After a couple weeks of comparing the Raiders’ at each position to their division rivals, we finally reach the culmination of those efforts. From those rankings I hoped to put together an overall ranking of the talent on each team. Here are those results.
Best offense: Oakland Raiders
Though none of the Raiders skill position players were named the best in the division, the combination of Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Clive Walford figured up to be tied with the Chargers for the best combination in the AFC West.
What really lifts the Raiders head and shoulders above their division counterparts is their offensive line. They are easily the best starting five at every single position, which is saying a lot. Especially when you consider that their offensive weapons are on par with their division opponents. You take that talent and give them a dominant offensive line to allow the quarterback time to find his receivers and the running backs blockers to run behind, and you have a recipe for success.
Runner up: San Diego Chargers
Where the Chargers get their highest mark was at quarterback. Philip Rivers is still the best quarterback in the division, who even on a 4-12 team last season, the Chargers offense was still top ten in the league. The addition of Travis Benjamin should help as well. Oh, that running game was bad, though. It should benefit from the addition of Matt Slauson at center.
Second runner up: Kansas City Chiefs
While Alex Smith is nothing to scream about, he is surrounded by the best running back (Jamaal Charles) and best tight end (Travis Kelce) and a pretty talented receiver in Jeremy Maclin. Their efforts may just be thwarted, however, by the worst offensive line in the division.
Dead last: Denver Broncos
First and foremost among reasons the Broncos land in the cellar on offense is their pathetic quarterback situation, led by Mark Sanchez. He has the division’s best receiving corps at his disposal, but it isn’t enough to give this offense a whole lot of firepower.
Best defense: Denver Broncos
After seeing the Broncos with the division’s worst offense, we see the other end of the spectrum on defense. They are tied with the Chiefs with the best defensive front seven and have sit alone at the top with the best secondary. This shouldn’t be of great surprise considering it was this defense that led them to a Super Bowl victory after last season. Even the losses of Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan didn’t knock them out of the top spot. Though it certainly narrowed the gap.
Runner up: Kansas City Chiefs
Again, they were tied with the Broncos for the best front seven. They were also just behind the Broncos for the second best secondary.
Second runner up: Oakland Raiders
There is a lot of hope with this Raiders defense, mainly with the new additions of Bruce Irvin, Sean Smith, and Reggie Nelson. And of course Khalil Mack, who is always cause for hope. But hope always springs eternal this time of year. And right now, the Broncos and Chiefs are just too loaded on defense for the Raiders to jump ahead of them.
Dead last: San Diego Chargers
It’s tough to find an area on this defense that isn’t flat out terrible. They have the worst front seven and worst secondary. The only decent group are the cornerbacks, led by Jason Verrett. After that, it’s a veritable talent wasteland.
Most talented overall:
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Sure, they didn’t have the top offense or the top defense. But their combined total was the best in the division. They are the best in the division at running back, tight end, defensive tackle, inside linebacker, safety, special teams, and head coach. They are built to step up as the favorite to win the division.
2. Oakland Raiders
While the Raiders had by far the best ranking on offense, they fall to third on defense, special teams, and head coach. Though in some of those, it’s a really close call. They were the top ranked at offensive tackle, guard, and center. They are capable of making a serious run at the division and if a few balls bounce their way, who knows.
3. Denver Broncos
The Broncos and Raiders are in the same situation on opposite sides of the ball. Except the Broncos are in much worse shape on offense than the Raiders are on defense. In most cases, the Raiders are only ranked low because of how much defensive talent there is in the division. The Broncos offense is just plain bad.
4. San Diego Chargers
Get ready for what appears to be another season of some really bad Bolts football. Their offense is above average and their defense just can’t compete in this division. They ranked last at running back, offensive tackle, defensive tackle, defensive end, outside linebacker, safety, special teams, and head coach. Brace yourself, Chargers fans, it looks like you could be in for a long season against some strong division opponents.