- Bill Williamson, ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter
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We put together our AFC West midseason team.
We have a few ground rules: We’re using a 3-4 defense because three teams in the division use the 3-4 as their base. We took some liberties at some positions. For example, we aren’t taking a fullback, but we are using the two best running backs, and we’re not worrying about where players line up within their position group (left vs. right tackle, for example). We’re going with the best two tackles, two best safeties, best four linebackers, etc.
Before we look at our midseason team, here is a look at our spring All-AFC West team:
Philip Rivers, San Diego
Why: Rivers has been brilliant this season. He is on pace to set the NFL season passing yardage mark. He has thrown for 2,944 yards in nine games despite playing with a depleted receiving crew.
Why: These are the two best running backs in the division. Both players are a big reason why their teams are doing well. McFadden has 757 rushing yards in seven games, and Charles has 719 yards and is leading the NFL with a 6.4 yard-per carry average.
Why: Denver is doing just fine in the post-Brandon Marshall era. Lloyd led the NFL with 878 receiving yards after Week 9. Gaffney had 45 catches for 516 yards. Lloyd and Gaffney are really clicking with quarterback Kyle Orton.
Antonio Gates, San Diego
Why: Gates is having a special season. Despite missing one game with a foot injury, he has 40 catches for 663 yards and nine touchdowns. He is the best tight end in the NFL.
Why: These third-season players have a chance to be very good for several years.
Why: Lilja is a big reason why Kansas City’s offensive line is much better. Gallery, when healthy, leads an improved line in Oakland.
Nick Hardwick, San Diego
Why: Hardwick is the anchor of a strong offense in San Diego.
Why: Seymour has been brilliant in Oakland’s three-game winning streak. He has been very disruptive. Kelly is finally earning his big paycheck with a strong season. Dorsey, the No. 5 pick in 2008, is having a breakout season.
Why: Hali and Johnson are both playing at an All-Pro pace for the resurgent Chiefs. Phillips can be a pass-rush beast at times. Williams, who was arrested on suspicion of driving drunk earlier Friday, leads the division with 72 tackles.
Why: Asomugha and Flowers represent the old and new guard of cornerback playing in a division known for strong play at the position.
Why: Both players have been playing very well in recent weeks. Berry looks very much like the player Kansas City envisioned when the Chiefs selected him with the No. 5 overall pick in April.
Shane Lechler, Oakland
Why: Lechler is the best punter in the NFL.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland
Why: Janikowski is not having a great season, but he’s leading the NFL in points.
Darren Sproles, San Diego
Why: There are some good, young returners in this division, but Sproles has been the most consistent.
Why: There is no player having a better season in the NFL.
Offensive player: McFadden
Why: He gets the slight edge over Gates. McFadden is leading the NFL in rushing yards per game.
Defensive player: Hali
Why: He gets the slight edge over Seymour. Hali has been consistently good all season.
Coach: Todd Haley, Kansas City
Why: His team has come out of nowhere and has been in every game it has played.
Rookie: Tony Moeaki, tight end, Kansas City
Why: The third-round pick from Iowa is already Matt Cassel’s favorite target. He has 30 catches.
We put together our AFC West midseason team.We have a few ground rules: We’re using a 3-4 defense because three teams in the division use the 3-4 as their base.