NFL Offseason: Good News and Bad News For AFC West

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Apr 04, 2013

Pro football guru Russell Baxter looks at a different NFL division each week. You can also see his fact-filled reports from the AFC East, NFC East, AFC North, NFC North, AFC South and NFC South

By Russell S. Baxter
Cold, Hard Football Facts Horace Greeley of the Gridiron (@baxfootballguru)

The good news for the AFC West in 2012 was that the Denver Broncos finished with the AFC’s best record at 13-3, which was also tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the top mark in the NFL.

And that’s about it for the good news.

While the Broncos were busy winning a baker’s dozen during the regular season, the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs were busy combining for 13 victories.

So was there really and good news regarding this division in 2012, one that hasn’t sent a team to the Super Bowl since 2002, when the Raiders enjoyed their last winning season?

Sure there was.

You know our mantra by now. Be it recently or historically, there’s always some interesting numbers that we all find fascinating in terms of trends, one of the many aspects that makes the National Football League the game we all love.

Denver Broncos (13-3)

The Good News: New Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning put up some impressive numbers this past season in his first year in the Mile High City.

After not playing football in 2011, the former Colts’ signal-caller threw 37 touchdown passes, breaking the previous franchise record by 10 scores set originally by Hall of Famer John Elway (1997) and later tied by Jake Plummer (2004) ...

What a difference a year makes when it came to getting the football to a bevy of receivers. In 2011, wide receiver Eric Decker led team with 44 receptions. A season ago, Demaryius Thomas (94), Decker (85), Jacob Tamme (52) and Brandon Stokley (45) surpassed Decker’s total …

The Bad News: Talk about a bad case of déjà vu? In 2009, the San Diego Chargers got off to a 2-3 start, only to win their last 11 regular-season games to finish 13-3 en route to winning the AFC West.

But two weeks later, the Bolts were beaten at home by the New York Jets in the Divisional Playoffs. This past season, the Broncos also got off to a 2-3 start, also won their last 11 regular-season games to finish 13-3 en route to capturing the AFC West.

And like the ’09 Chargers, Denver then lost a playoff game at home via the 38-35 double overtime setback to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens…

Back to that loss to the Ravens, in which Denver allowed a season-high 38 points. During the team’s season-ending 11-game winning streak, John Fox’s club (which allowed the fewest points in the AFC in 2012) allowed no more than 24 points in any contest …


San Diego Chargers (7-9)

The Good News: It’s amazing the tie that remains between San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and New York Giants signal-caller Eli Manning.

The pair was drafted in the first round in 2004 (Manning by the Chargers and Rivers by the Giants) and their rights were traded for each other later that same day. And it’s worth noting that Rivers has started every game for the Chargers the last seven seasons (112), the second-longest active streak by a quarterback in the league behind (you guessed it) Eli Manning (135) …

Despite a losing record, the 7-9 Chargers were 4-2 vs. their AFC West rivals (0-2 to the Broncos) and 3-7 vs. the rest of the NFL in 2012. For what it’s worth, the last time the Bolts were below .500 within their own division was 2003 (1-5), which also marked San Diego’s last losing season (4-12) before 2012…

The Bad News: Dating back to 2002 and NFL realignment, the Chargers are an impressive 103-73, the seventh-best record in the NFL over that span.

But of the six teams ahead of them (Patriots, Colts, Steelers, Packers, Ravens and Eagles), all but Philadelphia has won at least one Super Bowl while the Eagles played in Super Bowl XXXIX. San Diego’s lone appearance in the Big Game remains a 49-26 loss to the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX…

How dramatically different has Rivers’ play been in recent season? Since 2011, the former Pro Bowler has thrown 53 touchdown passes and committed of the team’s 54 turnovers. From 2006-10, Rivers threw for an impressive 135 scores while committing only 76 turnovers (57 interceptions, 19 lost fumbles) in 80 games…


Oakland Raiders (4-12)

The Good News: There were some positives that came out of the Raiders’ latest losing season in 2012, one being one-time sixth-round draft choice (2009 from Iowa) and tight end Brandon Myers, who led the team in receptions (79) and receiving yards (806).

Myers’ 79 catches were the most by a member of the Silver and Black since 2002, when Jerry Rice, Charlie Garner and Tim Brown all exceeded that total …

It was also a bit of a bounce back season for quarterback Carson Palmer, who threw for 4,018 yards and 22 scores while committing 19 turnovers in 16 games with the Raiders this past season.

The previous year, Palmer played in 10 games (9 starts), Palmer threw for 2,753 and totaled more turnovers (17) than touchdown passes (13).

Of course, it’s also worth noting that both Myers (signed with Giants) and Palmer (traded to Cardinals) are no longer with the Raiders…

The Bad News: The franchise once known for its “Commitment to Excellence” is on one horrendous roll. Since finishing 11-5, winning the AFC West and reaching Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002, the Raiders are a combined 49-111 and have gone 10 straight years without a winning season, their best mark being 8-8 finishes in 2010 and 2011 …

Since finishing 8-8 in 2010 and a perfect 6-0 vs. their AFC West rivals, Oakland is a combined 5-7 vs. the Broncos, Chargers and Chiefs the last two seasons, including just 1-5 at home vs. their longtime divisional adversaries…


Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)

The Good News: What a bounce back season for running back Jamaal Charles in 2012. The previous season, the Pro Bowl runner was lost for the year in a Week 2 setback at Detroit.

In 2012, Charles finished fourth in the league in rushing with 1,509 yards, behind only the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (2,097), Washington Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris (1,613) and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch (1,590) this past season.

Charles finished with the second- (233 vs. Saints) and third-best (226 vs. Colts) single-game rushing performances in 2012…

The Bad News: Talk about headed in the wrong direction? The Chiefs won the AFC West in 2010, finished last in the division with a 7-9 mark in 2011 and last season plummeted to 2-14, tied for the worst record in the NFL.

It should also be noted that Kansas City committed a mere 14 turnovers in 2010, doubled that total in ’11 (28) and in 2012, coughed up the football a league-high 37 times (tied with the Eagles and Jets)…Kansas City scored a league-low 211 points in 2012, down from a paltry 212 points in 2011.

That means the Chiefs have scored a total of 423 points over the last two seasons, fewer than the Patriots (557), Broncos (481), Saints (461), Redskins (436), Packers (433) and Giants (429) managed this past season…



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