free agency should at least make this defense somewhat formidable. They probably won’t compete for a playoff berth this year, but folk in Kansas City should definitely be getting excited for 2014.
Prediction: 7-9, 2nd place


Oakland Raiders
Record Last Season: 4-12
Over/Under Win Total: 5.5
Odds to win AFC West: 20/1
Odds to win AFC Title: 125/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 250/1
Outlook: Dennis Allen’s second season as head coach probably won’t wind up much better than his first, if at all. The addition of Matt Flynn at QB is still a question mark – as good as he has looked during actual live action in the NFL, let’s remember he was also beaten out by Russell Wilson in Seattle last season after the Seahawks had traded for him to be the starter – and the wide receiving crops after Jacoby Ford are also a bit thin. The defense should again at least be stable, helped out by veterans like Mike Jenkins, Joselio Hansen, Andre Carter, and the ageless Charles Woodson, who’s back for his second stint with the silver and black. But that defense is also likely to be on the field quite a bit if the offense can’t figure out a way to create some holes for Darren McFadden and give Flynn time to throw, so it’s possible that midway through the year that “experience” will look a lot more like “old age.” In theory, this is a team that’s slowly building towards success – the solution of the QB situation being critical in that process – but for at least another year or two, this will be a team still living below the .500 mark.
Prediction: 5-11, 3rd place

San Diego Chargers
Record Last Season: 7-9
Over/Under Win Total: 7.5
Odds to win AFC West: 6/1
Odds to win AFC Title: 20/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 50/1
Outlook: Something about this team doesn’t sit well with me. Yes, Philip Rivers is still playing quarterback, so in theory they should be better than Oakland, but I’m starting to think Rivers may be one of the most overrated QB’s in the NFL. Sure, he threw for 26 TD’s and over 3,600 yards last season, but he also was intercepted 15 times and fumbled 15 times, and had only two 300-yard passing games all last season – both losses. I understand that stats can be made to tell whatever story I’m looking to tell (thus why I used the ones I did) but his supporting cast also isn’t stellar, and now they’ll have to adjust to a new offensive scheme from first-year head coach Mike McCoy. Guys like Ronnie Brown, Eddie Royal, Danny Woodhead, and Robert Meachem are fine as second and third options, but there’s no one on offense that can legitimately step up as a workhorse running back (I don’t buy into Ryan Mathews as that type of back) or a go-to receiver. The defense is young except for offseason acquisition Dwight Freeney and linebacker Jarret Johnson, so there’s a chance for this unit to gel and improve from last season, but a tough schedule and lack of explosiveness on offense will ultimately be San Diego’s undoing.
Prediction: 5-11, 4th place


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