State of the AFC West in 2013


afcwestpostThe 2013 season is nearly 6 months away, but with the exciting off-season moves the Chiefs have made so far I’m counting down the days until kick-off. Chiefs360 takes a closer look at what’s in store for the Chiefs, and the AFC West going into this upcoming season.

Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning will be going into 2013 with a season under his belt in the Denver Broncos’ offense. He will also be healthier and have a new toy to play with in Wes Welker.

Broncos key off-season acquisitions.

  • Signed free agent WR Wes Welker
  • Signed free agent CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
  • Franchise Tagged OT Ryan Clady

The Denver Broncos have been busy in free agency by signing WR Wes Welker and four other veterans—CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, G Louis Vasquez, LB Stewart Bradley and DT Terrance Knighton. Four of the five free agents signed were signed to no more than two-year contracts—low risk investments on young veteran players to make contributions in the present.

The Broncos will enter the 2013 season with arguably the best receiving corps in the NFL with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Welker. All three of those guys had 1,000 yard seasons in 2012.

They will also have a strong 1,2 punch at CB with Rodgers-Cromartie starting opposite of Champ Bailey. With Rodgers-Cromartie being 26 years old, he may be the guy that ends up replacing Bailey once Champ hangs it up. The Broncos also have young cornerbacks Tony Carter and Omar Bolden for depth.

2013 Prediction | 12-4 record, AFC West Champions, AFC Champions, Super Bowl runner-up

 

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have been one of the most active teams this off-season, and with good reason. After going 2-14 things are most certainly bound to change. The first moves were to get rid the worst General Manager the Chiefs have ever had in Scott Pioli, also replacing the coaches. Owner Clark Hunt said he was committed to getting “his guys”. He did just that; getting the best Head Coach available, Andy Reid. Mr. Hunt also went out and grabbed draft guru John Dorsey from the Green Bay Packers to take over the watch as GM.

Chiefs key off-season acquisitions.

  • Traded for QB Alex Smith
  • Signed free agent QB Chase Daniel(S) lol…
  • Re-signed WR Dwayne Bowe
  • Signed free agent WR Donnie Avery
  • Re-signed Punter Dustin Colquitt
  • Franchise Tagged LT Branden Albert
  • Restructured DE Tyson Jackson
  • Signed free agent CB Dunta Robinson
  • Signed free agent CB Sean Smith
  • Signed free agent TE Anthony Fasano

General Manager John Dorsey is obviously building depth on this team at every position with his early moves. This is a good indication that he will indeed go with his “best player available” philosophy in the draft. With the Chiefs having the overall number 1 pick in this years draft, it’s anybody’s guess who that might be right now. Most experts are predicting LT Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M. (I hate that idea)

The Chiefs have gone 30 years without drafting a QB in the first round, and trading away a second round pick for 49ers backup Alex Smith, that looks to seal the 31st year. They have some solid talent around Smith that could flourish if things go accordingly. With Smith’s accuracy, quick release and sound decision-making skills, Jamaal Charles should be the recipient of plenty of dump offs on plays.

Also, there will likely be a variety of short passes designed to get him the ball in space on high-percentage throws.

The most exciting moves this off season for the Chiefs have been the upgrade they have done with the secondary. Bringing in two legitimate DB’s in Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith. Robinson and Smith are aggressive in bump coverage, which new DB coach Al Harris and Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton have implemented into the new scheme. Expect the Chiefs to be a heavy rush team next year that forces opposing QB’s to make split decisions.

With the Chiefs sending 6 players to last years Pro-Bowl, there is a ton of talent on this team. The new additions on the field, and in front office should help bring the Chiefs back relevance in the AFC West. Things will be tough for the Chiefs as long as Peyton Manning’s neck is still here.

2013 Prediction | 9-7 record, 2nd in AFC West. Maybe squeak into a Wild-Card game.

 

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are going into 2013 with a new Head Coach Mike McCoy, and new General Manager Tom Telesco. Philip Rivers turned 31 in December and without a quality offensive line, Rivers and the Chargers have little to no hope of making the playoffs. Basically, all five starting offensive line positions need to be overhauled.

Chargers key off-season acquisitions.

  • Signed free agent CB Derek Cox
  • Signed kicker Nick Novak
  • Signed free agent OT King Dunlap

They did sign one of the biggest names on the market at the cornerback position in Derek Cox. Despite the signing, the Chargers could still use a cornerback or two. Shareece Wright and Marcus Gilchrist are the only other two cornerbacks on the roster who should see significant playing time in 2013, so the need is still there. There is considerable depth at the cornerback position in the draft, so the Chargers will likely look to add a cornerback in the second or third round as opposed to the first.

Free-agent RB and former New England Patriot Danny Woodhead agreed to a 2-year deal with the Chargers. What San Diego gets in Wooodhead is obviously his versatility, but more importantly the team has finally found its legitimate No. 2 back to pair with Ryan Mathews. On passing downs, Woodhead can be that guy to make something out of nothing.

2013 Prediction | 7-9 record, 3rd in the AFC West.

 

Oakland Raiders

A decade has passed since the Oakland Raiders last made the playoffs or even had a winning season.

Raiders key off-season acquisitions.

  • Re-sign CB Phillip Adams
  • Signed free agent LB Jason Hunter
  • Signed OLB Kaluka Maiava
  • Signed OLB Nick Roach

The Raiders have needs all over their roster, but none as big as cornerback. Their offensive line is in need of some help, but you can identify viable starters, the same cannot be said of the CB position. The defensive line is also a big area of need, there are a couple of solid guys and some depth. If they really are moving to a 3-4 defense, the defensive line will be easier to address with one less position needed. They will receive one round six compensatory pick in the 2013 draft. They now have picks in Round 1, 3, 4, 6 (2), and 7 (2).

With so many questions surrounding the quarterback position entering 2013, an immediate reversal of that trend doesn’t seem likely. The Raiders are focusing their attention on bringing in a young quarterback to compete with Terrelle Pryor. Cutting ties with the overpaid Carson Palmer would send the right message to the franchise. With the third pick in the draft, they should have a fairly decent shot at landing Geno Smith. (sigh)

Darren McFadden has earned the reputation of being one of the most injury-plagued running backs in the NFL. McFadden has spent five years in the league and has failed to play in more than 13 games in any season. When healthy, he is one of the most electrifying running backs in the NFL. With General Manager Reggie McKenzie searching to free up some cash before next season begins, McFadden’s inability to stay healthy should persuade him into exploring a trade for the injury-prone running back. Oakland could easily get a second-round and possibly another third-round pick for McFadden, which would be huge for the Raiders since they currently don’t have a second-rounder.

2013 Prediction | 4-12 record, last place in AFC West.

 


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