Where will the AFC West be won?

Andrew Mount

With nearly every team in the AFC West on a bye week this past week, it seems like a good time to look at where each team stands.

Being a Chiefs fan myself living in Brookings and also knowing multiple Broncos fans in the area, it came to my attention that not every NFL fan that lives here is faithful to the Packers or the Vikings.

With that being said, it’s time to take a deeper look at the AFC West, where the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos reside.

The Denver Broncos are in a tie with the San Diego Chargers at 3-3 apiece, as the Oakland Raiders trail by a game at 2-4, with the Kansas City Chiefs in dead last at 1-5.

The Broncos seem to have been doing enough to win when they need to this season, but their 3-3 record is unimpressive when you compare it to their expectations for the season.

After signing debatably the biggest free agent quarterback in the history of the NFL in Peyton Manning this offseason, the sky seemed to be the limit for the Broncos as many experts predicted them to win the AFC West without contest.

Obviously, things have not been going according to plan.

With Peyton Manning still having a, well, Peyton Manning-like season at 14 touchdowns next to four interceptions and nearly 2,000 yards, the Broncos have still only managed three wins.

Even though the Broncos only have three wins, they still remain in a tie with the Chargers after making a tremendous comeback in the second half of their primetime matchup two weeks ago between the two, defeating San Diego 35-24.

Which brings us to the Chargers, who, as mentioned before, are also sitting at 3-3 on the season.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is not having any season near Peyton Manning at the moment, while his stats show 10 touchdowns next to 9 interceptions, and nearly 1,500 yards on the season.

Rivers’ play could explain the Chargers only finding their way to three wins so far, with him being the leader of the Chargers offense, and their passing offense ranking 19th in the league, and also ranking 25th in total offense.

Defensively however, the Chargers rank 13th. So it’s obvious that the offense is going to have to pick things up if they want to win this division.

The Oakland Raiders have only managed two wins this season, but they are nowhere near being finished as they only trail Denver and San Diego by one game.

Being the only team without a bye week this past weekend, the Raiders found their second victory in overtime against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Raiders gave up an arm and a leg a season ago trading the Cincinnati Bengals for quarterback Carson Palmer, who prior to being picked up by Oakland, was on his couch watching football from the TV.

This was a risky move by the Raiders organization, as Carson Palmer has racked up about 1,700 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions this year. Nowhere near what he should be playing for what they gave up to get him in my opinion. (A first round draft pick in 2012, and a second round draft pick in 2013).

If the Raiders look to take control of the AFC West, Carson Palmer will need to play at a higher level than what he’s played at thus far into the 2012-2013 season.

We next arrive at the last place: Kansas City Chiefs.

Besides making me cry on Sundays, their hobbies include: turning the ball over and not scoring points on offense.

The Chiefs rank 29th in the NFL in points per game, averaging just 17.3 on Sundays.

Kansas City is also -15 in the turnover differential on the season, the worst in the NFL.

During their bye week, head coach Romeo Crennel announced Brady Quinn as the team’s permanent starter for the remainder of the season, benching former two-year Chiefs’ starter Matt Cassel. As the Cassel era comes to an end, it’ll be interesting to see how long the Quinn era lasts, as he did not play impressively against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the team’s last game while Cassel was out due to injury, throwing for no touchdowns and two interceptions on the day.

The Chiefs will need to make some serious changes on the offensive side of the ball if they went to have any shot towards being a division champion.

Each team has their areas for improvement, some more than others, but all still with problems nonetheless.

At this point, the AFC West is about as wide open as it gets, and it will be interesting to see how each team responds in the second half of the season.