Division Winner: Denver Broncos
I am convinced that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning injured himself to the point that he could not lead the Denver Broncos, to a victory over the Indianapolis Colts in last year’s divisional round of the playoffs. At the beginning of the season, the Broncos face teams such as the Ravens, Chiefs, Lions, and Vikings. All four of those ball clubs have playoff aspirations going into 2015.
Their schedule will not get any better in the latter parts of the season. For the Broncos to even get a chance of grabbing the number 1 seed in the AFC, they must defeat teams such as the Packers, Colts, Patriots, and Steelers. Peyton Manning must prove the naysayers wrong by showing that he can indeed play at a high level in the cold months of December and January. My 2015 prediction for the Denver Broncos is that they will win the AFC West and contend for a Super Bowl title once again.
The Kansas City Chiefs front office finally went out and got quarterback Alex Smith, a reliable number 1 receiver in Jeremy Maclin. The Chiefs wide receivers did not score a single touchdown in 2014. Their offense must reverse that trend in 2015. On the defensive side of the ball, they resigned outside linebacker Justin Houston to a six-year, $101 million dollar deal that includes $52.5 million guaranteed.
The presence of Houston on the Chiefs defense will provide the vaunted pass rush that is needed to frustrate quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and possibly Tom Brady. I predict that the Kansas City Chiefs will contend for a wildcard spot in the playoffs, however; Andy Reid must not neglect running back Jamaal Charles, his role in this offense.
The San Diego Chargers woke up from their annual nap in 2014, but it was too late. The Chargers lost to their division rival the Kansas City Chiefs in the last game of the season. A win against the Chiefs would have catapulted the Chargers into the wildcard round of the playoffs.
To improve their running game during the cold months of November and December, the Chargers parted ways with running back Ryan Matthews and decided to draft Melvin Gordon out of the University of Wisconsin. Gordon will make a significant impact on the Chargers offense in 2015. He will be expected to take the heavy load off of quarterback Philip Rivers. I predict that the Chargers will once again contend for a wildcard spot in the playoffs, along with their division rival the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Oakland Raiders took another step toward returning to dominance in the AFC when they drafted wide receiver Amari Cooper in the 2015 NFL Draft. Cooper could become the best wide receiver that the Raiders have drafted in the last 15 years. My reason for saying that is because, in previous seasons, the Raiders have done a terrible job in selecting wide receivers.
They search for wide receivers in the higher rounds of the draft, however; they fail to address the quarterback position. The Raiders now have Derek Carr as their quarterback of the future. Derek Carr must continue his development to becoming a premier quarterback in the National Football League. My 2015 season prediction for the Raiders is that they will not make the playoffs, but they will indeed play the role of spoiler for a lot of teams trying to get in. They are still another year away from being a superb franchise once again.
Photo Credits By sportswire.usatoday.com