Oakland Raiders defenders huddle up versus the Buffalo Bills
All last week I have been ranking each position group for each AFC West team. I have now tallied up the scores to give an overall rank of the division's defenses. It was a close race with not a lot separating the best from the worst.Every team had at least one position group that was best in the division.
Keep in mind, the lower score is better. Here are the results:
The only team in the division which didn't have a single position group ranked last. Their outside linebackers of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston were tops in the division. All other positions second or third. And with players like safety Eric Berry, cornerback Brandon Flowers, and linebacker Derrick Johnson, the Chiefs could make some noise on defense this season.
For the Broncos, it is feast of famine. They had two positions, defensive end and cornerback, in which they were best in the West thanks the likes of perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey along with pass rush specialist Elvis Dumervil. But they also had two positions, defensive tackle, and safety, which were dead last among their division rivals. Their linebackers were middle of the pack with their saving grace being Von Miller.
The Raiders also suffered from the feast or famine issue. They had two positions ranked atop the division-- defensive tackle and safety. However, they had three positions in the cellar-Inside and outside linebacker and cornerback. As for outside linebacker and cornerback, the low ranking was primarily due to uncertainty. We just don't know what to expect from this group while the rest of the division has well established players at those positions.
You may notice the Raiders and Chargers both got a 16. But I give the Raiders the edge for a few reasons. The Chargers had just one position ranked best in the division. That position was inside linebacker which is an overall weak position in the AFC West. The Chargers were the winner by default with the aged Takeo Spikes and second year linebacker Donald Butler. Defensive tackle was the only other position not ranked among the bottom two in the division with Cam Thomas and Antonio Garay teaming up to hold down the nose tackle position. Eric Weddle is also a force at free safety but the overall stock drops with Atari Bigby at strong safety.