Peyton Manning improves the AFC West. Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon SMI
Is the AFC West the best division in football now that Peyton Manning has joined the Denver Broncos? I think the Western Division is the best in the AFC and only behind the NFC North as the best division in football, The NFC South is pretty good but I see both the Falcons and Saints taking a step back.
In the AFC the North has the Patriots but they have a weak defense and the Jets are going to tank, I do like the Bills to take a major step up though. From top to bottom the West is the best in the AFC.
The defending champions of the West are the Denver Broncos who lost no major free agents and added Peyton Manning. Now of course Manning has sat out a season and is getting up in years but if healthy then he improves the Broncos drastically over Tim Tebow.
Jack Del Rio has joined the Broncos as defensive coordinator and will install the 4-3 defense that he and John Fox love. The Broncos will be good on defense and better on offense making them a Super Bowl contender.
The San Diego Chargers did lose Vincent Jackson to free agency but this is a solid team from top to bottom. Phillip Rivers is the key and maybe the best quarterback in the division despite an off year in 2011. The San Diego Chargers are classic underachievers under Norv Turner but the talent is there to win the division or advance in the playoffs from a wild card spot.
The Kansas City Chiefs have quietly had a nice free agency signing period and this team is solid. The Chiefs now have Romeo Crenel full time as the head coach after possibly tanking to get Todd Haley fired last year. The Chiefs are going for an old school look with a strong defense and running game from the offense. Matt Cassel is good enough when he has time to make the Chiefs a good team in the AFC West.
The Oakland Raiders as always are an enigma. The Raiders may knock off a Super Bowl contender one week then lose to a bad team the next. Yet another new coaching staff will slow the team at first but if Carson Palmer jells in the offense the Raiders are better than any fourth place team from other divisions.
While the AFC West isn’t ready to challenge the Packers, Lions and Bears (oh my) the division can hang with all the others in the NFL. Who knows the Super Bowl representative for the AFC may well come from the West this year.