Saturday Night Live’s Gilda Radner played the recurring role of Rosanne Rosannadanna on that iconic hit show. Ms. Rosannadanna’s catch-phrase was, “You never know.” Never has that phrase been apter than this week in the National Football League. Just as the season is ready to get underway, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck decides to call it a career. Opinions on Luck’s decision range from understanding to outrage, but we certainly know that it raises more questions than it answers for the Colts. Are the teams in the AFC West likely to surprise Gildshire in the same way? Is Derek Carr going to leave camp and open a rural Alameda County bait shop? That isn’t likely, but questions are facing the teams in this division.
Denver Broncos, last season 6-10. Missed playoffs.
The Broncos are a storied franchise with multiple Super Bowl titles and their share of Hall of Famers. The last couple of years, though, have shown a steep dropoff in wins for the Mile High loyalists. The Broncos hope a new coach and a new quarterback will inject life back into the franchise. Veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio gets his first head coaching gig at the age of sixty-one. Meanwhile, veteran quarterback Joe Flacco takes control of the offense at the age of thirty-four. Who says “new” has to mean “young?”
Kansas City Chiefs, last season 12-4, lost AFC Championship Game.
The Chiefs electrified the scoreboard last season with their high-powered offense. League Most Valuable Player Patrick Mahomes was nothing short of spectacular in leading his team to the brink of the Super Bowl. What kept the Chiefs from the Promised Land? A defense that was almost as spectacularly bad as the offense was good. Defensive changes all over the field, as well as in the coordinator position have the Arrowhead Tomahawk Choppers believing this could be the year. Will the league begin to figure out Mahomes? Can the defense pull its weight? Those are the questions that will determine the fate of the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs.
Los Angeles Chargers, last season 12-4, lost in the divisional round.
The holdout news in the American Football Conference is all about Antonio Holmes, but the Chargers have their own holdout headache. Star runner melvin Gordon wants more money and has pledged to be absent until he gets it. That throws a wrench into Head Coach Anthony Lynn’s desire to run first, to protect aging quarterback Philip Rivers. Luckily, there are other competent runners in the Chargers’ fold, but are they Melvin Gordon? Probably not. Is that a long-term problem for the Bolts? Probably, yes. Stay tuned.
Oakland Raiders, last season 4-12. Missed playoffs.
As the subject of this season’s HBO Hard Knocks series, everyone is getting all they want to see out of the Oakland Raiders training camp. HBO chose well with the Raiders, as they are a team in seemingly constant turmoil. Everyone knew that mercurial receiver Antonio Brown would be a challenge for Head Coach Jon Gruden. No one knew that Brown would go to war with the league over the helmet they mandated he wears. As we go to press, it is an ongoing debate, the outcome of which may impact the Raiders well into the regular season. Can Gruden get his team under control? Can the league get Antonio Brown under control? Does it matter, because the Chiefs are much better than the Raiders anyway? Some answers will come as the leaves fall from the trees.
That’s our report on the teams in the AFC West, and completes our examination of the Amwerican Football Conference. Catch up on what you missed by looking around the rest of the Gildshire Sports pages. We put the NFC, division by division, under the Gildshire microscope beginning later this week.