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Shot From The Dark Into The Dark - AFC West
By Wade Pearce
Special to gzl-football.com

I might do this for all divisions...quite possibly not because like a cat I get bored and wander off.

Denver Broncos

2013 Record: 4-10
2014 Record: 8-8

I seriously considered myself an outside chance at 6-10 this season. And there's now way I would've picked the Broncos to be the only team that actually improved on their record from 2013 in the AFC West. But that is what happened. Some of it came from Kevin Minter putting Andrew Luck on his arse for half the season. Some of it came from the Raiders reacquainting Blaine Gabbert with the physiotherapist again. Personally, I blame luck and crackpot theories on starting punters. Realistically, the Broncos are an 8-8 team next season as well, which is where Year 2 of the Broncos Revival Plan is scheduled to be at. We can't break everybody's toys every year.

Kansas City Chiefs

2013 Record: 8-8
2014 Record: 8-8

I was kind of surprised by this. Sure, Andrew Luck only had the bad kind and spent too much time playing with rubber bands but the Chiefs underperformed. And where they underperformed was in the AFC West. A 2-4 divisional record will not win divisions. And that's what has me worried. I can't see the Chiefs dialling it in in divisional games for a second season running, particularly if Luck is behind center, which means the Chiefs are realistically a 10-6 team and could push for 11-5. They can challenge for the AFC West and should be capable of making both their first winning record and their first playoff appearance.

San Diego Chargers

2013 Record: 11-5 (Super Bowl Champion)
2014 Record: 7-9

Let's face it...short of winning the Super Bowl again, your season is going to have been considered a backwards step. But this was a little too backwards to not fall into the category of "Super Bowl Hangover". And the season was killed in much the same manner as the Chiefs with an even more abysmal 1-5 record against AFC West opponents. I can't even blame a long-term injury to Blaine Gabbert for the problem because it didn't stop them from winning the big one the year before. At this point I would expect John to look up from polishing his two Lombardi Trophies and sniff haughtily at me. So that being said, 1) It's hard to be critical of a team that has two Lombardi's in the cabinet; and 2) They should be a 9-7 team at least next season. And I only go that low because I expect Gabbert to get injured again...

Oakland Raiders

2013 Record: 11-5
2014 Record: 10-6

The Raiders won the division but did it on a worse record than the season they came second. An extra game won in the division was what gave them the break they needed. The change in record was also represented in the playoffs with the Raiders not making it past the wildcard round. The Raiders are closing in on a QB reboot and Vick only put 17 TDs combined on the board all season. If they can't score more from him, they'll have to bite the bullet and reboot the position. And a reboot is never a seamless transition. Reboot or not though, I think Vick's scoring production problems aren't going to magically heal overnight. The Raiders can push for a double-digit win column again but I think with a firing Chiefs outfit, the team will lose a game on this season and be more likely to go 9-7.

Caveat

As the title says, this is a shot into the dark based on a straw poll of two seasons to analyse a trend. I dare people to prove me wrong. But that shouldn't be hard...I only pulled this stuff from a place the sun don't shine anyway Smile
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