I have to give it to the ESPN NFL division bloggers. They have done their best to come up with things worth talking about during this disgusting lockout. Their latest effort may be my favorite. They predict who will be the divisions' dominant team in the year 2014-2016. Check it out. It comes complete with a poll.
The Raiders lead the poll, but blogger Bill Williamson picked the Chiefs. Obviously the voters are way smarter than Williamson. Actually, I can't bust his chops too much. It is easy to see why he picked the Chiefs. The Raiders and the Chiefs are remarkably similar. They are both young teams that surprised people last year, and they had two of the most productive 2010 draft classes.
That choice could go either way. I don't think it will come as any surprise that I think it is going to be the Raiders. Jump over for the rest of the story....
Let's look at what Williamson had this to say about the Raiders:
Oakland snapped a seven-year streak of losing at least 11 games by going .500 last season and has a good core of young players.
Among other things, he had this to say about the Chiefs:
The Chiefs remind me of the Green Bay Packers. The young Packers won the Super Bowl last season probably ahead of their time. The same thing goes for the Chiefs’ division crown.
Sure the Chiefs excelled ahead of their time, but so did the Raiders. And it is easy to argue that the Raiders were the better team last year. The Chiefs won the division, but the Raiders played a harder schedule, and most importantly they swept the Chiefs.
I think the biggest advantage the Chiefs have going for them when projecting the future is that they have far less uncertainty in free agency right now.
And the thing both teams have going against them has to do with my biggest problem with Williamson's assessment:
As long as quarterback Matt Cassel, 29, continues to make positive strides, there aren’t a lot of question marks in Kansas City. If Cassel fails, the Chiefs have Ricky Stanzi, a fifth-round pick this year, waiting in the wings.
I don't see the positive strides Williamson said Cassel needs to continue. I think Cassel was as good as he is going to get last year. Sure they may get him some better weapons at receiver, but Cassel had it pretty good working with their running game last year. And falling back on a fifth-round QB is not a solid foundation for future success.
The Raiders QB situation is also their biggest question mark moving forward. They don't have a Ricky Stanzi to fall back on, but that is probably a good thing. That way the organization isn't fooled into thinking a weak armed middling college QB is the answer. Both teams are kind of hoping that the incumbents turn things around and make strides that QBs in their late 20's really just don't make.
I'd post a poll here, but I have a pretty good idea how you all would vote.