AFC West: Everyone chasing San Diego

August 28, 2007 8:39 AM
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Denver Broncos

The Broncos have seen RB Travis Henry hurt, QB Jay Cutler shaky and HC Mike Shanahan anxious.

The gap between Denver and San Diego appears to be widening if exhibition season is a barometer. The Broncos haven’t showed much either offensively or defensively and may be treading water to a .500 year that definitely would not sit well in the Mile High City.

Last year, you could say the NFC cost Denver a playoff bid. The Broncos were 1-3 and had a turnover ratio of -9. The TO was +9 against everyone else.

Broncos vitals:

Last year: 9-7 SU, 5-11 ATS

O/U: 8-8

Turnover ratio: 0

2007 exhibition (1-2, 1-2 ATS)

DEN (-6½) 16-17 v Cleveland (37)

DEN (+4½) 20-31 at Dallas (35)

DEN (+3) 17-13 at SF (35)

30, ARIZONA

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have devoted the four-game exhibition slate to determining whether Brodie Croyle or Damon Huard would step up and take a firm grip as the No. 1 quarterback.

Neither have.

Coach Herman Edwards, ever the positive thinker, has been patient despite some anemic results. At least top RB Larry Johnson finally came to terms with the Chiefs, which should take a lot of the heat off both QBs. Johnson can’t do it alone, meaning that defenses will key on him and force Croyle or Huard to make plays.

Defensively, the Chiefs could be a train wreck against the pass. That unit played pretty well in preseason until last week’s 23-point loss to New Orleans, a game that Drew Brees completed 17-of-19 passes.

Chiefs vitals:

Last year: 9-8 SU, 8-9 ATS

O/U: 9-7 under

Turnover ratio: +4

2007 exhibition (0-3, 0-3 ATS)

KC (-3) 12-16 at Cleveland (34)

KC (-3½) 10-11 vs Miami (34)

KC (-2) 7-30 v N.Orlns (37½)

30, at St. Louis

Oakland Raiders

This was supposed to be JaMarcus Russell’s ballclub, but the Raiders have turned into Daunte Culpepper’s comeback story.

Culpepper has had a nice preseason and earned the starting nod against St. Louis, which he turned into a 20-10 victory. Meanwhile Russell has been a holdout, though the dollar gap between himself and management is narrowing. Still, he’s so far behind that it might be midseason before we even notice him.

It wouldn’t take much tweaking for Oakland to become this season’s New Orleans Saints. The defense was solid last year, but the Raiders were an offensive disaster that feature a horrid -23 TO ratio.

Raiders vitals:

Last year: 2-14 SU, 6-10 ATS

O/U: 12-3 under

Turnover ratio: -23

2007 exhibition (2-1, 2-1 ATS)

OAK (-1) 20-10 v St. Louis (37½)

OAK (+3½) 21-26 at SF (36½)

OAK (-1½) 27-23 v Arizona (34)

30, at Seattle

San Diego Chargers

"Marty Ball" is over and new coach Norv Turner inherits a Chargers team that many felt should have been in the Super Bowl last year.

San Diego has been so solid in preseason that there has been no need to expose league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson to any carries. LT will be good to go in the opener and there’s plenty of talent and depth to fully expect another division title.

San Diego had a solid +12 turnover ratio last year

Chargers vitals:

Last year: 14-3 SU, 9-8 ATS

O/U: 10-7 over

Turnover ratio: +12

2007 exhibition (2-1, 1-2 ATS)

SD (-3) 33-31 at Arizona (40½)

SD (-2½) 30-13 at St.L (38)

SD (-3½) 16-24 v Seattle (36½)

30, SAN FRANCISCO