As you might have noticed I haven't been posting the last couple of days. I have been at the Uncle's house on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia, which has no internet or cable connection. Which means I have no idea what has been going on with the Bucs or anything much else sports related. I did catch the Miami-FSU game, and FSU was really luck to win that game. Their quarterback play was ugly, but, as usual, the defensive front seven carried FSU.
Anyway, on to my NFL season previews. Obviously, I am pretty far behind on my one conference a day schedule, which means to catch I will be posting two conference previews today (AFC and NFC Wests). Right now you get the AFC West, which features some of the better offenses in the NFL, and (assuming my internet holds out at my apartment) I will post the NFC West preview later today. Just a reminder I have the teams ranked in the order I expect them to finish in the division, and have noted which teams I believe will make the playoffs.
San Diego Chargers (Playoffs)
The Chiefs could end up deposing the Chargers from the top spot in what should be the best offensive division in the NFL. The AFC West has the best runningback (L.T.), the best receiver (Moss) and two of the best rushing games (KC and Denver). The team that wins this division will be the one with the best defense, which right now is San Diego (#11 last season).
The scary thing about the Chargers is that their offense could be even better this season. Drew Brees will have better receivers to start the season. Keenan McCardell (love him or hate him) is still one of the more reliable recievers in the league, and Reche Caldwell looked really good before going down with an injury last season. Throw in a healthy LaDainian Tomlinson and a happy Antonio Gates, and only the Colts and Vikes have more weapons on their offenses.
Kansas City Chiefs (Playoffs)
The Chiefs have the best offensive line in football. Their quarterback, runningback and receivers are all castoffs from other teams, yet the Chiefs had the second best offense last season. None of their receivers scare opposing defenses yet they averaged 143 rushing yards (5th best) last season.
On top of that the Chiefs have Tony Gonzalez, a guy who can lay down a pancake block one play, and then catch a 20 yard touchdown the next play. Gonzalez, along with Shannon Sharpe, redefined the tightend position, which led to guys like Antonio Gates coming out of nowhere to set touchdown records for a tightend in a season. Plus, to steal a line from Bill Simmons, Gonzalez is like old porn you haven't seen in a while -- sure, the music's a little familiar, and so are the faces, but it's still porn (and yes that's meant as a compliment).
Has anybody's stock risen faster in the past year than Kerry Collins? He goes from getting kicked out of New York by Eli Manning, to starting on a team with the best receiving corp in the NFL. Leaving New York was the best thing that could have happened to him. Moss is the best receiver in the league (when he feels like it) and Jerry Porter, when healthy, is next to impossible to cover. Throw in Ronald Curry (one of the best Hampton Roads high school athleets ever) along with LaMont Jordan and nobody can match Oakland's upside.
The biggest knock on Collins is that he throws too many interceptions. Last season he threw 21 tds and 20 ints, and for his career he has 153 tds and 154 ints. On top of that, Oakland had the 31st ranked offense last season and are unlikely to significantly improve that ranking. Those two facts should guarantee Oakland finishes with a losing record.
Mike Shanahan is a one trick pony who found success through a offensive blocking scheme which should be illegal.
He inherited John Elway and then instituted a zone blocking scheme on the offensive line that makes sixth round runningbacks look like Pro Bowl players. Since winning two Super Bowls he has made questionable decision after questionable decision. Its almost like he decided to say "what the fuck?" and go with any old idea that popped into his head.
"Go after Jake Plummer, a quarterback who is notorious for making bad decisions in big games?" Check.
"Bring in the entire defensive line from one of the worst teams in football, the Cleveland Browns?" Check.
"Draft Maurice Clarett in the third round when my team needs receivers?" Check.
But you have to give Shanahan this, his teams have still been competitive despite numerous rolls of the dice. In a way, that has become his competitive edge, take a chance on talented guys everyone else has given up on. Last season it worked for him with the 9th ranked offense and 10th ranked defense. This year it catches up with him.