It's good sometimes to get the point of view of the rival bloggers inside the Raiders' division. So, that is what we've done here. Three questions to get an idea of how those who cover each of the AFC West teams think of the state of the division this season.
Which team in the AFC West scares you the most?
Mile High Report: The San Diego Chargers. That's because I have immense respect for Mike McCoy and his ability to bend his scheme to the strength of his players. He did it with Tim Tebow, and he did it with Peyton Manning, and I think a lot of people are sleeping on the potential of a Philip Rivers pairing with McCoy. Let's not forget that the Chargers took a 24-0 lead into halftime against the Broncos last year. Epic comeback/collapse notwithstanding, hey are capable of putting a hurt on the Broncos. Furthermore, Philip Rivers is the second best quarterback in the division - almost by default these days, that makes the Chargers the second best team. However, the Chargers lack depth and are injury-riddled, so I see them finishing third in the division. Next year, 2014, could be a very interesting season with the resurging Chiefs and Chargers. If Philip Rivers stays in San Diego.
Arrowhead Pride: The Broncos. Easy answer. The Chargers are flawed and the Raiders are the 32nd team in SB Nation's NFL power rankings. The conversation around the AFC West begins and ends with the Broncos. Despite some of the offseason issues, Denver is still the best team in the AFC West and it's not close.
Bolts From The Blue: Obviously, the Denver Broncos. They're the favorite to win the division going away and they're one of the popular Super Bowl picks this year. I think their defense will take a step back without Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller (for six games), but they're the only team in the division that is near "complete".
Silver and Black Pride: The Broncos. Peyton Manning alone makes them a near lock for the playoffs. They have improved the pieces around Manning this off-season with the likes of WR Wes Welker, and OG Louis Vasquez. Just not sure how any of the AFC West teams are going to be able to stop them from simply marching right through them this year.
What will be the biggest surprise in the division this year?
Mile High Report: The division race not being a blowout. The Chiefs and Chargers making things interesting in the division race through the first half of the season. I see the Broncos struggling a little bit early, especially on the road, with Von Miller suspended. Teams are gunning for the Broncos this year. I think we'll see three teams all around 5-3 midway through the season before the Broncos pull away.
Arrowhead Pride: Philip Rivers. There are plenty of problems in San Diego, enough to have many folks picking them third in the AFC West. But Rivers is good enough that I've at least wondered what would happen if he puts up a monster year. Again, it would be a surprise given the Chargers receiver situation. But Rivers' best years weren't that long ago.
Bolts From The Blue: Terrelle Pryor and the Oakland Raiders. I don't know if Olson is the right Offensive Coordinator to guide him, but I think people are ignoring Pryor's insane potential. If he can get a little more accurate with his throws, and could get worked into a read-option type offense (with Darren McFadden!), he could be the talk of the league.
Silver and Black Pride: I guess it depends on what people consider to be a surprise. Everyone seems to think the Chiefs will rebound from their two loss season and make a playoff push. I would say the surprise could come from San Diego. They will be surprisingly awful. They have no wide receivers to speak of and their offensive line is just plain terrible. Antonio Gates is on the downside of his career as evidenced by his numbers declining each of the past three seasons culminating in his worst season since his rookie year. And with the issues at tackle, he may have to stay at home to block more often. Hard to win many games with no pass protection, no running lanes, and no one to catch the ball.
Predict the order of finish in the AFC West?
Mile High Report: 1. Broncos 2. Chiefs 3. Chargers 4. Raiders
Arrowhead Pride: 1. Broncos 2. Chiefs 3. Chargers 4. Raiders
Bolts From The Blue: 1. Broncos 2. Chiefs 3. Raiders 4. Chargers
Silver and Black Pride: 1. Broncos 2. Chiefs 3. Chargers 4. Raiders