What is it that makes everyone simply dismiss the AFC West? It hosts three of the NFL’s most prolific offfenses, and has some of the top end talent in the league. The San Diego Chargers, despite a mere 6-6 record, are one of the most productive teams statistically, but they can’t seem to get the better of their opponents. The Kansas City Chiefs are still the but of a lot of jokes, even though they have posted an AFC West best 8-4 record and the top rushing attack in the league. The Oakland Raiders, yeah, I said it, the Oakland Raiders are putting up good numbers and have shown they can win games. So, why can’t they get any love?
The San Diego Chargers are averaging 397.4 yards per game. That’s just under 400 yards. Per game. With the game on the line, the ‘Bolts let quarterback Philip Rivers throw the ball, and he nets them 303.3 yards per game. A 300 yard game from any quarterback is a pretty solid showing, and Rivers is throwing that on average. That’s all their offense. Their defense has given up the least yards in the whole league, holding opponents to 281.5 yards per game. That’s less than Rivers’s passing average, and it’s a combined stat. Why can’t they get any love? Despite their impressive statistics, the Chargers have a turnover differential of -5. That means they turn the ball over far too much for them to possibly win games.
The Kansas City Chiefs are another underrated team, however, they can win. With an AFC West best 8-4 record, the Chiefs are in an unusual position, poised to make the playoffs for the first time since Trent Green was their quarterback in 2006, and were promptly defeated by Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the playoffs. The difference this season is the two-headed monster of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, not to mention an actually effective passing game. With the top rushing attack in the NFL, the Chiefs are poised to make a run into the playoffs, and I think they can go deep. Why can’t they get any love? It beats me. Matt Cassel is playing like the franchsie quarterback he can be, and Dwayne Bowe is dominating in a tough AFC West who holds 4 of the most elite AFC cornerbacks.
Now we come to the Oakland Raiders. The Black Hole finally seems to be making a resurgence, and despite the fact that they are at a mediocre 6-6, the Raiders have shown flashes of brilliance that, if the planets all align, could allow them to slide into an AFC Wild Card spot. Where the Chargers have dominated, the Raiders have slipped, but second-chance quarterback Jason Campbell has been able to win their games with the help of the 2nd ranked rushing attack, just behind the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders are a surprising 4-0 in divisional play, and have proven that they are for real this season. Their “second-chancers” have been proven to comeback and put up big numbers, including free safety Michael Huff and outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley who have led the intimidating defense to shut down their opponents. So why can’t they get any love? The Raiders can’t seem to win outside of the division. They also can’t seem to put up huge numbers outside of the ground game, and just don’t manhandle their opponents.
With three of the most competitive teams in the AFC, the West is one of the most deceiving divisions in the league. Despite the mediocre records, if you look beneath the crust, the San Diego Chargers are one of the best teams in the league (statistically of course). The Chiefs, despite their impressive 8-4 record have been left out of the group of elite teams, and the Raiders have been a turn around team and are undefeated in division play, but have also been left out of the talks of wild card teams. The AFC West is one of the most competitive divisions in the league despite their lack of attention in the media as a top echelon group.