AFC West

Posted: 01/05/2012 by levcohen in Football
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Just a quick note is I was at the Duke-Temple game yesterday. The Owls were very gritty and tough, especially Juan Fernandez, who was hit in the face twice but stayed in the game for 36 minutes. Duke looks very talented, especially Rivers and Curry, and have Casey Kelly and the Plumblee brothers down low. However, they certainly did not look like a top 5 team vs. the Owls, who have beaten top 10 teams in 4 straight years.

After the game, Temple students charged onto the court. Some people think that in a regular season game, that is overreacting, but I disagree. Any time you beat a top 10 team (especially Duke), it is a big deal.

#4 Broncos, 8-8: This team is quite a story. Led by Kyle Orton, the team stunk. But then Tim Tebow took over. I don’t know if it was his passing, his charisma, or his running that led his team to so many wins, but it was something. With Orton, they were 1-4. With Tebow, they were 7-4. While they didn’t face great teams, and ended the season by losing three in a row, that sure is something. What is amazing is the number of  4th quarter comebacks Tebow has engineered. However, his passing numbers weren’t great at all. He completed just 47% of his passes and had a 73 passer rating, bad numbers. He also ran for 660 yards, which is a huge amount for a QB. Obviously, Tebow didn’t do it alone. Willis McGahee, who was supposed to be a backup at his advanced age, had a great bounce back year, running for 1200 yards. Knowshon Moreno, who was the starter before the year, got injured early and often, and ended with a disappointing year. Eric Decker was their best WR, but he put up mediocre numbers. However, he came up with some major catches during 4th quarter comebacks. Demaryius Thomas came out of nowhere in the last five games. Before then, he had 7 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. In the last 5 games alone, he had 25 catches for over 400 yards and 3 scores. The defense was great after Tebow became starting QB. Led by rookie of the year candidate Von Miller, and they made stops when they had to. Oh, and it helps to have future hall of famers Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey in the secondary. Matt Prater also played a big part, with the highlight being a 59 yard game-tieing boot. All in all, I am not a Tebow believer, and I don’t think the Broncos have much chance in the playoffs, but they may be facing the most vulnerable team in the playoffs, a Steeler team that finds itself without its top rusher or tackler, and with a hobbled QB.

San Diego, 8-8: The Chargers went 4-1 to start the year, and 4-1 to end it, but in between was a disaster. After the 4-1 start, the team thought it had finally gotten rid of its label as a slow starter, but then disaster struck. Phillip Rivers had an even 10/10 TD to INT ratio during the six game losing streak. Not what you want to see from what is supposed to be a stud. In his defense, he did end up throwing for over 4600 yards, 6th in the league, and 27 TD’s, which was 8th most. What is so maddening about this team is that it still almost came back to make the playoffs, and if it had, the team had the talent to win a game or two. Surrounding Rivers was an 1100 yard rusher (Ryan Mathews), and a 1100 yard receiver, (Vincent Jackson). They also have stud TE Antonio Gates, who scored 7 TD’s, which is not up to his usual standards. The defense is often the problem for the Chargers, and this year they allowed the 11th most points. However, many people thought that would be good enough to make the playoffs. It wasn’t, and Chargers fans will have to wait another year.

Oakland Raiders, 8-8: The Raiders were so close to making the playoffs. In the end, it was defense and injuries that kept them out. In their first year without Probowl CB Nnmadi Asomugha, the defense was 4th worst in the league. On the other side of the ball, the Raiders were good. Stud RB Darren McFadden played in only six games before getting injured, but ran for over 600 yards in those games. The Raiders were 4-2 with him. Michael Bush, the backup RB, was very serviceable. He rushed for 977 yards, and 3.8 yards a carry, which is not that far below average. QB Jason Campbell also played in only 5 games and part of the 6th, before getting hurt. He had 1170 yards in those 5 and a half games. It’s safe to say that it took Carson Palmer, the QB that the Raiders traded for, two games to get used to Oakland. They lost both games. He finished the year 4-4, with decent stats. If Campbell and McFadden had been healthy the whole year, I think they would have made the playoffs. They need McFadden healthy next year, and let’s see what Carson Palmer can do with half a season in Oakland under his belt.

Kansas City Chiefs, 7-9: The fact that the Chiefs finished 7-9 is something. They lost their star running back and star safety, Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry, in the first game of the season. Later, they lost QB Matt Cassel. This was a season of hurt for Kansas City, and they need to focus on next year. They can do well with Charles and Berry healthy. Dwayne Bowe is a very good WR, and Steve Breaston works decently as a WR2. At the linebacker position, they have Derrick Johnson, who picked up 131 tackles. I think they and the Chargers will compete to win the AFC West next year.

COTTON BOWL PREDICTION:
Arkansas-34  Kansas State-32

FANTASY PLAYER OF THE DAY (January 3rd):

Dwight Howard, ORL C:

It was between Dwight and LeBron. Maybe I just didn’t want to pick James, but Howard was certainly had a very good fantasy game. He had a 20-20, scoring 28 points with 20 rebounds. He also shot 11-13 from the field and had 3 blocks. While he shot only 6-14 from the line, he will basically lock up 4 categories on his own with those stats.

BTW.. It is very interesting to see that Scott Boras still has 3 major FA’s unemployed. Ryan Madson, Prince Fielder, and Edwin Jackson. My predictions are Madson back to the Phillies (1 year deal, gutsy, I know) because there will be much more closer interest next year

Fielder to the Nats. He is still in his 20’s and the Nats can afford him.

Edwin Jackson to the Yankees, who are willing to overpay for an SP.

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