Throughout the month of August The Sports Script have answered 5 key questions regarding each division in the NFL. We have gotten together our writers — Ricky Valero, Matt Wincherauk, and Chad Woodroof to answer the questions. These will lead up to the ultimate reveal of everyone’s prediction for the NFL season. Today we start off with the AFC West.
1. Which player needs to step up the most this year?
Ricky: Peyton Manning: After taking the team to a 13-3 record and securing home field advantage in the playoffs, Peyton and the Broncos were 1 and done. Its Super Bowl or bust for this team.
Chad: I’m sure everyone is going to say Philip Rivers, but I’m going to be different and go with Alex Smith. Kansas City is relying on him heavily to have steady play at the Quarterback position. Something the Chiefs haven’t had since Trent Green left the team.
Matty W.: Alex Smith really needs to step his game up with his new team this year. The Chiefs have always had a good defense, a very good running back but the missing piece was QB. I’m not a huge fan of Smith, but his playing well could mean the difference between a playoff appearance and a bust.
2. Which coach has the most pressure to win this year?
Ricky: John Fox: I would have to go with the same answer for him as I did with Peyton, its Super Bowl or Bust.
Chad: There is NO pressure on John Fox to win so that’s not who I’m going with. I’d say Dennis Allen. While San Diego and Kansas City have new Head Coaches, Allen might need to pull a horseshoe out of his butt to make sure the team is competitive as well as somewhat successful. It could cost him his job if the team has another 4-12 (or worse) season.
Matty W.: John Fox has a great QB, tons of offensive weapons and a solid D. There should be no excuse not to make the Super Bowl. This team could have some big bust potential like they did last year, and Fox is the one who needs control this ship.
3. Who is the Sleeper player to watch in the division?
Ricky: Alex Smith: I think he has every chance at succeeding in Kansas City under Andy Reid. If he can manage the offense and limit the turnovers, like the last few seasons in San Francisco, the Chiefs could be on their way to the playoffs.
Chad: I’m a little hung up on this one. I want to say Travis Kelce but I fear, being a liability in blocking, that he might not see as much playing time. Therefore, I will choose Knile Davis. He has a long history of injuries but, if he can stay healthy, will be a stellar compliment to Jamaal Charles.
Matty W.: Vincent Brown is already a very polished receiver and is just waiting to break out big time with a massive void at receiver for the Chargers. Rivers should bounce back a bit, and Brown will be the biggest benefactor.
4. Which player means the most to their team’s success this year?
Ricky: It has to be Peyton. If Denver didn’t have Manning as their Quarterback they wouldn’t be considered a Super Bowl favorite.
Chad: Peyton Manning. He’s arguably the best Quarterback our generation, as well as the previous few, have ever seen. As long as Peyton is being Peyton, Denver will roll like a well-oiled machine on offense.
Matty W.: Peyton Manning is among the greatest QBs of all time and he needs to play like one to in order for the Broncos to win. This team has taken some injury hits. Peyton and weapons such as Wes Welker should be the ones who will shoulder the burden.
5. How will the division play out?
1. Denver Broncos: 11-5 – The defensive problems through the preseason have taken this team from a 12 or 13 win team to an 11 win team.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: 10-6
3. San Diego Chargers: 4-12
4. Oakland Raiders: 4-12
1. Denver Broncos 12-4
2. San Diego Chargers 9-7
3. Kansas City Chiefs 5-11
4. Oakland Raiders 3-13
1. Denver Broncos should have no problem putting this division away. The Chiefs have improved by getting a real QB but at this point, Peyton Manning and this team despite injuries should cruise to the division crown and bye, with a 13-3 record.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: 8-8
3. San Diego Chargers: 5-11
4. Oakland Raiders: 3-13