NFL Preview Bonanza: AFC West

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Last Season: 8-8

This Season: 13-3, AFC #1

Everything sets up perfectly for San Diego to cruise to the top seed in the AFC. Shawne Merriman is back, meaning the defense will transform from bad to above-average. LaDainian Tomlinson can’t be as bad as he was last year, and Darren Sproles should spell him more. Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers are good No. 2 receivers. Antonio Gates should be healthy. Oh, and did I mention they play in the AFC West? I’d be stunned if the Chargers lost more than one divisional game this year. I don’t know what they’ll do once they get to the playoffs, but I don’t expect the Chargers to have to leave San Diego.

Tim’s favorite player in San Diego charger history is…: He was a big-time part of that run to the Super Bowl in 1994, he was briefly a Giant, he was arguably the fifth-best tight end in Charger history. He’s none other than Alfred Pupunu!

A Great and Recent Charger Game: While San Diego has rung the Colts’ bell a few times the last several seasons (twice in the playoffs and once to end Indy’s undefeated season), the road victory to close out the RCA Dome in 2007 is probably the best of the three.

I forgot Billy Volek was huge in that game: It’s about time we go ahead and anoint Billy the best backup in the NFL.

I also forgot LaDainian Tomlinson was once good: It’s arguable that nobody in football has had their on-field reputation fall more in the last year or so than Tomlinson’s. That’s part of the reason I expect a bounceback season from LdT.

If the Chargers were the career of an actor, they would be: Paul Rudd. They’ve been on the verge of stardom for so long; they just need the proper vehicle to put it all together. (I Love You, Man, though funny, did not put it ALL together.)

Are you really getting through this without once mentioning the Merriman/Tila Tequila thing? What can I say? I don’t do “topical” humor.

Did you know? The Chargers were right to fire Marty Schottenheimer.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Last Season: 2-14

This Season: 9-7

Bear with me here: Yes, Kansas City lost 14 games last year, and they traded their best player in Tony Gonzalez. But, they upgraded at head coach (with Todd Haley) and quarterback (with Matt Cassel), and you should be able to hand them at least 3-4 wins within the division. An offense with Haley calling the plays, Cassel at QB, Larry Johnson in the backfield, and Dwayne Bowe catching passes could be one of the AFC’s best. The defense isn’t great, but it doesn’t have to be for KC to improve drastically from a season ago.

Tim’s favorite player in Kansas City Chief history is…: Hard not to go with the Nigerian Nightmare, Christian Okoye.

Who? Have you ever played Tecmo Super Bowl? You can’t tackle that dude!

A Great and Recent Chief Game: Cut me some slack, it’s hard to find a recent great game for a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1993. (Curse you, Lin Elliott!) So we’ll go back to that ’93 season and the Monday Night classic between Montana and Elway, won by the former in the final seconds.

That’s right; the Broncos used to wear orange! Yeah, that’s why we call those the good old days.

If the Chiefs were a character from The Simpsons, they would be: The flirtatious girl in Bart’s class that never has a line but is always sitting behind him. I’m intrigued by that girl. Not surprisingly, I can’t find a picture of her, but she’s there.

Did you know? The Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game since 1993. Just making sure you’re paying attention.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Last Season: 5-11

This Season: 5-11

I thought I was giving the Raiders some dap with five wins; I’m pretty stunned they won that many last year. Darren McFadden will be a star, but this is a franchise that will have to live with the JeMarcus Russell selection for a long time (along with: the Darrius Heyward-Bey selection, the Robert Gallery pick, the hirings of Bill Callahan, Art Shell, and Lane Kiffin, the Richard Seymour trade, the relocation to Oakland, etc.). But hey, look up Raider fans: Nnamdi Asomugha is good. And I mean, real good.

Tim’s favorite player in Oakland Raider history is…: The last man with my name to win the Heisman, Tim Brown. Successful scatback Napoleon Kaufman and former speedster James Jett round out the top three.

A Great and Recent Raider Game: The Jets had beaten the Raiders in Week 17 to clinch a playoff berth and a return trip to Oakland for a wild back-and-forth affair sealed late by the underrated Charlie Garner.

Is Charlie Garner really underrated? I mean, a little. Not that much.

Was the Snow Game, which followed a week after the win over the Jets, the NFL’s equivalent of Francisco Cabrera murdering the Pittsburgh Pirates? Not quite, because Oakland made the Super Bowl a year later. But losing Jon Gruden after the 2001 season is probably what prevented the Raiders from winning that Super Bowl (in more ways than one), and the Raiders didn’t realize how quickly the window was closing on a nucleus of Rich Gannon, Brown, and Jerry Rice. Since then, in a league replete with parody, the Raiders (and Lions) are the only two teams where making the playoffs seems beyond comprehension.

If the Raiders were a website, they would be: Pitchfork. Because they still think they’re always right.

Did you know? Al Davis was once considered a good owner.

DENVER BRONCOS

Last Season: 8-8

This Season: 4-12

Ooh, it’s gonna be a low year a mile high. The Cutler fiasco and the Marshall situation certainly don’t bode well for Josh McDaniels’ tenure, and it’s going to be tough for McDaniels to rationalize a 12-loss season to a fan base not used to them. The offense isn’t bad. Orton is a serviceable quarterback, Eddie Royal a good receiver, and I expect big things from Jersey Guy Knowshon Moreno. The defense, on the other hand, leaves more than a little to be desired, and the schedule—especially early—does Denver no favors.

Wow, a Jersey reference. How surprising: I just want to take this chance to point out that both running backs taken in the first round (Moreno and the Colts’ Donald Brown) are not only Jersey Guys, but Monmouth County guys. They played in the same high school conference I would have played in, if I went to a high school that played football, and if I played football for that non-existent team.

Tim’s favorite player in Denver Bronco history is…: I was mad when the Giants cut him, I was madder when they broke his leg on Monday Night Football. Ed McCaffrey, everybody!

A Great and Recent Bronco Game: It’s been a relatively lean last few seasons for the Broncos, who have lost in Week 17 a few times to cost them a playoff berth. But it’s easy to forget they made it to the AFC Championship Game in 2005, thanks to handing Tom Brady his first career postseason defeat.

Oh, man, that was a crazy play with Champ Bailey! Still think it should have been a safety. What a play by Ben Watson anyway.

Who was Denver’s quarterback that year? Jake Plummer. Seriously!

If the Broncos were a classic sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, they would be: Too easy: The Argument Clinic.

Did you know? That win over New England is the Broncos’ only playoff win since John Elway retired.

2 responses to this post.

  1. not a lot of issues but some commentary…

    “Tim’s favorite player in San Diego charger history is…: He was a big-time part of that run to the Super Bowl in 1994, he was briefly a Giant, he was arguably the fifth-best tight end in Charger history. He’s none other than Alfred Pupunu!”

    I would say Stan Humphries for some of the same reasons…but yes, pupunu is a great choice…for the longest time I thought his name was “pupununu” (might have been wistful thinking, idk)
    (I also always kind of liked natrone means)

    “I forgot Billy Volek was huge in that game: It’s about time we go ahead and anoint Billy the best backup in the NFL.”

    This seems dated to me…I mean, he did have a breakout season with the titans in 2004…

    “Did you know? The Chargers were right to fire Marty Schottenheimer.”

    Yes, but equally wrong to hire Norval Turner…

    “If the Chiefs were a character from The Simpsons, they would be: The flirtatious girl in Bart’s class that never has a line but is always sitting behind him. I’m intrigued by that girl. Not surprisingly, I can’t find a picture of her, but she’s there.”

    Yeah, I looked as well. Didn’t find her either (though I did stumble upon a large amount of disgusting simpsons porn. I didn’t particularly care for it)

    You mention the lack of recent playoff success for two of these teams, though I don’t think this is that exceptional http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Cowboys

    Reply

  2. […] know, I know. I killed the Broncos last season. I said they would win four games, and they started 6-0. I said they were the worst undefeated team […]

    Reply

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