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MDS' 2010 NFL Predictions: 10 Reasons the AFC West is an Open Competition

Analogous to several NFL divisions, the AFC West is fabricated with fierce legendary rivalries.  But divergent, the enmity has seemed to have lost some of its strife with the Chargers displaying superlative dominance in recent years.

However, despite many expert analysts in the media ignoring the obvious due to overwhelming bias, many who follow the league closely have gradually taken notice that the tables have inevitably and finally turned in the AFC West.

This list breaks down why the Chargers’ power is no longer cogitated as "super" and most importantly, 10 reasons why the division is entirely an open competition.

 

Verse of this Piece

"Always remember what you have been taught, and don’t let go of it.  Keep all that you have learned; it is the most important thing in life.  Don’t follow the ways of the wicked; don’t do what evil people do." —Proverbs 4:13-15

Proverbs 4:1-12 were provided in recent work and verses 16-27 are expected to be the next to follow in stanzas of three.  I have written a verse with nearly every article I’ve conducted since I began with my 50th piece. 

This is just something small to glorify my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, without "laying it on too thick." 

I hope this will inspire someone to speak out, without fear, and perhaps one day start somewhat of a trend.  If you would like to request a verse, send me a message via inbox.  God Bless and Carpe Diem!

 

1. Bolts’ Draft Jolt

The Chargers shocked the nation on Day 1 of the 2010 NFL Draft with an earth-shattering trade.

Chargers Sent: 1st round pick (28th overall), 2nd round pick (40th overall), 4th round pick (126th overall), and LB Tim Dobbins 

Dolphins Sent: 1st round pick (12th overall), 4th round pick (110th overall), and a 6th round pick (173rd overall)

This enabled San Diego to take an unnecessary immense reach for running back Ryan Matthews, the heir apparent to the legendary future Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson.

In an effort to support the Bolts’ draft jolt, many cling to the idea that the Houston Texans had Matthews on their radar and would have taken him with the 20th pick.

The statement couldn’t be further from the truth, as the Texans had a major abyss in the secondary, and Ben Tate was their top choice for the backfield the entire time.

Matthews was extremely productive at Fresno State, but he played in the WAC, a conference not exactly recognized for tough defense. 

Albeit he’s done well at camp and is working to improve in the passing game, his experience in the area is still as slim as shady. 

There’s no doubt Matthews has very good potential, but he could have easily had been picked up as a late first round pick, and has gigantic shoes to fill.

 

2. Chargers’ Defensive Discharges and Injuries

Unfortunately for Charger supporters the first round draft jolt is a minimal obstruction in comparison to the other setbacks that have taken place this offseason.

Former standout linebacker Shawne Merriam just signed his one-year tender.  In spite of this good news, he’s had off-the-field disputes and has yet to show he can be as effective as his days prior to the knee injury that cost him all but one game in ‘08.   

Moreover, rookie Donald Butler, who was expected to shine a light of hope on the defense, has suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.  And that’s just at linebacker.

The Bolts also lost their top interior defensive lineman as well as their elite corner, Antonio Cromartie, who now belongs to the Jets.

 

3. Chargers’ Loss of Offensive Spark

With the team’s top receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeill holding out, you can expect much less production from this former powerhouse offense in 2010. 

Another obstacle recently came to the surface as McNeill’s replacement Tra Thomas just underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and could miss time early in the season.

Despite Phillip Rivers’ elite performance and a potentially solid 1-2 punch in the backfield along with the perpetual All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates at his disposal, the substandard struggling receiving corps will propel an inevitable downfall this season.

 

4. Al Davis’ Chair Incident (Satire)

The Oakland Raiders have earned notoriety over the years for making gargantuan draft leaps for players almost based only on one aspect – speed.  Oakland once again shocked the world in this past draft, but this time it was by making wise decisions.

The turn of events wasn’t plausible until the Raiders organization decided to tie owner Al Davis into a chair. 

Davis was reportedly seen blind folded at a resort in Denver, when one of the players of the Broncos released Davis. 

Luckily for the GM, there was just enough time to make a call and pick up the Clemson speedster Jacoby Ford.  Make that a trend in Oakland, because now there’s some talent.

 

5. Chiefs’ Major Upgrades

The Chiefs were predicted to be a surprising sleeper team by many analysts this time last year.  And boy were they a surprise…they slept through the whole season! 

Though Kansas City won’t be seeing a playoff run in 2010, success is on the horizon in the next few years, as they continue to press the snooze button with a rebuilding stage.

Head Coach Todd Haley has a year under his belt and aided help with the additions of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.

Matt Cassel will have a decent arsenal with Dwayne Bowe and Terrence Cooper out wide with a terrific trio tucked in the backfield.

Thomas Jones becomes a brilliant compliment to Jamaal Charles, who was second to only Chris Johnson for the most rushing yards in the last nine weeks of the ’09 season.  The Chiefs also added the very dynamic and versatile playmaker Dexter McCluster, which allows for no limitations, making it one of the best rushing attacks in the league.

The Chiefs’ defense will remain a weakness, but should improve some with a better coaching staff and the help from the extremely lethal safety Eric Berry.

 

6. Raiders Rid Russell

After cutting out the disease that was JaMarcus Russell, the Oakland Raiders are finally ready to get back into the playoff picture and contend for the AFC West division title. 

I was very pleased when Washington traded Jason Campbell to Oakland, as I had predicted the exchange to occur a few days before the draft.

Russell’s numbers plummeted down the toilet from Day 1, while Campbell’s numbers have increased in yards, attempts, percentage, and completions with each passing year.  

With wide outs Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy, one of the best tight ends in the league in Zach Miller, a formidable duo in Michael Bush and Darren McFadden in the backfield, and a solid offensive line, success won’t be too hard to come by for Campbell.

 

7. Denver’s Discharged Distractions

Contrary to public opinion, Head Coach Josh McDaniels has fortified the Broncos franchise from the roots, and is in it for both the beneficial long and short run.

Brandon Marshall was an outstanding receiver, but became too much of a distraction on the field and in the locker room.  As a result, Marshall was finally traded and replaced with versatile first-round rookie DeMaryius Thomas.

Many criticize the choice of Thomas as well as Tim Tebow.  However, they both have excellent work ethic, terrific athleticism, amazing versatility, and superb leadership. 

Moreover, they come from whacky college systems and are obviously great additions for the locker room.  At least from a locker room perspective with players who excel, things are looking good for Josh McDaniels and company right now, despite the injuries.

 

8. SD Opens with KC

If this game was in the middle of the season and the Chargers still had their playmakers, Phillip Rivers could probably just stay at home.  

San Diego always has difficulty with their first few games of the season, however, and this Week 1 division clash is sure no exception, especially with numerous Charger players out with injury.  A great way to start off for a struggling team.

 

9. Broncos’ Adaptability

It was a rollercoaster ride for first-year HC Josh McDaniels and the Denver Broncos in 2009.  The Broncos showed tremendous horsepower early on in the season, conducting a 6-0 start by the middle of October.

Denver’s dominance came to an end just two weeks later following a bye, as the time off allowed enough time for the opponents to figure them out and exploit their weaknesses.

The Broncos finished second in the AFC West with a run-of-the-mill 8-8 record.  They were short of playoff birth, losing eight of their last 10 games.

However, the team now embarks on the upcoming season with just as much initiative and versatility and it’s almost anyone’s guess on how this team will finish once again.

Despite crucial injuries to superstar Elvis Dumervil and a battered backfield, this team is chock-full of great depth and resourceful weapons on both sides of the ball.

This team is easily capable of popping into the mix as Arizona, Miami, and Cincinnati have in recent years with the element of surprise. 

 

10. Schedules

Kansas City and Oakland benefit from their struggling records last season with fairly easy schedules, while Denver and San Diego envision corrosion ahead with arduous duels.

With the Chargers having several unhappy and injured stars, the Chiefs sneaking under the radar with a vastly fortified coaching staff, the Broncos remaining a conundrum, and the Raiders having a once-in-a-lifetime successful draft with a leader at quarterback, more experienced receiving corps, an improved offensive line, and revamped defensive front, this division is inevitably an open competition in 2010.

 

MDS’ Early AFC West Season Predictions

1. Denver 9-7

2. Oakland 9-7

3. San Diego 8-8

4. Kansas City 6-10

Just so we’re clear, I’ve never been a fan of any team in the AFC West. 

I thought the readers deserved an outlook not clouded in bias and by someone who possesses a nice track record with predictions. 

I wouldn’t the least be surprised to see Denver win the division in shocking fashion. 

(This article can also be seen on Bleacher Report, Sportshaze, NFLTouchdown, MDS' blog, and his new upcoming website that might launch today, the same day Sports Illustrated was founded, 56 years later).

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