The Wild Wild West. A dangerous place for the pundit.
Raiders. Raiders would have almost certainly been playing in the second round of the playoffs if not for losing first and second string quarterbacks and suffering a season-ending loss to the Broncos that cost them a division title and home field advantage. The only team in recent memory to win a playoff game with a third stringer under center was the Texans in 2011 with T.J. Yeates. But they beat the Bengals so it almost doesn’t count. And nothing against Connor Cook, but when your QB is 18 of 45 with 3 INTs and rating of 30.0, it’s going to be a long plane flight back to California. With even an average Derek Carr day, the Raiders had a decent shot at beating a Texans team with Brock Osweiler at the helm. So Carr (brother of David – who, by the way, still sucks) and most of the offensive weaponry is still intact. And they now have “The Beast”. With that addition, Latavius Murray might become the league’s best third down back and catch about 60 passes when it really counts. The Raiders defense is the weak link here – which is a surprise on a Jack Del Rio coached team. The Raiders end their championship drought when they clinch the title in the last game against the Chargers. The emaciated ghost of Al Davis croaks “Just win Baby” as the champagne pours. But sadly, Walking Dead Al continues to roam the soon-to-be abandoned corridors of Oakland Coliseum hoping for an Uber ride to Vegas for all eternity. Oakland takes home the silver and black cake with an 11-5 record.
Chiefs. It’s hard to bet against the Chiefs. Red thinks they got the steal of the draft in Patrick Mahomes. He looks like the real thing and may be starting by November. Of course he will have to find someone other than Travis Kelce to throw to. And C.J. Spiller and the running back committee will have to take charge at times. A lot rides on the Thursday night opener in Foxboro. If they knock off the champions, then the Chiefs may swoop in on their war ponies and beat enough of the weaklings and mediocrities on the schedule to grab a wildcard spot. A humiliating loss could send the team into a tail spin. Red likes the Chiefs chances. Kansas City grabs the last AFC Wildcard spot with 9-7 record.
Broncos. New head coach Vance Joseph is going to be a winner. But sorry Vance, probably not this season. Yes the Broncos defense will keep them in a lot of games. But this may be a year that Red’s Rule (score 13 points and beat the Cowboys) takes a road trip to Colorado. Neither Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch is going to drag this offense over the goal line anywhere near enough times for the Broncos to have a shot at playing in January. Having the injury prone Jamaal Charles and C.J. Anderson as your best options in the backfield is not encouraging. Denver stumbles out of the gate and are lucky to finish 8-8.
Chargers. Red has always like this franchise. Everyone in Southern California seemed so happy at the games sitting half-naked in the warm sunshine of Jack Murphy Stadium. The fans were in fact beautiful and so was the way the Chargers played the game. The offense was exhilirating and the high scoring games were entertaining. Having Red’s favorite LT for a decade helped cement his love for this franchise. But that love has been a one-way street. Red has repeatedly picked the Chargers and they have rewarded him with disdain. So the best thing Red could do for the Charges is shit all over their prospects for this season. That he will gladly do. Charges are woeful in their new home. Just how stupid do you have to be leave San Diego? You’ll go 4-12 and like it.