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Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Wild Wild West

"The breakfast of champions is not cereal, it's the opposition" Nick Seitz

AFC West Standings

If the season ended today Roger Goodell would have to break out the abacus and perform the myriad of complex calculations which have been formulated for the sole purpose of breaking a three-way division tie; if a winner does not appear after consideration of the teams’ win-loss percentage, schedule strength, combined ranking, jersey colour, mascot performance and cheerleader pep, its boils down to an unforgiving game of heads or tails, as in days of yore.

Thankfully for Roger Goodell, and those less arithmetically gifted, there are still 8 games left in the season after which, hopefully, a clear division winner will emerge. However, before we pack away our calculators Brit Coast Offense takes a look at the AFC West teams and the likely leader of the pack come week 17. 

We can safely assume, at a bare minimum, that 10 is the magic number of wins needed to seal a playoff spot and/or the division title. In order to reach this goal the Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders will have to post a 6 -2 record, and the Broncos 7 – 1, for the remainder of the season.  (This of course assumes that the AFC West doesn't mimic the 2010 NFC West, which sent the 7-9 Seahawks to the top of the Division). So which of the AFC West 'power-houses' marches to victory?

All to Play for

All four teams will face division opponents in three of their remaining eight games. If this was the pre-season the Chargers would be the consensus favourites to dominate their lesser Division rivals and come away with the best record. Unfortunately for Charger fans this isn't the pre-season, and with the high stakes involved in every snap of every division game no team can be assured of an easy victory.

Aside from week 13, where we can probably notch a win for the Chargers against the Jags, and similarly the Raiders against the Dolphins, the remaining schedule presents itself as a daunting  challenge, to say the least. Over the next 8 weeks the AFC West opponents include the Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Jets, Bills, Packers, Lions, Vikings and Bears; talented teams that can hand anyone a loss in any given week, let alone when they are playing to secure their own footing in their respective divisions.

This further emphasises the crucial nature of the upcoming division match-ups, which are sure to entertain; perhaps, when the two next meet, we will witness a Rivers - Tebow showdown rather than beat-down . 

Tale of the Tape

According to the AFC standings the Chargers are ranked 4th and the Chiefs, Raiders and Broncos are ranked 10th, 11th and 12th respectively. The Chargers have the best ranked Offense (6th NFL - 2nd AFC) and Defence (7th NFL/AFC), whilst the Chiefs have the worst Offense (24th NFL -11th AFC) and Raiders the worst Defense (27th  NFL - 14th AFC).

However this does not really reveal the whole story, nor shed any light on who will eventually come out on top:

Philip Rivers is without question the best quarterback in the division – Carson Palmer may not get the rust off in time to save the Raiders’ season and Tim Tebow may not get the ball off in time for the end of the season – meanwhile Matt Casell is so far the only quarterback in the league to have suffered a loss at the hands of the Fins. Unfortunately, as a result of Rivers' inconsistent play this season he hasn't really been able to distinguish himself amongst the group. Rivers leads the league with 14 interceptions thrown, say what you want about Tebow but he has only thrown one interception during his short time at the helm. Rivers has 11 TD passes so far, which is only two more TD passes than Casell, and five more than Tebow who was not the starter at the beginning of the season. 

Despite their modest rankings, Oakland and Denver can always rely on the running game of McFadden (614yds 4TDs) and McGahee (623yds 3 TDs)  to push them over the top, and with Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates roaming the field the Chargers are only ever one pass away from a winning TD. On the other side of the ball the Chiefs are ranked third in the league in interceptions with 13, which is more than double the 21st ranked Broncos measly tally of 6. The Broncos have also amassed 20 sacks which is slightly more than the Chiefs 9 (Von Miller has amassed 6.5 alone).

In short it would appear that no team has the complete package - regardless of where they happen to rank in the Conference.

And the Winner is....

No idea - but its going to be an entertaining show as the rest of the season plays out. The smart money would always be on the late-blooming Chargers to limp their way into the playoffs, but if this season has taught us anything its that the smart choice can quickly be made to look stupid. Come week 17 one of the four teams constituting the AFC West will stand atop the pile; failing that we'll just toss a coin - I call heads.

1 comment:

  1. Great breakdown of the AFC West so far. My only disagreement would be that I don't know if any of the teams can make it to 10 wins. Given the strength of schedule, I would lean toward the Raiders having the easier (if it could even be called easy) of the two. We talked about this last night on the round table portion of the show, about 35 minutes in (

    Great breakdown, tonight's game should give us an idea of who the odds on favorite will be. The key I will be watching for is if the Chargers can have a statement game, not just a small victory, but a dominating victory. If not, the Raiders will be in the drivers seat, pending the outcome of the Denver @ KC match-up. A loss Sunday and Denver will certainly be out of the race, a loss for KC will end their chances as well with the tough schedule they have for the next 5 weeks.

    Just my thoughts, and as you said it will be exciting to watch the next 8 games!