Here are my explanations for my AFC West Predictions. I will repost the standings for the division and then give a little team by team breakdown to explain my reasoning for the specific record.
San Diego Chargers...11-5
Kansas City Chiefs.......6-10
San Diego Chargers
While I have picked the Chargers to win the AFC West, I am not necessarily sold on them as a good team. As a matter of fact, I am not sold on any of the teams in this division, but I had to pick one to win and the Chargers at least have the talent to do so. I expect quarterback Philip Rivers to bounce back from a rough 2011 season despite the loss of wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Tight end Antonio Gates will be healthy and running back Ryan Matthews should have a decent year. We will want to keep an eye on the Chargers defense which I think will be porous.
Many see the addition of quarterback Peyton Manning to the defending AFC West champions as a sign of a team not only ready to take the next step, but to contend for a Super Bowl. I don't see it that way. First, we have no idea how Manning and his arm will bounce back after missing the entire 2011 season. Even if he does bounce back, how much rust will be present and how long will it take for him and his receivers to be on the same page with the language of the offense, the no huddle, and the timing routes? Manning has no real reliable receiving weapons perhaps outside of tight end Jacob Tamme. I also think Denver's defense overachieved last season. I expect to see a drop off there. Finally, the Broncos have a killer schedule. Aside from division games, the Broncos will play the Steelers, Falcons, Texans, Patriots, Ravens, Buccaneers, Panthers, and Bengals. I think Manning will pull this team together and make a second half run after a disappointing first half of the season.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are getting a number of injured players back on both sides of the ball this season. On offense, the most important return is running back Jamaal Charles. He returns from a torn ACL he suffered in week two of last season. Charles is one of the best running backs in the league and can take over games for the Chiefs. On defense, the most important return is safety Eric Berry. Despite an improved roster thanks to the returns of injured players, the Chiefs have a tough schedule which will stop them from making a playoff push.
Just when it looked like everything was starting to turn around in Oakland, the Raiders brought in a new head coach in Dennis Allen and a new general manager in Reggie McKenzie. One thing we know is that the Raiders will have a solid defense. The question for them is on the offensive side of the ball. Weak at wide receiver, it is running back or bust for the Raiders. Luckily, they have a great one in Darren McFadden. The only question is if he can stay healthy. If the Raiders had kept the same head coach, Hue Jackson, I would have considered picking them to win the division. Instead, I think they will have ups and downs as they adjust to a new system.