AFC West: Tyler Thipgen

AFC West 2009 Super Bowl chances

January, 29, 2009
1/29/09
10:15
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

OK, I can see where there would be trepidation and skepticism when reading about the Super Bowl chances of AFC West teams.

Yes, the division was won by the 8-8 San Diego Chargers, marking the first time in 23 years that a team made the playoffs with an 8-8 record. Also, no team from this division has advanced to the Super Bowl since the 2002 season (Oakland). It is the longest current division drought in the NFL without a trip to the Super Bowl.

But year after year, there is a surprise team that makes a Super Bowl run. So we will examine the chances of each team in this division and reasonable timeline to make a Super Bowl run.

Silly? Maybe. But remember, the Arizona Cardinals are playing in the Super Bowl in three days. Sometimes silly happens.

San Diego Chargers

  • 2008 record: 8-8 (9-9 counting postseason)
  • Last time in the playoffs: 2008
  • 2009 offseason story line: The Chargers need to figure out whether they will keep running back LaDainian Tomlinson or try to replace him.
  • What does this team need to be Super in 2009: San Diego needs a running game, a healthy Shawne Merriman and better early-season play on both sides of the ball.
  • Realistic 2009 Super Bowl chances: Hot, maybe or not? Hot.
  • Realistic Super Bowl timeframe: 2009.

Denver Broncos

  • 2008 record: 8-8
  • Last time in the playoffs: 2005
  • 2009 offseason story line: The team is in the midst of an historic change. Out is the face of the franchise, coach Mike Shanahan, after 14 seasons and two Super Bowl titles. In is 32-year-old former New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
  • What does this team need to be Super in 2009: It needs McDaniels to take quarterback Jay Cutler to the next level. It needs a huge offseason cache of key acquisitions on defense and it needs immediate results.
  • Realistic 2009 Super Bowl chances: Hot, maybe or not? Maybe.
  • Realistic Super Bowl timeframe: 2010.

Oakland Raiders

  • 2008 record: 5-11
  • Last time in the playoffs: 2002
  • 2009 offseason story line: Who is going to be the coach? Can the Raiders make key additions on offense without making the big-dollar mistakes they made last year?
  • What does this team need to be Super in 2009: Oakland needs quarterback JaMarcus Russell to make a sudden leap and become a legitimate quarterback. It needs strong receiver play and more consistent play on defense.
  • Realistic 2009 Super Bowl chances: Hot, maybe or not? Not
  • Realistic Super Bowl timeframe: 2011

Kansas City Chiefs

  • 2008 record: 2-14
  • Last time in the playoffs: 2006
  • 2009 offseason story line: New general manager Scott Pioli gives the franchise some excitement as it tries to rebound from winning six games in the past two seasons. Pioli's first order of business is to find a coach.
  • What does this team need to be Super in 2009: Great quarterback play from either incumbent Tyler Thigpen or a newcomer, and fast results from a revamped defense.
  • Realistic 2009 Super Bowl chances: Hot, maybe or not? Not.
  • Realistic Super Bowl timeframe: 2011

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