Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/3/12
The 2012 season is all but over in the AFC West as Denver is currently 9-3 and has already clinched the division title, while Kansas City is 2-12, San Diego is 4-8, and Oakland is 3-9. The one thing that is certain about the 2012 season is that as long as Peyton Manning is around, the Broncos are going to be the top dog in the division.Therefore, if teams are going to compete in seasons to come they are going to make significant changes. This article looks ahead to this off-season, and examines the changes that should be made by San Diego, Kansas City and Oakland.Head Coaches It is a foregone conclusion that when this season ends that San Diego head coach Norv Turner will get his pink slip. Following a 2006 season in which the Chargers went 14-2 but lost in the first round of playoffs, the team fired then head coach Marty Schottenheimer and replaced him with Turner.San Diego has gone 3-3 in playoff games under Turner and the team has not been to the playoffs since 2009 when they lost in the divisional round to the New York Jets. Additionally, San Diego went from 13 wins in 2009, to nine wins in 2010, to eight wins in 2011, and now have only four wins so far this season.Whoever replaces Turner will have a big rebuilding project to undertake especially on offense.For Oakland, Dennis Allen is only in his first season as head coach and most likely will remain for at least a second season. However, he is going to have some work to do as he is a defensive minded coach but Oakland’s defense is currently ranked  25th in average passing yards allowed per game and 28th in average rushing yards allowed.Similarly Romeo Crennel will most likely get a second full season with Kansas City but as the Chiefs record and statistics indicate there is a ton of work to be done.Quarterbacks It is hard to argue with the success Denver has had this season with free agent acquisition Peyton Manning or the success experienced by Indianapolis, Washington, and Miami because of their rookie quarterbacks. Therefore, I expect the 2013 offseason to be full of teams signing or drafting their new franchise quarterback. I especially expect this to happen in the AFC West.In the case of the Chargers, I think that the outing of Norv Turner and probably most of his staff might cause San Diego to rethink the quarterback position. The fact of the matter is that Philip Rivers’ statistics are not the greatest and he is giving Chargers fans any hopes of winning a Super Bowl.Rivers has only 2,969 passing yards this season, with 18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and 10 fumbles. Rivers is projected to finish the season with 3,959 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, and 15 fumbles. If these numbers prove to be true it would be Rivers lowest passing yards and touchdowns totals in five years, while the number of interceptions and fumbles would match or exceed his worse single season statistics for those categories.In Oakland the Raiders are continually having trouble at the quarterback position especially after the JaMarcus Russell debacle, but the fact of the matter is that Carson Palmer is not the answer and once again the Raiders are in need of a new quarterback.Palmer had only two seasons in Cincinnati where he led the Bengals to nine wins or more, and failed to lead the team to a playoff win in his seven seasons with the team and thus far in Oakland, Palmer’s record is 7-14. Additionally, Palmer is a interception machine having thrown double digit picks in eight of his nine seasons in the league, and has a career total of 129.Lastly in Kansas City I would be shocked if they did not sign a free agent or draft for the quarterback position this offseason. Matt Cassel has clearly shown that his one great season in New England was more about the talent around him than the talent in him. This season Cassel has only passed for 1,796 yards while throwing for six touchdowns and twice as many interceptions.Brady Quinn has not fared much better accumulating only 635 passing yards while having two touchdown passes and four interceptions.There will be several good talented quarterbacks entering the league next year through the draft and I think that the Chiefs will take a gamble on one of them.Running Backs In Oakland the Raiders need to quit waiting for Darren McFadden to be the next Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster and move on and find someone else.McFadden is in his fifth season in the league, but because of injury has failed to complete a full 16 game season, and has only played in 15 games in the since the beginning of the 2011 season. When McFadden has seen playing time his statistics have been less than impressive. McFadden has lost at least one fumble in each of his five seasons and has rushed for less than 650 yards in four of his five seasons while never reaching double digit touchdowns in a single season, And the Raiders wonder why they can manage a winning season?In San Diego, the Chargers will not be giving up on Ryan Mathews yet but he does need to show that he is the same back that managed 1,091 rushing yards, with six touchdowns in 2011.Jamaal Charles is a good back for Kansas City and has 1,055 yards on the season but needs to have more single game totals where he rushes for 233 yards like he did against New Orleans and fewer single games where he rushes for 39 yards like he did the second time the Chiefs played the Chargers. Other Offense Despite posting a decent season in 2011, Oakland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey continues to maintain his status as of one the all-time worse top ten draft picks. Except for last season when Heyward-Bey managed to get 975 receiving yards, and four touchdowns, Heyward-Bey has only managed 970 yards, and five touchdowns. Adding to Heyward-Bey’s problems is the fact that tight-end Brandon Myers and wide receiver Denarius Moore are becoming the go to players in the passing game.It is time for Oakland to cut their losses and let Heyward-Bey go.In Kansas City, the Chiefs need to improve their passing game as well. Dwayne Bowe is currently the team’s leading receiver with 731 receiving yards and three touchdowns. However, the next two leading receivers Tony Moeaki and Dexter McCluster combined have only five more receiving yards, and one less touchdown.In San Diego one of the biggest disappointments this season has been tight-end Antonio Gates, who is projected to have the fewest receiving yards and touchdowns in a single season since his rookie season. The passing game as a whole is okay, but is not doing enough to win games and needs a new game plan going forward.Defense                              Another reason that Denver has done well this season is because of the good play of their defense. The other three teams in the division have not done as well and is another reason for a poor season.The Oakland Raiders have the worse defense in the division and one of the worst defenses in the whole league. Oakland has given up 3,079 passing yards and 1,565 rushing yards, while only accumulating 772 total tackles, and giving the most points in the league, 376.Kansas City is currently ranked 26th in the league in average rushing yards allowed per game, 129.3, have given up 322 points this season, and have the third fewest takeaways in the league with 11. Meanwhile San Diego is ranked 21st in average passing yards allowed per game, 240.6, and have given up 257 yards this season.I do not know what players will end up where but these three teams are going to try and make vast improvements to their defenses through the end of the season and into the next season.Final Analysis With all the changes that are going to happen this offseason it is going to be exciting to see who is suiting up for the Chargers, Chiefs, and Raiders next season especially at the quarterback position. 
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