Welcome back everyone to the Fancy Boys Football Preview. I’m happy to report that upward of three million people have read these articles so far. You are officially in good company. Today we are talking about the AFC West, possibly the most entertaining division in the NFL, and assuredly one of the most well coached, with a very notable, red haired, quarterback obsessed exception.
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
2018 Record: 12-4
My 2019 Predicted Record: 13-3
Preseason Power Ranking: 2
2019 Strength of Schedule: 5th Hardest Schedule
Andy Reid has aged like fine wine. Fat, Hawaiian shirt wearing wine. The Chiefs got rid of half of their domestic abusers but not all of them, because those who don’t learn from their mistakes and so on. Tyreke Hill remains on the team because Hill might not have hit his girlfriend when she was pregnant. Ya know, as opposed to when he was accused of hitting her the other times. Oh, and the past history of him hitting women. Just gonna pop our heads in the sand on this one, aren’t we Kansas City?
With Hill still on the team, along with Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce, the pass catching unit is among the best in football. Patrick Mahomes was a gift from the football gods last year, just in terms of making games fun and interesting. He is the bizarro Baltimore Ravens, a team hellbent on making things as boring as humanly possible.
They made a ton of moves on defense which would lead you to believe this team is better all around, but there are reasons to believe in potential regression. Damian Williams is now the starting running back and guy getting picked several rounds too early du jour. Williams is okay. He’s not great, and Reid will no doubt replace him 5 weeks into the season with some other guy with one cut quickness. In reality, the running game is just the garnish on the plate. We aren’t here to see Williams average 3 yards per carry. We are here for hot, nasty offense. The Chiefs will have plenty of that this year.
Is This Team Better Than Last Year: Offense maybe a hair down, but the defense should be better, due in large part to the fact that the defense can’t be much worse than it was last year.
Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: As long as Patrick Mahomes is in one piece, this team is a contender.
Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: Patrick Mahomes is getting drafted too early. That doesn’t matter. If you ain’t first, you’re last. Draft him.
Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: Damian Williams is the guy who is gonna be drafted by the one person in every league who just picks best available and finished 5-8 every year.
If This Team Was a Song: The Perfect Drug by NIN. The offense last year was like taking meth for the first time. This season is gonna be chasing that feeling and it never quite feeling the same.
Team: Los Angeles Chargers Chargers
2018 Record: 12-4
My 2019 Predicted Record: 11-5
Preseason Power Ranking: 6
2019 Strength of Schedule: 16th Hardest Schedule
It could be argued that nobody has had a tougher training camp than the Chargers. They lost one of the top young safeties in the game with Derwin James going down, and Marvin Gordon is digging in and preparing to miss regular season games while he awaits a contract. This goes on top of the fact that receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams have never really been known as the picture of health, and that goes double for tight end Hunter Henry, whose injury last year caused Antonio Gates to have to come out of retirement.
This team is one of the most talented in the league on paper, but when the games start, they are basically all built of rusty AMC Gremlin parts. This team also has absolutely no fans. Their stadiums are almost entirely filled by fans of the opposing team, which is a perfect “fuck you” to owner Dean Spanos, who deserves to have his team booed lustily in their own stadium every week for actively wanting to play second fiddle to the Rams in LA in a massive stadium that nobody will pay attention to the game in. You might as well move this team to Indianapolis, because it’s basically a fly over team as it is now. Just complete the look and make them the second most popular team in the 745th most popular town in America.
Is This Team Better Than Last Year: Not if Melvin Gordon holds out.
Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: They already lost their top safety in Derwin James. They desperately need Gordon if they are going to be anywhere near contention.
Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: Austin Ekeler is going to catch a million balls this season if Gordon really does hold out.
Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: Melvin Gordon. Don’t be the guy who is left with your dick in your hand because you used one of your top two picks on Gordon, only to see him hold out for the season.
If This Team Was a Song: Live Forever by Billy Joe Shaver. Philip Rivers doesn’t seem to even be remotely slowing down. He has nine kids. He might as well play til he is 60 because that house must be an absolute hell to be in. Also, someone give Philip Rivers a goddamn vasectomy.
Team: Denver Broncos
2018 Record: 6-10
My 2019 Predicted Record: 6-10
Preseason Power Ranking: 19
2019 Strength of Schedule: 2nd Hardest Schedule
Last we saw new Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco, he was spending two and a half months sulking on the sidelines while watching the fact that he lost his job to a guy who can’t effectively throw a forward pass. This year, he has rookie Drew Lock behind him. The upside for Flacco is, there isn’t too much of a groundswell of support for Lock to be the starting quarterback. For better or much more likely worse, this is Flacco’s team this year.
Phillip Lindsey, who is good, is still around. Royce Freeman, who is bad, is still around and apparently going to get more carries this season in spite of being bad. Emmanuel Sanders is back, and Courtland Sutton is going to be looked at to make a huge step forward with this team. They also drafted Noah Fant to play tight end.
Vic Fangio is their head coach! Von Miller is still around! But there just isn’t much that gets me excited about this team. They are just kind of…there. The Broncos are essentially The Simpsons. They used to be fun and interesting, and now they just kind of exist.
A lot of that blame should go to general manger and Secretariat stand-in John Elway. He is truly proof that you can ride past success forever if you are sledding on the blood of everyone you threw under the bus ahead of you. They perpetually botch draft picks. They haven’t found a good free agent since Peyton Manning died. But, as long as Elway wants the job, he will have it. So fuck the Broncos.
Is This Team Better Than Last Year: Yes, by the grace of god.
Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: Not a shot in hell.
Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: Emmanuel Sanders. He is back and feeling good. Joe Flacco has to throw to somebody.
Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: Royce Freeman. He has been racing up fantasy draft boards since Vic Fangio said they are going to go to a running back by committee. This offense isn’t good enough to sustain one running back, let alone two. Plus, Freeman was bad last year.
If This Team Was a Song: Take Me Home by Phil Collins-Because I desperately want Vic Fangio to up and quit his job and move back to Chicago and be the Bears defensive Coordinator again. I miss him so much.
Team: Oakland Raiders
2018 Record: 4-12
My 2019 Predicted Record: 5-11
Preseason Power Ranking: 23
2019 Strength of Schedule: Toughest Schedule in NFL
I was trying to think of a good analogy to describe the Raiders, and I think the best I can think of is that the Raiders are Malort. It’s something you try to avoid at all costs, and when you do find yourself taking part in it, you really don’t enjoy it, and you want nothing to do with the people that are really, really into it.
It’s a known fact at this point that there is a dumb fan bump for every time a team is on Hard Knocks. Remember a couple years ago when, after a season of Hard Knocks, everyone was convinced Jameis Winston was going to be the breakout star of the season? Yea, it didn’t happen. It never does. What Hard Knocks does every year is attempt to make compelling television out of the inanity of NFL training camp, which isn’t very interesting. They take thousands of hours of footage, and widdle it down to a few team approved hours that make every team look like they are on the verge of absolute greatness.
Take that with the fact that Jon Gruden is a veteran tv talking head who can provide a good quote, and you have the makings of a hype train run out of control. This team is better than last year, because when you add Antonio Brown and draft a running back in the first round, you have to be better. They also used a number of draft picks on defensive players, but because the defense was such total ass last year, the changes on that side will be more incremental. Is there more talent on the field? Absolutely. That doesn’t mean they will be better, though. You know why?
Jon Gruden might not be a very good football coach. There is a lot more evidence in the past 19 years to lead you to believe that he might not be great, and he’s just a guy who talks a good game and then outsmarts himself when it comes to quarterbacks? Of course Mike Glennon and Nathan Peterman are the backups. They are two guys who the rest of the league figured out are bad, and in Peterman’s case, historically bad, and Gruden decided, “You know what, I’m the smartest guy in the room, I’ll make them good quarterbacks.”
Gruden’s manifest destiny is to bench Derek Carr for Nathan Peterman, watch Peterman throw a dozen interceptions in a game, then praise Peterman for his poise.
Is This Team Better Than Last Year: Like asking if El Burrito Loco is better than Taco Bell. I mean, yea, sorta, but both are still gonna leave you hunched over a toilet for 3 hours.
Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: If the rest of the league turns into characters from Oregon Trail and get dysentery, then no, they probably still aren’t contenders.
Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: Derek Carr. He threw for a ton of yards last year because the defense sucked and he had to throw 50 times per game. The defense isn’t that much better.
Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: Pick a wide receiver. Like, literally, any of them. I watch Hard Knocks every week and can’t name a single receiver off the top of my head.
If This Team Was a Song: I Can Make You a Man from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Jon Gruden goes around his office singing a version of this every night about making men great quarterbacks. Prove me wrong.