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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Oakland Raiders - AFC West Divisional Analysis

Today let's take a deeper look at the AFC West and see how our opponents have faired this offseason so we might garner a better understanding of our 2006 potential.

Denver Broncos
Denver's most notable player acquired this offseason was probably WR Javon Walker from the Packers. Walker is one of the better receivers in the league and fills a hole for Denver. Rod Smith has slowly been on the decline the last couple seasons and won't be productive for much longer. Denver will once again be able to run the ball, they always can. I think I could run behind the dirtiest line in the league too.

Denver had a pretty solid draft. The biggest pick was Cutler but DE Elvis Dumervil may end up being being a solid player. Cutler won't get ant playing time this season so this draft may not have an immediate impact.

The Broncos lost a few players this season as well. Trevor Pryce was lost and DE Kenard Lang was signed. Lang isn't as good as Pryce but should fill the position.

The Broncos are also aging at some key positions as well. John Lynch has finally showed some signs of his age and won't be as good this season. Jake Plummer will most likely be the success or the failure of this team. If he can put together another good season, the team will be successful; If he reverts to being a mistake-prone headcase, the team will falter.

Denver is still the team to beat in the AFC West but their reign at the top may start slipping from them as early as next season.

Kansas City Cheifs
Larry Johnson has the potential to be the top runner in the NFL this season. He is one of the top running backs in the NFL. The Cheifs haven't made any huge free agency moves this season but may be looking at veteran CB Ty Law. The Cheifs are getting to be an old team. They are going to have to do a complete makeover in the next few seasons.

With their first pick in the draft the Cheifs selected DE Tambi Hali. Hali should be a solid addition as should second round pick S Bernard Pollard. The may have drafted Trent Green's successor in the third round by picking up QB Brodie Croyle.

The Cheifs have made some defensive additions and should have a slightly improved defense this season. Their problem lies on offense. Yes they have had one of the top offenses in the league the last few years, but they are getting old. The O-line may start to succumb to injuries because thats what happens to older players (it happened in Oakland). Johnson will fill Holmes's spot but the rest of the offense is on the decline.

The Cheifs are on the downward spiral but Herman Edwards probably got a better team than he'd have in NY.

San Diego Chargers
What do you do after searching for years for a Pro Bowl QB and then finally finding one in Drew Brees? You let him go?!?! If the Charger's would have kept Drew Brees, they would have been a trendy pick to win the AFC West but it now looks like they might be heading back to the AFC West Cellar with Philip Rivers at the helm. Rookie QBs generally struggle. Yes, even rookie QBs with LT and Antonio Gates.

LT turns 27 this month, which means he probably has 3 or 4 productive years left in him. It's too bad they will be used trying to groom a rookie QB. They are still weak at the Wide Receiver position as well and Gates may be Phil's only real target.

To make matter worse in SD, they are now looking to trade one of their defensive leaders in LB Edwards. This may go down as one of the Chargers worst offseasons,.....and they have had some bad ones.

The Chargers still have a young team and aren't completely doomed but they have made their share of mistakes this offseason. They will struggle this season but should rebound eventually...

Divisional Prediction
With all that said and done, here is my divisional prediction. This will probably be far off but it's still fun to speculate. I think Art Shell's Impact will be felt.

Denver 11-5
Oakland 10-6
Kansas City 9-7
San Diego 5-11

Can the Raiders really win 10 games? Sure, I'll show you how by breaking down their schedule tommorrow. Stay tuned.......


Blogger Calico Jack said...

Analyzer - Nice post.

The key to the Raiders 2006 season will the 1st 6 games. 5 games(vs. SD, at Balt, vs. Clev, at SF, vs. AZ) in the 1st 6 are very winnable. The tough game is game #5 at Den.

It will be crucial for the Raiders to take care of business in this 1st 6 game stretch to set up the rest of the season to be playoff contenders. It also will be vital because games 7-11 are brutal (vs.Pitt, at Sea, vs. Den, at KC, at SD).

A mark of 7-4 or 6-5 after the 1st 11 games would seem reasonable.

The last 5 games having 4 very winnable games (vs. Hou, vs. StL, vs. KC, at NYJ) with one tough road game (at Cincy).

If you breakdown the schedule, I see 10 of 16 very winnable games. 5 of our 6 tough games are on the road (at Den, at Sea, at KC, at SD, at Cincy).

6/07/2006 9:12 PM  
Blogger The Analyzer said...

The interesting thing is that Brooks has been better on the road in his NFL career. I wonder if that will hold true this season.

6/08/2006 8:23 AM  

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