Oct 20, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) shakes hands with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) before the game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Week one of the NFL is here and a new season lies ahead! The beauty of week one in the NFL is that 32 teams start with a clean slate and are all hopeful they will be the team hoisting the Lombardi Trophy come February! Before that point however, sixteen regular season games must be played to sort out the contenders and the pretenders. A goal of every NFL team is to win their division. While the Denver Broncos have won the AFC West the last three seasons, there is no guarantee they will do this for the fourth consecutive year. While some say the AFC West is not the strongest division in football, every team will present challenges and let’s not forget, three out of the four teams in the division made the playoffs last year. Please continue reading for my thoughts on each AFC West team and their opening game of the 2014 season.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos: I don’t know if it’s more important for the Broncos to avenge the Super Bowl loss to the Seattle Seahawks or the regular season loss last year in week seven against the Indianapolis Colts. Probably a little bit of both I suspect. Despite their success last year, a lot of questions have to exist regarding the 2014 Denver Broncos. While the offense should continue to be highly productive, the defense has been revamped and must become a strong force to be reckoned with quickly! I want the Broncos to win in week one but I am always doubtful because I just don’t know what to expect when a new season starts. I had similar feelings last year when the Baltimore Ravens opened up the 2013 season in Denver. The Broncos won that game easily, 49-27. Let’s hope the Broncos have a repeat performance on Sunday night. One thing I do know for sure is that Bronco fans will be more than ready when the Broncos and Colts kickoff another season of Sunday Night Football on NBC!
San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals: The last meaningful game for the Chargers was in the Mile High City when they lost the AFC divisional playoff game to Denver 24-17. Like the Broncos, San Diego will be looking to bounce back after season ending playoff losses. Both the Chargers and Cardinals, thanks to the divisions they call home, often get overshadowed. Both teams however, have to be considered a threat and must never be overlooked. As I mentioned, the Chargers made it to the divisional round of the 2013 AFC playoffs and went 9-7 in the regular season. The Arizona Cardinals finished the 2013 season with a 10-6 record, which is very respectable, but that was only good enough for third place in their division thanks to Seattle and San Francisco finishing the regular season with records of 13-3 and 12-4 respectfully. I find it very difficult to pick a winner in week one because I feel a bit unprepared and consider preseason to mean absolutely nothing, but I am going to lean toward the Cardinals in this week one contest. Football fans love the start of the season and the Cardinal fans will be ready to open the season at home. Not only do I feel the Cardinals have a slight advantage due to being at home, as well as the experience of playing Seattle and San Francisco two times each season, I want them to win this game because when an AFC West team loses, it ultimately benefits the Broncos.
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets: Rookie Derek Carr gets the starting job over Matt Schaub when the Raiders travel across the country to face the New York Jets. The Raiders finished last season 4-12 so expectations are probably pretty low for the Raider fan base and they would be happy with any sign of improvement, even five wins. The New York Jets are coming off of a season where they were 8-8. Bronco fans may tune in to see how divisional foe Oakland fairs, as well as ex-Bronco Eric Decker considering he will be in a less potent offense. Die-hard fans of these two teams not living in the New York area or northern California will probably have to make a trip to a sports bar or find a friend with NFL Sunday Ticket because I don’t see CBS televising this game across the country because it is far from a marquee matchup. Despite last years records, I’m calling this game a toss up…. in more ways than one!
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs: Financially speaking, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is set! Will all that money the Chiefs agreed to pay him turn into wins? Only time will tell! Chief fans better hope the offense improves from what the starting offensive unit showed in preseason. I caught glimpses of the Chiefs in preseason and each time I tuned in, the announcers were talking about how the offense was struggling to move the ball and score points. The last time NFL fans saw the Chiefs, they ended up losing the AFC Wild Card game to the Indianapolis Colts 45-44 (a game that the Chiefs were leading 38-10 early in the third quarter). Tennessee is coming off a losing campaign in 2013 that saw them finish 7-9. Arrowhead Stadium is not a good place to open up the season if you’re coming off of a losing season and want to start the year off right. Since the Broncos don’t kickoff until Sunday night, Bronco fans can watch this game on tv and scout the Chiefs, who visit Denver in week two.
Go Broncos – beat the Colts!