In 2013, the AFC West had three teams make the postseason. Not only did these teams flourish throughout the season, a major factor for the winning was due to the quarterback play. Led by Peyton Manning, Alex Smith, and Philip Rivers, the AFC West should be highly contested once again.
Peyton Manning dominated the regular season and breezed to the AFC West title. Believe it or not, Manning’s completion percentage was slightly lower than in 2012, but his touchdown production was astronomical.
Peyton Manning finished with 55 touchdown passes on 68.3% passing, while only throwing 10 interceptions. There were a few changes in the Broncos’ receiving corps, but expectations are as high as ever for Denver. The Broncos will still be one of the most explosive offenses in 2014. That’s a guarantee.
Alex Smith helped change the culture in Kansas City for one season. In 15 games, Smith finished with a (11-4) record and a wild card berth. Although Smith is thought of as a game manager, he finished with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Those were the most touchdown passes in his career.
Since 2006, Philip Rivers hasn’t missed a start, yet, in 2013, Rivers was playing the best football of his career. Although San Diego only finished at (9-7) Philip Rivers willed his team to the postseason down the stretch. If Rivers can improve off of his 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, the Chargers should be right in the thick of another playoff run.
There’s one newcomer to the AFC West and that’s Oakland’s off season acquisition, Matt Schaub. The former Houston Texans’ quarterback lost games, his confidence, and his job in a disappointing 2013 season. If he’s able to have a resurgence, the Raiders could be a sleeper for a playoff spot.
If Schaub is not capable of reverting back to his prior form, Derek Carr is one of the rookies waiting to take his spot.
Here are the AFC West quarterback rankings.
4. Matt Schaub- Oakland Raiders
Matt Schaub couldn’t get out of town fast enough after the disastrous season with the Houston Texans. Luckily, he’s able to find a fresh start with the Oakland Raiders in 2014. If Schaub is unable to make plays early in the season, Derek Carr will be waiting anxiously in the wings for his time to shine.
3. Alex Smith- Kansas City Chiefs
A season ago, Alex Smith was the newcomer to the AFC West. With his steady play early on, Kansas City breezed through the first half of the schedule. They faltered down the stretch and in the playoff loss to Indianapolis, but Alex Smith found his stride under Andy Reid.
2. Philip Rivers- San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers led a scrappy bunch of Chargers into the final Wild Card spot last season. Once again, a lot is expected of San Diego during the regular season. Philip Rivers played some of his best ball in his career in 2013. The San Diego Chargers are a dark horse for a Super Bowl appearance.
1. Peyton Manning- Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning was breaking all types of records, while demolishing opposing defenses. Denver got all the way to the Super Bowl before playing their worst game of the season. Now Peyton Manning is back with more vengeance on his mind. Could he follow in John Elway’s footsteps and win a Super Bowl before riding off into the sunset?