It's no surprise that the national media have done again what they always do, pick the Chargers to win the AFC West. Like the Texans, the Chargers always look good on paper. They have a Pro Bowl Quarterback, a good running back, Antonio Gates, etc. They look like the cream of the crop while the Chiefs, Raiders and Donkeys look like 8-8 teams at best.
The Chiefs suffer from the same chronic problems they've had for years- journeyman, lackluster quarterback, underachieving receivers and most of all, 2nd rate or worse Offensive and Defensive Lines. The Defensive Line has been a Who's Who of draft busts, from Ryan Simms, to Eddie Freeman, Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson. It's hard to think of a team with a worse string of top position draft pick busts. Dorsey and Jackson still wear the uniform (though to be fair, Dorsey's had moments of decency, but had been light years away from being a top ten draft pick).
The strength of the team, obviously, are the running backs who have excelled despite average at best Offensive Line play. No one need look any further than the heyday of Larry Johnson to see how well an average back can do with a great Offensive Line to realize how this team could excel had the Chiefs put some muscle into upgrading the line- but they didn't. They did Nothing serious beyond shuffle of low rent journeymen. And Barry Richardson is nothing short of a disaster area and no single player spotlights the teams problems more than him.
Lastly, there is Free Agency overreach Matt Cassel who rode a decent stretch behind an excellent team to the land of fat paychecks. We can only hope that Jim Zorn will help him, but Cassel has so many challenges to overcome, a deer in the headlights presence and a Tebow-esque throwing motion being the biggest. NFL quarterbacks are not supposed to look like they are heaving 10 lbs barbells. This league is about wrist snappers with zip. Add in his terrible indecision problems and inaccuracy and, despite charity "pro bowl" designation he got behind the likes of David Garrard, you have a glorified Damon Huard.
But as Chris Berman is so fond of saying, "there's a reason they play the games." Steve Breaston could turn out to be a dynamic player who can improve Bowe. Run DMC, Charles and Jones could continue to improve as outlet receivers in imaginative play-calling, and the Offensive Line might step up and play better or maybe even find a new component somewhere, hopefully at right tackle.
As any seasoned NFL fan knows, the game is won and lost on the line of scrimmage, and without any superior players on either side of it, the prospects for the Chiefs probably do not include an appearance, let alone a deep run, into the playoffs. At some point, Mr. Hunt's wallet will have to come out if that's ever going to happen.