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2009 NFL Divisional Previews: AFC West


Marc Lawrence

Marc Lawrence

Three new coaches went camping for the first time with teams in the new-look AFC WEST DIVISION this summer. Not surprisingly, none of who are expected to produce winning seasons in 2009. Welcome to the mild, mild West.
By deduction, that leaves San Diego as the team to beat in the AFC West this season. All Norv Turner needs to do is keep his team alive and in contention to December, where the Chargers are riding a 14 game win streak the final month of the season.

Can the Broncos bounce back after last year’s fatal collapse? Will the Chiefs finally find their way to the warpath? Are the Raiders finally ready to rumble?


Here is my take of teams in the AFC WEST DIVISION for 2009. Coming up next: the NFC EAST DIVISION

AFC West



The warning signs were there. After averaging more than 11 wins per season from 2003-05, the Broncos fed on a diet of 8 wins per season the last three years, all non-playoff campaigns. To confirm the depths to which Denver had fallen, take note of its 14-33-1 ATS mark the last three seasons, which, hands down, was the worst in the league. Thus, it was no surprise when Pat Bowlen parted ways with Mike Shanahan after a 14-year marriage. Josh McDaniels – another Bill Belichick disciple – takes the reins amid consternation of Bronco fans. That resulted when McDaniels told Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler to hit the bricks and settled instead on Kyle Orton via a trade that left most NFL pundits scratching their heads. We’ll see if doing things in a hard-headed manner makes McDaniels a guru or a goner, ala Lane Kiffin, the ex-Raiders coach. He’s on the clock. PLAY AGAINST: vs. Washington (11/15)


Team Theme – HALEY’S COMET

Another head coach debuts in the NFL this season when Todd Haley, the offensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals the past two seasons, takes over for Herm Edwards in Kansas City. The Chiefs went a franchise-worst 2-14 last season and have won only 2 of their last 25 games, equaling Detroit for ineptness over the same span.

GM Scott Pioli, who worked with Haley when they teamed up with the NY Jets, made a major move when he acquired Pro Bowl QB Matt Cassel from the Patriots. Cassel assumes command of the youngest offense in the league, one that actually improved 23 YPG last season. Truth be known, it’s the defense that will determine the bottom-line for the Chiefs in 2009. We’ll know more about what kind of a show this team can put on real quick, early on, when they it takes on Baltimore, San Diego and the entire NFC East before its open date on Week Eight. Whew! PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite vs. Cleveland (12/20)


Team Theme – BLACK HOLE

If Al Davis owned a casino in Las Vegas it would be boarded up and cited for mismanagement by the city. How else can you explain the Raiders fall from grace? It hardly seems possible, but it was just six years ago that Oakland lost as a favorite to Tampa Bay in SBXXXVII. Since then the Black and Silver have gone 24-72 SU and 33-62-1 ATS. In the process, Davis has pointed the finger of blame at five different head coaches, all of whom have been sucked up and spit out by that black hole in Oakland. Further evidence of Davis’ ineptitude was in this year’s NFL draft when he selected Darrius Heyward-Bey, a speed burning WR, ahead of Pro Bowl-caliber WR Michael Crabtree. Intelligence is obviously not a pre-requisite for NFL ownership. Off an inside-out effort last season (win-loss record up; stats down), expect the Raiders to be like a black hole when the playoffs come around – Invisible! PLAY AGAINST: as favorites vs. NY Jets (10/25)



To their credit, the Chargers willed themselves into the playoffs with a furious four-game push to conclude the campaign last year. In the process they became the first team in the NFL since 1955 to start a season 4-8 and make the playoffs. Were it not for four leads lost in the final 24 seconds, the path would have been easier. It’s also probably safe to say that had LB Shawn Merriman, the best defensive player in the AFC, not gone down with a season-ending injury early in the year, none of this tale would have been spun. Through it all, San Diego head coach Norv Turner managed to stave off a visit from the dreaded pink-slip man. Granted, Turner continues to own some hideous spread records as a head coach in this league (i.e. – 0-5 ATS as double-digit division chalk), but he’s got every one in this sun-drenched city convinced the Chargers are about to make a move in 2009. PLAY AGAINST: vs. Oakland (9/14)

Note: Marc Lawrence is a 30-year veteran handicapper. He finished No.1 in the nation (88-63 +25.7 Net Units) in MLB during the 2007 season as documented by Sports Watch in Las Vegas.

Comments are Welcome!!!


Marc Lawrence Has Been Handicapping Sports Professionally Since 1975 – Check Out His Weekly Picks & His DAILY MLB PLAYS Today Here at Capperspicks.com >>>


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  1. San Diego should win the AFC West going away as they are clearly the best team in the division. They just have to eliminate the costly mistakes that led to some bad loses last season.

  2. Matt Martz says:

    With the Raiders acquisition of veteran QB Jeff Garcia from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one has to ask, is Garcia’s signing going to put more pressure on QB Jamarcus Russell to play like the Raiders were hoping when they selected him first overall in the 2007 draft? Garcia is definitely a solid quarterback and should be ready to step in if Russell falters. The Raiders also received all sorts of criticism on their 2009 draft choice of WR Darrius Heyward-Be, the teams 8th overall selection. Is this just the continued obsession that owner Al Davis has always had for speed? There is no doubt that Russell will have some good targets with Heyward-Bey, Ashely Lelie and Javon Walker. RB Darren McFadden will enter the season healthy and will give the Raiders a solid running attack. Linebackers Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard and possibly the best cover corner in the NFL, Nnamdi Asomugha, anchor the defense. Oakland will finish with a 7-9 record.