Count me perplexed as to why most national experts still believe the Denver Broncos are the team to beat in the AFC West this season. The team has already lost Left Tackle, Ryan Clady, for the season. That means, 39-year old, Peyton Manning, will have one lest weapon in his arsenal.
The fact the future Hall of Fame Quarterback has chosen to ignore father time, and play one final season in the NFL, should be the nudge the Kansas City Chiefs need to regain a foothold on the AFC West.
Manning’s career to date has been stellar. Forget his playoff difficulties, we in Kansas City can’t judge him for that – considering we’re zero for eight in our last playoff appearances, the man still commands immense respect.
The Chiefs enter the final stages of their off-season workouts this month and it’s hard to believe, they won’t be a double-digit winner this season. They have more than enough weapons on offense, a steady defense and some of the best special teams performers in the game today, to be relegated to second best in the AFC West.
The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers had terrific off-seasons. The Silver and Black have enough talent to erase their miserable season a year ago to climb back to some semblance of respectability.
The Lightning Bolts, on the other hand, possess enough player cache, to give the Broncos and Chiefs a run for division supremacy. In fact, they can win it.
As Head Coach, Andy Reid, continues to implement his coaching style and wisdom on his players, the overall sense I get is the belief the 2015 team has a stronger base and more playmakers at their disposal than at anytime I can remember in the last decade to win division titles again for this franchise.
With names such as Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce on offense, and Justin Houston, Dontari Poe, Tamba Hali, Sean Smith and Derrick Johnson on defense, why aren’t the Chiefs the run away favorite in this division?
To answer that question, Manning just seems to be the sexier pick. In what should be his last year of NFL ball, the Broncos Quarterback strikes fear in his opponents. Forget age, injuries and the belief his skills are eroding, most Chiefs fans view him as a better quarterback than their own.
Alex Smith gets a bum rap in Kansas City. For the last two years, the man has taken a beating every Sunday, yet rises from the ashes gutting it out on the field snap after snap. It’s remarkable, when you consider he’s never had a solid offensive line at his disposal, like the one that potentially exits in 2015, you have to marvel at the fact he’s only missed a single game in his tenure with the Chiefs due to injury.
Still this is Manning’s division until some team rises up and defeats the NFL legend. The Chiefs and Chargers have the weapons but to me Kansas City still has the edge.
If you consider talent alone, the Broncos lead the pack. However, when you factor in coaching, system and NFL logic, the Chiefs appear to be a better overall ascending team. Still the key will be the razors edge in which Reid and Smith conduct their business this season in Kansas City.
I can’t see Manning riding the success train much longer. The Broncos are both an old team and one in transition with new Head Coach, Gary Kubiak. As the top man in Houston running the Texans, he never built an AFC championship team.
The fact, Kubiak will have to engineer a win or bust season with Manning under center, could ultimately be their demise. In Kansas City, Reid is entering year three with everything in place to overtake the Broncos.
With the addition of Manning four years ago, the Broncos were built to win over night. In Kansas City, roster purges, coaching changes and salary cap nightmares, made their rise to contenders much slower.
Either way both the Broncos and Chiefs are in the same spot. Each has something to prove and both desperately want to win the AFC West. In the end, as it generally ends up, the team that makes the most plays, and stays away from serious injury, will win the division.
In 2015, my bet is on the Chiefs. After all, if you take out all the logic, it might boil down to one simple item that fuels my confidence they’ll win the AFC West – it’s their turn.