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Old 08-28-2008, 04:31 AM   #5
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: San Francisco, CA
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Cool A Closer Look: AFC West

San Diego Chargers: 13-3
Norv Turner showed playoff moxie Marty Schottenheimer infamously lacked, Philip Rivers has proven to be more than adequate consolation prize for Eli Manning, and LaDainian Tomlinson is, well, LaDainian Tomlinson. Add a defense that is getting better every year and, if anything, is underrated. So what's not to like about Southern California's lone professional football franchise? Even the schedule seems cooperative; a Candlemas Eve date in Tampa awaits?

Oakland Raiders: 6-10
If they keep getting to draft big-name skill-position players (last year JaMarcus Russell, this year Darren McFadden) at this rate, sooner or later it has to show up in the W-L record; of course it would help if underachieving O-line finds will to block and Javon Walker signing at WR pans out. Defense will also need a hefty return from two rather high-risk off-season investments - DT Tommy Kelly and CB DeAngelo Hall - but hey, someone has to complete the exacta in this division, and if they can win as many as a half-dozen games for what would be the first time since 2002, that modest honor could be theirs for the taking.

Denver Broncos: 5-11
Perhaps no NFL team has won fewer games than their on-paper talent would suggest over the past two seasons than this one - and now that talent has been depleted by two key suspensions, both on offense (WR Brandon Marshall for first three games and RB Travis Henry for the entire season, and subsequently released). Run defense was terrible early on last year, but stabilized somewhat as the season progressed, and secondary is led by one of the best in the business in CB Champ Bailey. Those back-to-back Lombardi Trophies Mike Shanahan garnered seem like they were procured in the Middle Ages, and another clunker this season would likely push him out the door; but said outcome appears inevitable at a venue that hosts the 2008 Democratic National Convention but does not figure to be the scene of any meaningful action on the gridiron this autumn.

Kansas City Chiefs: 3-13
It's hard to win when you're not even trying to win; and this team's combination of moves and non-moves of late indelibly brand them as such: They did nothing to improve what is far-and-away the league's worst QB depth chart, their offensive line has completely unraveled, and they traded the only defensive player opponents even respected, let alone feared - sack artist Jared Allen - to Minnesota. HC Herman Edwards has been hung out to dry, and John McCain has better chance of carrying Washington DC in November's Presidential election than Edwards has of keeping his job beyond the end of the season, if he even makes it that far; it doesn't get any more hopeless than this.
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