We’re gonna try something a bit different this week. I’m not just going to look back at what happened last weekend and predict the scores for the upcoming week. Today, we are going to take what might be to some a painful look at why the AFC West is currently the worst division in the NFL.
We knew the schedule would be tough this year, but that is no excuse for the ineptitude and comedy of errors that has taken place in this division. Either these teams are underachieving or we all overrated them.
Starting with the coaches, I see two right away who are going to be on the hot seat all year: Norv Turner and Romeo Crennel. Turner’s job is on the line anyway, but given how bad this division is, to not win it would be the nail in the coffin of his time in San Diego.
Crennel, on the other hand, has done less with more talent than any coach in the league in 2012. You could say he has taken Turner’s place in that respect. Right now, the only thing that would save his job is a division title.
I don’t like the move John Fox made in bringing on Jack Del Rio, as it seems the defense has taken a step back under his control. We’ll see if it comes back to haunt him later on.
As far as Dennis Allen, I have to think he’ll get a chance to put more of his own stamp on this team before Reggie hands him a pink slip. He gets a pass for this year.
Looking at the quarterbacks, we have a has been, an almost was, and should be, and a coulda been.
Starting with the has been, it is nice to see Peyton Manning back in a uniform for nostalgia’s sake. Other than that, it has been kind of sad. As I watched him play the Patriots on Sunday, it was sad to see a shell of the former Manning dinking and dunking and throwing intermediate passes that you knew wouldn’t be enough to challenge even the most inexperienced Belichick defense. It is my sincere hope that he goes out with a win this year and then retires, perhaps beginning a career in coaching where I think he’d excel.
Moving on to the almost was, we have Raider Nation’s own Carson Palmer. Palmer has never gotten back to the form he had before that fateful day when a Steeler D-lineman rolled into his knee. He was an upgrade over JaMarcus Russell, giving the Raiders a much needed veteran presence in the lockerroom, but it is time to move on and look for the quarterback of the future this offseason.
Philip Rivers is the should be. A couple of years ago, it seemed like he was poised to join the ranks of the elite. It seems he has taken a step back recently, and there really is no explanation why. It may take a coaching change, perhaps even a change of location, for Rivers to get back to his old form.
The coulda been is Matt Cassel. He could have been the savior the Chiefs had been looking for to shore up the quarterback position and get back to the pinnacle of the sport. He has disappointed so far in Kansas City, but to be honest, he’s still the best option they got right now. Last Sunday, before Cassel was knocked out of the game, you could hear fans at Arrowhead chanting “We want Quinn.” No you don’t. I do think, however, anything less than a division title means canning Crennel and drafting a quarterback in April.
So that’s it. I’m chalking up the AFC West woes to coaches and quarterbacks for now.
Here are my predictions for this week’s games:
Oakland at Atlanta
Looks like the Falcons will round out their tour of the AFC West with a 4-0 record, as I don’t see how the Raiders can keep pace with Atlanta’s offense in this one.
Kansas City at Tampa Bay
I think the Chiefs figured some things out defensively against the Ravens. I’m going to say, at least for a week, Brady Quinn breathes new life into the offense and the Chiefs come away with a tough road win.
Denver at San Diego
If the Chargers can go up-tempo like New England did against this Denver defense, they should be able to put enough points on the board to outscore Manning in a shootout.