AFC WEST: Home of the West Coast Offense, meaning that they throw a football and announcers call it the West Coast Offense.
Dan "The Guru Doctor" shoots the AFC West first and asks questions later:
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs led the NFL in total offense last season, prompting Dick Vermeil to break down crying at season's end, but they also ranked second to last in total defense, prompting Vermeil to break down crying at the end of every game. He also cried after every injury, holding penalty, and any halftime shows that didn't live up to his expectations. Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez own fantasy football, but this ain't no fantasy, there's more to the real NFL than complaining about your commissioner's scoring system and trash talking via Yahoo message boards. That’s why the Chiefs brought back Gunther Cunningham as their defensive coordinator last year, apparently hoping his archaic first name would instantly make their defense tougher. This year, the Chiefs switched to the "let's actually put dudes on the field" approach, adding D-backs Sammy Knight and Patrick Surtain from the Dolphins and drafting menacing Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson. Trent Green turns the ball over too much, but he always throws for huge yards, so if their defense upgrades from drunken-uncle-on-Christmas embarrassing to mother-tells-cute-story-about-you embarrassing, there'll be plenty of reasons for the fans at Arrowhead to do their Indian-pounding-whiskey-shots gesture, or whatever that's supposed to be. The Chiefs will compete in the AFC West for Surtain.
Dick Vermeil cries after a Rams preseason game in which his second team underperformed.
2. Denver Broncos
The AFC's answer to the Packers, the once-great Broncos are becoming masters of the early playoff exit. Until Mike Shanahan decides that even he could gain 1000 yards rushing in this offense, Denver is deep at running back with Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, and Ron Dayne, who, interestingly, averaged more yards per carry in college than he totaled in his entire Giants career. Ashley Lelie and Rod Smith comprise a potential top-10 receiving duo, but I refuse to believe that Ed McCaffery is off this team until I see a conclusive autopsy report. QB Jake "The Snake" Plummer, nicknamed "The Snake" because he's capable of poisoning his team with turnovers, or, possibly, because his name rhymes with “snake” and people are clever, is the perfect quarterback for this team's "let's be good, but not Superbowl good" philosophy. The Broncos are still tough at home, likely because opposing teams are distracted by home runs from Coors Field raining on the football field during games, and yes, the Rockies only play til October, but balls still fly out of Coors year-round, they shoot out of the Dante Bichette statue in left field. The additions of Cleveland castoffs Courtney Brown and Gerard Warren should upgrade Denver's defense, though even I can't tell if I'm being sarcastic on that one. Either way, expect a 9-7 year out of the Bronc's (not The Bronx) and fierce contention to be the last team into and first out of the AFC playoffs.
The pressure's on Mike Shanahan to get the Broncos deeper into the playoffs (Artist's Conception)
3. San Diego Chargers
In this era of salary-cap-aided parity in the NFL, only one thing is certain: The San Diego Chargers will not win the Superbowl. LaDanian Tomlinson is the league's best back, and they're far from the worst team in the league, but it won't matter, every Marty Schottenheimer team must choke, it's a mathematical certainty. No, it's more than a mathematical certainty. The constant Pi has a better chance of winning the Superbowl than the Chargers. Schottenheimer choking is the middle star in Orion's belt. It's a more viable alternative energy source than wind. Did you see the Chargers last season? They went into the playoffs 12-4 and lost in the first round on a missed field goal, of which Schottenheimer commented, "All these things are in the hands of the Lord," the Lord, I assume, referring to their kicker. On a non-spiritual level, this team is in trouble. The front office will be quietly rooting for Philip Rivers to get some snaps at QB, tight end Antonio Gates is justifiably pissed about his contract, the team's done nothing to upgrade their 31st-ranked pass defense, and their top receiver is Keenan "Jimmy Smith's Covered" McCardell. Most of ESPN’s analysts have the Chargers making the playoffs, but in my opinion, these guys are all charged out. That's an expression, right?
Schottenheimer's frustrations showed last season after his twentieth straight playoff loss.
4. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders' offense is sick, sick sick. Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, and LaMont Jordan would easily combine for 40 touchdowns even if they didn't have anyone coaching them, but with Norv Turner running the show, they could conceivably reach 25 or 30. Fortunately for Kerry Collins, he won't need to be sober to drive this team down the field; throwing to Moss and Porter will be like bumper bowling, which should well suit Collins, now an eight-year-old at his friend Randy's birthday party (I think his mom bought Moss "Jenga"). If tackle Robert Gallery is healthy for the year, Jordan will outgain former teammate Curtis Martin and will give the Raiders' subpar defense some rest, something which D-linemen Warren Fatt and Ted "Bigger Than The City Of" Washington desperately need, provided Kevin Spacey's character from "Seven" doesn't murder them first. If this team's coach wasn't worthless, I'd see them competing for a wildcard, but until then, the Raiders will trash some opponents but have to settle for a vagabond life in the standings. Ah, to be a raider.
Ted Washington is hypnotically fat.