FROM THE STABLES: Raiders Best in the West?

Pete Prisco reviews the AFC West race and provides insight on how he thinks the division title race turns out in 2005. At the heart of his column he says, "Moss puts silver and black ahead of the pack." Check out what Warpaint Illustrated's Jerry Stith thinks about Pete's picks in the latest edition of "From the Stables."

Dateline CBS Sportsline

Sportsline - All four teams will have offenses that can put up big numbers. The best of those offenses will be in Oakland, but do the Raiders have enough on defense to win the division? With Randy Moss joining Jerry Porter to catch long passes from Kerry Collins, the offense will be as much fun to watch as any of them. In addition, LaMont Jordan will give the Raiders a pounding running back to eat up the clock in the fourth quarter. We realize the defense struggled last season, but there is talent on that side of the ball, enough to show improvement. And with that offense, only a slight improvement will give the Raiders the title in a tough, competitive division. It won't be easy, as any of the four teams can win the division. All can score 30 or more any Sunday, which is why the AFC West will remind us of the old AFL days.

Sportsline - Oakland Raiders - Biggest offseason move: Adding Moss. He is the best receiver in football. Moss can do things for an offense that no other receiver can. This is going to be a huge year for him. Will go to the playoffs if ... the defense makes some improvement. There is talent there, but some of it is aging and some of it is inexperienced. Won't go to the playoffs if ... the defense gives up 30 points in too many games and the Raiders play too many shootouts. Rookie to watch: LB Kirk Morrison.

Overview: With Collins throwing to Moss and Porter and Jordan running behind a good line, the Raiders will have a dynamic offense, one that will be fun to watch. But will the defense improve? Look for the Raiders to play a lot of 35-31 games, which is just fine with us.

FTS - Mr. Prisco definitely has a thing for Randy Moss. I don't know how many times I've read his column and he always seems to put Randy Moss in it somewhere. No kidding, check it out. Wonder if Moss has something on Pete? Hmmmm. I'm still trying to figure out if Prisco knows anything about the Raiders other than Randy Moss now plays for them? After reading his review of the Raiders, you'd think the addition of Moss was all that was needed to bring home a division title. Pete, did you check out how many division titles the Vikings won in the last few years with Moss or how about the difference between Daunte Culpepper at QB versus Kerry Collins? Maybe he believes Moss can also play defense too?

I mean as bad as the Chiefs defense was last year….the Raiders were WORSE! Has he even looked at the Raiders roster? He doesn't even mention losing linebacker Napoleon Harris to the Vikings in the Moss trade. In my opinion he was their best defensive player last season. Prisco adds, "Will go to the playoffs if…the defense makes some improvement". Where do you see that improvement coming from Pete? Randy Moss? One more thing Pete, FB Rob Konrad retired in May. At least check some of this stuff out before reporting it okay?

Sportsline Denver Broncos - Biggest offseason move: Getting the four defensive lineman from the Cleveland Browns. Those four didn't do much for a bad Cleveland defense, but word is some of them have showed well this summer. One question, though -- where's the pass rush coming from? Will go to the playoffs if ... the defense can show improvement behind all the new faces. Won't go to the playoffs if ... the defense is getting gashed, forcing too much pressure on Jake Plummer. Rookie to watch: The Broncos drafted three corners with their first three picks, and Dominique Foxworth, the last of the three to be picked, has played the best in the preseason. He could be the team's nickel back.

Overview: Coach Mike Shanahan has not won a playoff game since John Elway retired. Is this the year? The Broncos will again run the ball well with Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell, and Plummer will make his share of plays in the passing game. But the defense has a lot of holes to plug. The Broncos will push for wild-card spot this year and maybe the division title.

FTS Pete believes the (Brown)cos, I mean the Broncos have improved enough to move ahead of the Chargers. I'm still trying to figure out how he believes that by adding the Browns entire defensive line that improves the Broncos? I believe losing DE Reggie Hayward (their best pass rusher a year ago) hurt more than gaining Cleveland's underachieving defensive line. How is this a gain? At least he didn't have Maurice Clarett still on the roster. Good job Pete!

Sportsline Kansas City Chiefs - Biggest offseason move: Adding Surtain. The Chiefs were so-so at best on the corner, but Surtain gives them a guy who has man coverage skills. He might not be the player he was three years ago, but he is still a significant upgrade over what the Chiefs played with last season. Will go to the playoffs if ... Gunther Cunningham gets the defense to play better. There is more talent, but how well will it come together? Won't go to the playoffs if ... they're giving up way too many points again. The offense will score a lot, but will it have to because of the defense? Rookie to watch: Johnson is a run-and-chase linebacker whose speed will show up in a big way. The one knock on him is that he runs around blocks.

Overview: The Chiefs will continue to put up loads of points. With Trent Green throwing and Priest Holmes running and a good offensive line in front of them, the offense will again be among the league's best. The key will be the defense. Did they do enough to improve a bad unit from a year ago? The one concern is they still do not have an explosive down rusher in their 4-3 package. That's not a good thing in the wild AFC West. They'll push for a wild-card berth, but no more.

FTS I believe somewhere in the past Pete didn't get treated right by the Chiefs. He hasn't had one good thing to say about the Chiefs in his last few columns. On his draft review he had some real sharp analysis[Best Pick-Hard to find one!, Questionable pick-2nd round pick on a punter(my personal favorite) & overall grade C- as he isn't a big fan of Derrick Johnson]. Prisco obviously researched that draft column real well and continues with his well researched analysis in this column. He contradicts himself by saying the additions of Surtain and DJ are an upgrade, but then says is it enough? Isn't that more than what the Raiders added to their defense Pete?

It seems that no matter how many former Pro Bowlers the Chiefs added on defense that it would never be enough for Pete. The Raiders add Randy Moss and all of a sudden their defense gets better, but the Chiefs only add Surtain, Bell, DJ, Knight, Hall and there are questions if it's enough. Pete's got it all figured out. One more thing Pete, I really liked this part: "Won't go to the playoffs if….they're giving up way too many points again". Wow! I wonder how long it took him to figure that one out? Maybe the Chiefs should have added Randy Moss so their defense would be better, right Pete?

Sportsline San Diego Chargers – Biggest offseason move: They return all 22 starters, so there wasn't a lot done in the offseason. The biggest move might be the drafting of Merriman. Will go to the playoffs if ... they weren't one-year wonders. There are still some doubts about this group. Won't go to the playoffs if ... Drew Brees has his bubble burst. That isn't likely, but let's wait and see. Rookie to watch: Merriman. He should help improve the outside pass rush, which could mean more single blocks for Steve Foley. Merriman fits in perfectly in the Chargers' 3-4 system.

Overview: This young team is coming off a special 12-win season. But in the past coach Marty Schottenheimer has had teams get to that level and never make a Super Bowl. Are the Chargers in that same mold? If Brees plays like he did last season and some young defensive players step up, the Chargers could win 10 games. If not, they might be back to seven-win team and Brees might be headed elsewhere as Philip Rivers takes over.

FTS Remember last year when the Chiefs signed all of their starters and basically said they were standing pat with the team? It seems Pete thinks that somehow the Chargers are going to pull a 2004 Chiefs move in 2005. I tend to believe him about that, but there is no way the Chargers finish in last place with the Raiders and Broncos still in the division. Maybe Pete believes that Marty has the same problem he had KC when one year the Chiefs would be great ('93, '95, '97) but flop in the playoffs and couldn't recover the next season ('94, '96, '98)? I happen to think the Chiefs and Chargers will be battling all year for the division. Maybe Pete thinks the Chargers should have acquired Randy Moss too?

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