Hackin’ the NFL by Nolan Hack: Predictions (AFC West)
This Broncos offense is loaded. Peyton Manning is pretty good at getting his teammates the ball. Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker will find the ball time and time again. Add underrated guard Louis Vasquez and downhill-runner Montee Ball to the mix, and the Broncos have an offense that the city of Denver hasn't seen since the days of Davis and Elway.
Safety Rahim Moore’s deficiencies are even more glaring with future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey on the decline. Wesley Woodyard will move over to middle linebacker to begin the season. Woodyard is a very underrated player, but he's not used to taking on blocks in the teeth of the defense and he also lacks size. Von Miller's suspension makes the shaky Broncos linebacking core even weaker.
The Broncos play in the weakest division in football, and with Manning at the helm of their high powered offense, Denver will able to win the division with ease. If Manning can step up instead of step down in those big playoff moments, then this franchise has a great shot at getting ring number three.
Best Offensive Player: Peyton Manning
Best Defensive Player: Von Miller
Projected 2013 Record: 11-5
Kansas City Chiefs
The pravailing thought is that this team will improve; they only won two games last season, so improving won't be very hard to do.
Eric Fisher makes Kansas City's offensive line one of the best league's best. Jamaal Charles has established himself as an elite running back. The Chiefs re-signed Dwayne Bowe. 2nd round pick Travis Kelce will be a steal if he stays out of trouble, but Anthony Fasano and Dexter McCluster need to step up in order to give Alex Smith a third option to throw to.
With San Francisco, Smith was running what I called "the high school offense." I called it that because mostly he threw dump off passes, something many high school quarterbacks can do. Unless Reid's game plan to make Kansas City a pass-happy offense was just an offseason/preseason ruse, he'll be taking the ball out his best player's hands (Jamaal Charles), and putting it in one of his weakest player’s hands (Smith). Smith has a weak arm and can be very timid as a quarterback. I wouldn't be surprised if backup quarterback Chase Daniel started at some point during this season.
The Chiefs already talented defense will be improved across the board. Mike DeVito will add stout run defense upfront. Cornerback Sean Smith brings his strong arms and quick feet to the secondary.
At the end of the day, having Denver in the division, and Smith holding back the Chiefs offense, their ceiling will be a wild card birth and a 1st round exit. Their floor will consist of picking in the top-half of the draft for the third straight year.
Best Offensive Player: Jamaal Charles
Best Defensive Player: Tamba Hali
Projected 2013 Record: 6-10
San Diego Chargers
When San Diego was getting knocked out of the playoffs every year, Chargers fans held their heads in disappointment. Chargers fans would love to have those days back. The Chargers have finished below the playoff line in each of the last three seasons.
Phillip Rivers’s talent is leaving his body faster than new head coach Mike McCoy can blow his whistle in practice. The formerly great Antonio Gates shares something in common with his quarterback, Gates's best days are behind him as well.
The defense is the best thing about this team, especially up front. Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes are one of the better 5-technique duos in the NFL. Donald Butler and Manti Te'o are an underrated group in the middle, and cornerback Derek Cox joins the Chargers to help a secondary that has struggled in recent years.
San Diego's defense isn't elite, so it won't be able to lift up the offense and the team to a winning record.
Best Offensive Player: Ryan Matthews
Best Defensive Player: Eric Weddle
Projected 2013 Record: 4-12
There isn't a worst roster in the NFL than Oakland's. The Raiders lost talented defensive tackle Desmond Bryant and tight end Brandon Myers in free agency. An abysmal roster has gotten even worse.
Matt Flynn can't throw deep balls, but was brought in to be the starter. The late Al Davis was always headstrong about having a deliberate, vertical passing game. Flynn was so unimpressive during the preseason, Oakland is looking to start run-first quarterback Terrell Pryor. Pryor is not an NFL-caliber passer. To be fair to Pryor, he's like many Raiders starters who possess backup-level talent.
The 2008 Lions went 0-16 with Calvin Johnson. This Oakland squad has no player of that caliber. A winless season is a real possibility for the Silver and Black.
Best Offensive Player: Marcel Reece
Best Defensive Player: Philip Wheeler
Projected 2013 Record: 1-15