AFC West Rewind: No Longer 2nd Best

Photo Credit: Jim Brown USA Today

On Sunday, the AFC West played three terrific games. So much so, it changed the balance of power in the suddenly entertaining division. So who rose and who fell after Week #5?

1. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) - I'm pushing them ahead of the Broncos for this simple reason; they deserve to be atop the division. After ten years of mostly suffering football in these parts, the Chiefs are a relevant player in the NFL again.

The Chiefs have their deficiencies on offense but they manage the clock well and are without a doubt, the calmest fourth quarter offense in the NFL. Alex Smith isn't Peyton Manning, but his starting record the last three years indicates he's on par with the Broncos future hall of famer.

And for a franchise that has made losing common place, I doubt too many fans were upset Kansas City had to crawl back for their 26-17 victory against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Andy Reid has certainly cornered the market on NFL coach of the year honors. Smith likely will be the comeback player of the year and Justin Houston might end up as defensive player of the year.

But the primary reason I flipped flop these two teams is this bare fact; KC's defense is vastly superior to the Broncos. The Chiefs gave up 16 points to the Cowboys and seven to the Giants, the Broncos Swiss cheese defense gave up 48 points against Dallas and 23 points to New York. Granted both games were on the road so one could argue that the disparity may have been different had that not been the case.

Even when, Von Miller, returns from his suspension the Broncos face three tough road contests that are anything but locks. They have to travel to Indianapolis, New England and Kansas City.

Next Up: vs. Raiders

2. Denver Broncos (5-0) - I will admit the Broncos 51-48 thriller at Dallas was the NFL's best game of the week. But anyone who is ready to anoint the Broncos with the Super Bowl title in February better put some of that dough back in their pockets.

With that defense, Denver is going to struggle to get out of the playoff rounds. They probably will march to a 15-1 regular season record but their defense can't carry them should the inconceivable happen, Manning struggles.

It's been highly noted that great offensive teams rarely win Super Bowls. In fact, without a stellar defense, it's nearly impossible to think the 2013 version of the greatest show on grass, can punch the Super Bowl ticket.

For weeks now I've stated that Denver is the best team in the NFL. But they don't possess the best defense. That honor, at least within the division, rests in Kansas City.

I know he won't admit but Manning has to realize at some point his defense is going to have to step up. Granted until Sunday, they hadn't faced a passer as capable of a career day as, Tony Romo, displayed in the Broncos win, but they nearly lost a game they scored 51 points.

They have a lay-up this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But make no mistake about it, this Broncos team has as far to go on defense as the Chiefs do on offense. And whoever solves that puzzle first, will not only win the division, but could garner home field advantage in their Super Bowl quests.

Next Up: vs. Jaguars

3. Oakland Raiders (2-3) - Say what you want about the Raiders brief flirtation with Quarterback, Josh Freeman, but Terrell Pryor is pretty good too. Granted he's not a thrower but the way he ripped apart the Chargers horrific defense Sunday night.

But what's so mind-boggling about the Raiders suddenly efficient offense is the fact they're doing it without, Darren McFadden. He continues to get hurt and right now the Raiders offense isn't missing him at all.

The big question mark in Oakland has always been their defense. For years, they've been solid but not many people felt they had the players to become a force again. Now they're still short of that mark but this is a team that could finish 8-8 at seasons end.

If that happens, the Raiders will remove themselves as AFC West doormat and could one day fight for division titles.

Next Up: @ Chiefs

4. San Diego Chargers (2-3) - I'm not sure I understand all the renewed hype surrounding Quarterback, Phillip Rivers. Sure he's talented but he's nowhere the signal caller and playmaker he was during the Norv Turner days.

Sure his stats are gaudy but they're not equating to wins. So many people continue to give this guy credit but if he's ever going to play meaningful football again, he better find a new uniform next season.

His offensive talents are being wasted in San Diego. They don't have the offensive line or the defense to compete for any other position than the bottom poll in the division. Because sooner or later he's going to implode and that won't be a pretty sight to see for Chargers fans.

Next up vs. Colts


WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Do you agree this week Chiefs should be ranked #1 in the AFC West?


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