Wild Wild West

Predictions anyone?? 10-6, 9-7, 8-8, 6-10. No, I am not talking about the San Diego Chargers ,I am talking about the AFC West division as a whole. This could be one of the best divisions to watch in all of football this year. Between the emergence of The San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, to the Faltering of the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders.

Here it is my predictions for the standings in the West this year:

1) San Diego Chargers- I am not biased, I truly believe the Chargers will have the best offense out here in the west, with the additions of David Boston, Lorenzo Neal and Solomon Page. I believe utilizing LaDainian Tomlinson more in the offense and Drew Brees having one full year under his belt are going to benefit this team immensely. And I know the concerns are this young defense and how it will come together, but if what has been going on in training camp is a prelude to what we are going to see during the season, our young DBs will be all over the rest of the league's receivers.

My prediction: 10-6

2) Kansas City Chiefs- The two big questions marks for KC is their Defense and whether or not Priest Holmes will recover from his ailments at the end of last season. If Holmes can even be half as dangerous as he was the last 2 years, that would still be more dangerous then a lot of backs in this league. The KC offense showed last year how powerful they can be, and if they put half the effort on defense that the Offense gives; Vermeil could have the AFC West's new version of the St. Louis Rams.

My Prediction: 9-7

3) Oakland Raiders- In last years Super Bowl the Oakland Raiders showed their age. QB Rich Gannon was not his Pro Bowl quarterbacking self and they fell victim to a quicker team. Callahan did a good job of keeping this team of savvy veterans in the mind set to win all season, but age always tends to catch up with you. There are a few bright spots on this team, like the Wide receiver battle between Tim Brown and Jerry Porter (who should be out on the field). The defense is the weak link again this year. The Loss of Sam Adams and speedy End Regan Upshaw could be a detriment to this defensive line. The Raiders are also looking at some new players at the DB position.

My prediction: 8-8

4) Denver Broncos- Wow, how many times have you seen this: Broncos being picked last in the division?? Not often since the emergence of John Elway. One thing though, Elway no longer plays for the Broncos, neither does their starting Quarterback from the Last two years Brian Griese. He is now with the Dolphins. The Broncos did pick up Jake "the Snake" Plummer from the Arizona Cardinals in the off-season and they seem to be happy with him. The problem is Plummer is an interception-throwing machine and the only difference between the Cardinals and Broncos is that the Broncos have at least two good receivers, Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey, if they can stay healthy all season, that is. The defense went through a major overhaul this off-season and the only true threat the Broncos have right now is Clinton Portis, who seemed to be able to find holes that Mice could not get to. I don't see them making big waves this year in the west.

My prediction: 6-10

That is it, my predictions for the West division in the AFC. I know many believe that since I write for a Chargers publication, naturally I will pick the Chargers to take first. Wrong, believe me, if this were the same team we were fielding last year no matter how much I love the Bolts I would pick them to go 3rd. This is their year!

They have a better offense and hopefully a better defense; only time will tell, and come January they should still be practicing instead of sitting at home or out on the links like they normally are.

Tom Criswell can be reached at tcriswell1@aol.com

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