Well kids, it was fun on the West Coast while it lasted. There were teams going from worst to first and first to worst. There were passing records broken, and owners passing on into the record books. There were Super Bowls, and Super Bowl losses. And there were cheeseburgers. Lots and lots of cheeseburgers.
But all good things must come to an end. After this season, what we used to know of the AFC West will be a distant memory. Or the NFL could just be yanking our chains to wind us up for another year. How could next year’s season of Hard Knocks not come out of the AFC West?
We continue our asinine analysis of NFL teams that you hate to love and love to hate to prepare you for the 2015 season. Our next targets: the teams of the AFC West.
Record: 12-4. It probably could have been 13-3 or 14-2 if not for Peyton Manning’s arm almost falling off by the end of the season. And his leg. And his back. And his neck.
But the final nail in the coffin was Andrew Luck and the Colts beating Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs. If anything was left of Peyton Manning after that game, it was going to have to be rolled to Foxborough in a wheelchair.
The Good: Even a broken Peyton Manning will get you to the playoffs by sheer will. Having a team made up of Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Owen Daniels and C.J. Anderson doesn’t hurt, either.
So the answer is, “Yes.” There will be another Papa John’s pizza offer when January rolls around.
The Bad: John Fox, who at least understood that his offensive coordinator was Peyton Manning and that he should just focus on defense, has been replaced by quarterback killer Gary Kubiak.
“But he’s going to run the zone block, guys!”
You know what happens when you roll out the zone block? You hand the ball off on a delay, throw a screen pass to your running back, or become so claustrophobic with the bodies at your feet that you become Matt Schaub-like and throw a million interceptions. Okay, it’s Peyton Manning, so maybe just 100,000 interceptions.
The Ugly: This is the year, people. At the end of the Pro Bowl next year, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are going to hold a post-game press conference on the field announcing their retirement. Then they will hold hands as they walk off into the future. I’m sure there will be doves flying while “A Promise” by When in Rome is playing and everything.
It’s the end of an era, people. Enjoy the season while it lasts.
Kansas City Chiefs
Record: 9-7. Andy Reid sure pulled the wool over the eyes of the rest of the AFC West. For one season, anyway. Now Andy Reid can continue his quest for a Kansas City BBQ joint he doesn’t like while mailing in his coaching strategy for the next four seasons. Welcome to Camp Reid, Chiefs fans.
The Good: Alex Smith finally has the plethora of short-yardage pass-catchers that he’s always wanted. With Jeremy Maclin coming over from Philadelphia, Travis Kelce doing his best Tony Gonzalez impersonation, and Jamaal Charles catching out of the backfield, Alex Smith has no reason to actually throw the ball forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if half the Chiefs’ offensive plays are laterals.
Third and 19? Obvious screen pass to the running back. I know it. The AFC West knows it. The entire world knows it.
The Bad: Jamaal Charles doesn’t even respect his own team, saying, “Sometimes I feel like I’m the LeBron of football, because I can do so much.”
Apparently Jamaal forgets that LeBron at least drags his teams to championships when it’s just him.
The Ugly: If you’re a Chiefs fan, you’re probably happy that your quarterback at least passes the name-recognition test. But if Alex Smith gets hurt, it will be the Brodie Croyle and Tyler Palko days all over again. Riots will break out, mothers crying in the street, AND NO CHEESEBURGERS FOR ANYONE!
Record: 3-13. Were the Oakland Raiders worse than they were the previous year? Maybe in terms of wins and losses, but the team was generally the same: bad and boring. It’s as if the Raiders are searching for an identity after the passing of Al Davis.
In honor of that, I believe the Oakland Raiders should use “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake as their team run-out music.
Maybe Mark Davis will hire the lead singer, David Coverdale, to play the song live when the team returns to Los Angeles. He’s already got the color scheme going on.
The Good: There’s a lot of potential here. Second-year quarterback Derek Carr can throw bombs. Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper can catch bombs… in college, anyway. Latavius Murray can run bombs when the Raiders are down by 50 points in the 3rd quarter and are expected to throw the ball.
And then there’s Mr. silver and black himself, Jack Del Rio. We’re back to the leather jackets and sunglasses of the Jacksonville era, people!
The Bad: Jack Del Rio received his own jersey after signing as the head coach of the Raiders. I’m not sure if this was just as a token of appreciation, or Mark Davis expects Del Rio to take on outside linebacker duties. That defense could use the help.
The Ugly: Can you imagine what would happen if the Raiders don’t leave Oakland next season? It would be like standing at the alter with cold feet and professing your love to your bride-to-be’s maid of honor, only to find out that she doesn’t like you. So you’re just standing there like an idiot, the bride is crying, her father is storming up to you, and you turn back to the priest and say, “Please continue.”
I’m not saying I ever did that. I’m just saying this Raiders situation is like that.
San Diego Chargers
Record: 9-7. Philip Rivers does NOT approve. It’s Philip Rivers’ birthright to awkwardly lose in the playoffs. How dare the AFC North take that away by sending two teams in to lose awkwardly in the playoffs?!
The Good: You’ve got Philip Rivers locked up in a contract until he retires. The Chargers could stay put, move to Los Angeles, or get shipped out to Uzbekistan as the NFL reaches further around the globe, and you will still be able to celebrate Philip Rivers Photoshop Phriday every week. You just might not be a Chargers fan. You’ll become a fan of the San Diego Cosplayers.
The Bad: Philip Rivers won’t be able to throw to Antonio Gates for four games as the tight end will be serving a suspension for popping for performance-enhancing substances. I expect that those substances was some sort of miracle water that keeps you young. It’s the only way I can explain away how dominant Antonio Gates still is.
Or maybe he was once bitten by a cosplay vampire who really was a vampire.
The Ugly: The Chargers join the Raiders in the planned escape to L.A. (dibs on the parody for the John Carpenter film starring Kurt Russell.) My biggest question is, “Why?” San Diego is where you move to when you’ve made your money in Hollywood and are done with the grind. You don’t take your money and leave.
The NFL plans to keep the Raiders and Chargers in separate conferences if they both end up moving into the same building, but what if the Rams come, too? What if every single NFL team ends up at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and just hold massive brawls to crown the Super Bowl champ?
And how soon could we make such an event happen?