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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

2015 NFL SEASON: AFC WEST PREVIEW


  
PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Broncos 12-4
2. Chargers 12-4
3. Chiefs 10-6
4. Raiders 2-14



All I hear on television is Broncos this and Broncos that. Enough with the Broncos talk!!!

(ummmm…. Michael, you live in Colorado…)

Well, then…

Clearly the Broncos are in a period of transition. Tight end Julius Thomas was wooed away to Jacksonville. John Fox left to take the head coaching job in Chicago. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is the new head coach in Oakland.

Replacing Fox and Del Rio are names familiar with the Bronco faithful. Head coach Gary Kubiak was a backup quarterback to now-Broncos general manager John Elway from 1983-91 until he enter coaching. Kubiak was the Broncos offensive coordinator from 1995-2005, during that time period they won two Super Bowls. This is Kubiak’s second head coaching stint having coached the Texans for 8 seasons leading them to their first playoff appearances in team history in 2011 and 2012. Last season Kubiak was the Ravens offensive coordinator.

The Broncos new defensive coordinator is Wade Phillips. This is his second appearance in Denver. Phillips was the Broncos defensive coordinator and later head coach from 1993-94. In 2013 he served as the Texans interim coach after the team fired Gary Kubiak.

Denver is hoping that CJ Anderson will provide a consistent rushing attack along with their defense led by linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware to transform the team to a more physical team.

As shown since 2012, Denver has the ability to put the ball in the air with Emmanuel Sanders and Demarius Thomas catching passes from future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. I am sure that Manning will still have the ability to light up the scoreboard despite admitting that he cannot feel anything in his right fingertips. This was a result of the neck surgery that resulted in him missing the entire 2011 season. Despite this, Manning’s numbers improved since his arrival in Denver. Manning has a higher completion percentage and quarterback rating than his time with the Colts.

This new rushing attack is similar to what Denver implemented during their Super Bowl years as part of an effort to extend the career of John Elway. Last season there was concern about Manning’s durability down the stretch. In the first eight games, Manning posted a 24-5 TD-to-INT ratio compared to a 15-10 TD-to-INT ratio in the last eight games. Though in both halves of the season Denver posted identical 6-2 records.

Speaking of records, here is one that no team wants to be known for.

Name the Chiefs wide receivers that caught a touchdown in 2014.

That’s correct. There weren’t any. No Chiefs wide receiver caught a touchdown pass in 2014.

The last time a Chiefs wide receiver caught a regular season touchdown pass was Dwayne Bowe on 8 December 2013.

On 8 December 2013 I was 16 days from my move to Colorado.

The last team to achieve this feat were the 1964 New York Giants. The NFL Champions for that season were the Cleveland Browns.

Kansas City is not a bad team. They did beat the Super Bowl participants, New England and Seattle, at home. Running back Jamaal Charlers rushed for 1,033 yards and 9 touchdowns. Despite not completing a touchdown pass to a wide receiver, quarterback Alex Smith posted an 18-6 TD-to-INT ratio. Kansas City started 2014 with a 2-3 record. After the bye week, the team returned by winning 5 straight wins. Then a 3 game losing streak that began with losing to the winless Raiders in primetime. Kansas City finished their final 6 games winning 2 games to bring their final record to 9-7.

Andy Reid in his 16 years as an NFL head coach has only missed the playoffs once in back-to-back seasons; his last two seasons in Philadelphia when the Eagles went 8-8 in 2011 and in 2012 went 4-12 resulting in him being fired.

Speaking of teams that haven’t made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, the Raiders.


Despite hiring a new head coach I do not see this team breaking their playoff drought this season. Quarterback Derek Carr threw 21 TDs vs. 12 interceptions in his rookie season and there is some talent on this team, but the outlook is not good.

According to ESPN, the Raiders are projected to win 5.23 games and have a 1.4% chance of making the playoffs. Whoever calculated the Raiders to win that many games this season is being generous. The odds of the Raiders hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in nearby Santa Clara, CA according to Las Vegas is 100-1.

Basically if the Raiders are to make the playoffs, I would suspect that members of the Black Hole made a Faustian bargain with ironic consequences.


I saved the Chargers for last because I do not think that they will win the AFC West but they are on par talent wise with the Broncos. San Diego will be a challenge for the Broncos’ efforts to win their 5th consecutive AFC West title. Bleacher Report even asks the question should the Chargers be a favorite in the AFC. It makes a compelling case on why the Chargers should be considered because they made improvements on both sides of the ball and gave quarterback Phillip Rivers more of a supporting cast by adding receiver Stevie Johnson and trading up in the draft to select running back Melvin Gordon.

If Denver stumbles, San Diego could win the division. However with Manning and more focus on the running game, Denver should win the division and San Diego will claim one of the two wild card spots.

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