2013 NFL Preseason Predictions: AFC West (Beazley)
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Here are my 2013 preseason predictions for the AFC West:
1. Denver Broncos (schedule): 11-5
This is the second-easiest division to predict a winner. The Broncos might have the most balanced team in the AFC, but they definitely do have some problems that will hold them back this year.
Center Dan Koppen was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Elvis has left the building, and took his talents to the Super Bowl-champ Ravens. Von Miller is suspended for the first six games of the season.
Their ground game is in absolute shambles. Let's start with Ronnie Hillman. Hillman has been a fumbling machine this preseason and might fumble himself out of the "starter" role. Hillman has a ton of upside, but the fumbling problems will definitely hurt. The Broncos drafted Montee Ball to help with the ground attack this year, and he has looked pretty bad this preseason as well. The biggest weakness in Ball's game is with blocking, and there is no way Peyton Manning is going to want Ball to be out there when he is routinely whiffing on blocks. Hillman had this same issue last year. That leaves Knowshon Moreno who has been a career disappointment so far. It's going to be a mix-and-matched bunch for sure this year.
The good is obviously Peyton Manning. Manning has a full complement of weapons to throw to and he should challenge for the MVP award this year. Manning has led mediocre teams to the playoffs, and now he has a solid nucleus around him. As good as Peyton Manning is, I think he needs one more Super Bowl title to even make an argument he is a top-five All-Time great.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (schedule): 9-7
I couldn't have been more off with my worst-to-first pick last year for the Chiefs. The biggest offseason addition was bringing in head coach Andy Reid. Reid may have not taken the Eagles to the promised land by winning a Super Bowl, but he was good enough to get them to that next level.
The Chiefs offensive line and ground game is definitely their biggest strength heading into the year. Re-signing Branden Albert was huge, and first-round pick Eric Fisher looks like he will be one of the top tackles in this league for the next decade. Jamaal Charles should have plenty of holes to run the ball this year.
They might be playoff-bound this year!
3. San Diego Chargers (schedule): 5-11
I'm not sure what happened to Philip Rivers, but he clearly isn't cutting it anymore. My bold prediction for the Chargers signal-caller is that this year will be his last. There was a pretty good article written about it here:
El Capitan is due $30.75 million for the remaining two years after this upcoming season. A.J. Smith was smart enough to build in a back-door into this contract in case Rivers wasn't worth more than $15 million a year at 32 years old, which is why the team can release Philip next year and face a cap hit of just $1.2 million. That's a savings of $13.8 million in cap space in 2014, and $15.75 million in cap space in 2015.
The Chargers are clearly a team headed in the wrong direction. At least one thing that was positive was Norv Turner being shown the door finally.
4. Oakland Raiders (schedule): 5-11
We can add Matt Flynn to the list of QBs who had a small sample size on a great team, that failed to live up to the hype on their new team after getting a big contract. I really don't see how teams can throw around big money on unproven QBs. It just shows how bad some of the QBs are in the NFL, and how desparate some teams are to find one.
Last year Seattle was smart though, not putting all their eggs into the Flynn basket by drafting Russell Wilson. Now they parted ways with Flynn, and he is now Oakland's problem this year.
I just can't see the Raiders being any good this season because of the QB play. If Darren McFadden plays all 16 games this year maybe they can be a game or two better, but we know that won't happen.
All of our contributors will make their division and Super Bowl picks and we will track those on this centralized predictions page.