Here we are. The final rankings of each AFC West team based on the individual position rankings. It has been a close race throughout, so it is not surprising it is still close. The rankings appear to mimic the way the AFC West has looked the past couple seasons. Last season it was a four horse race right up until week 16 and it wasn't settled until week 17.
If these rankings hold true, it will be another close one for the AFC West crown this season. Although, it is always those question marks which end up deciding who gets in and who doesn't. Prior to last season we had no way of knowing if Tebow would start let alone how he would perform. And in the end he led the Broncos into the playoffs.
This season will be no different. With Peyton Manning entering the division, the Raiders switching to a whole new scheme on both sides of the ball, the Chiefs making noise in the free agent market, and the Chargers fighting to keep their window open, things will get very interesting.
Let me remind everyone, I had no idea ahead of time how the final scores would come out until I was finished with the rankings and tallied them up. Keep in mind, the lower the score the better. These are the results of those scores and the final rankings:
Defense: 16, Rank: 3
Offense: 17, Rank: 2
Special Teams: 1
I was extremely surprised by this. I really was. Those who come here who are fans of the other AFC West teams are going to assume I was being a "homer" or something with this result. In reality, I had to double check my numbers to be sure I hadn't made some kind of mistake. What it seems to have come down to is the head coaches. It was the one area I received some criticism because I had Dennis Allen ranked ahead of two experienced coaches in Romeo Crennel and Norv Turner. I understand that argument and it's valid. Dennis Allen has not proven anything yet. My logic for ranking him second was that Crennel and Turner have had their chances and failed. Crennel to a lesser degree because he was only given one shot with the Browns who have had very little talent to speak of in recent years. If I were to put Crennel ahead of Allen on the list, the Chiefs would top the overall rankings. If I put Allen at the bottom of the coach rankings, the Raiders would drop to third in the overall rankings behind the Chiefs and Chargers. It goes to show you just how much of the balance hinges on the coaching. And I have to stand by my coaching rank, so therefore the Raiders earn the top ranking in the AFC West. The Raiders did it with the top ranked special teams (kicker, punter, returners), safeties, and defensive line. After you finish reading this article, please, take a look at all my rankings and tell me if you agree with where I ranked each group. The links to all positions is at the bottom of the page.
Defense: 13, Rank: 1
Offense: 18, Rank: 3
Special teams: 3
The Chiefs come in second in large part due to finishing with the best defensive ranking. On offense, they had the top ranked wide receivers, rushing attack, and offensive tackles but with the lowest ranked quarterback in the division, they were ranked third on offense. Their special teams and head coach also ranked third in the division. It is their defense that has them fighting for the top of the division and it is expected to be very good. Their head coach Romeo Crennel is also their defensive coordinator. And while I think having both roles will spread him too thin to perform his head coaching duties adequately, the defense should do well with him in charge.
Defense: 16, Rank: 4
Offense: 16, Rank: 1
Special Teams: 2
Just as we have come to know the Chargers, they are the best in the division on offense but the worst on the defensive side of the ball. As a team, the Chargers are watching their window close. They haven't made the playoffs the last two seasons and while they continue to see players retire, and leave as free agents, they haven't been able to passably replace most of them. On offense, there is always hope with Philip Rivers under center. Even an aging Antonio Gates is the best in the division at tight end. Their replacements for the departed Vincent Jackson should be serviceable. Oh, but that defense. The defense last season had the offense in desperation mode most of the game and it resulted in a career high in interceptions for Rivers. It looks to be much of the same this season. The team also has the little issue of their head coach being Norv Turner. Like Crennel, that isn't an issue for the area in which they have expertise. Crennel is a defensive guy and Turner is an offensive guy. But it doesn't bode well for the team as a whole.
Defense: 15, Rank: 2
Offense: 21, Rank: 4
Special Teams: 4
This ranking is interesting because conventional wisdom says any team on which Peyton Manning plays is going to have double digit wins as certain and death and taxes. He is a coach on the field and makes all of his teammates look better than they are. The clinching evidence being how hapless the Colts were when he was out all last season. And who knows, he may continue to prove conventional wisdom correct. My instinct certainly tells me he will. He may just make the Broncos AFC West worst offensive line and running backs look better than they are. He will most certainly make his receivers look better, right? So, for those people who would not like to believe the Broncos could actually be ranked worst in the AFC West, go ahead and disregard this. But keep in mind, the Broncos ended up here even while I gave greater emphasis on the quarterback position and ranked Manning as the best. I also had John Fox as the top ranked coach and the Broncos were still easily the lowest ranked team in the division.