Good News/Bad News (2013 AFC West)

By Russell S. Baxter

Pro Football Guru

It may technically still be the offseason, but there’s never a bad time when it comes to reminiscing NFL-style.

Here’s the second of our eight divisional reviews of the 2013 season, in which we look at the positives and negatives for all 32 teams, with a twinge of recent history and trends as well. We’ve already taken a look at the NFC West.

Next up on the list is the division that gave us three playoff teams in ’13: the AFC West.

Denver Broncos (13-3)

Good News: As has been well documented, the Broncos set numerous offensive records in 2013, scoring the most points (606) and most touchdowns (76) in a season in the NFL’s 94-year history. Quarterback Peyton Manning also set single-season league marks with 5,477 passing yards and 55 scoring tosses on his way to being named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the fifth time in his career. In two seasons with the Broncos, the prolific signal-caller has thrown 92 touchdown passes, second in franchise history to Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway (300)…

Despite the loss of perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady for most of the season, as well as some other issues as well, the Broncos allowed a league-low 20 sacks in 2013. All told, Manning himself was sacked just 19 times in as many games this past season, 18 of those in the regular-season and just once during Denver’s three-game postseason run…

Bad News: Defense was certainly not the Broncos’ forte in 2013 as the club allowed a whopping 399 points during the regular season, 168 points more than their Super Bowl XLVIII Seattle and 110 points more than they allowed the previous season (289). John Fox’s club limited only five of their 19 overall points to 17 points or less while Denver allowed at least 20 points in 13 of those 19 contests…

The Broncos’ 43-8 setback to the Seattle Seahawks in early February was the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl loss, the most by any team in league annals. It’s also worth noting that the 35-point loss was tied for the third-largest setback in that game’s 48-year history. There have been five Super Bowls decided by 32 or more points and Denver has been on the short end of three of those contests…

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)

Good News: For the second straight season, an NFL team went from 2-14 to 11-5. Led by new head coach Andy Reid, Kansas City got off to a 9-0 start and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2010. A year after scoring a league-low 211 points, Kansas City more than doubled that total (430) in 2013. Veteran quarterback Alex Smith picked up where he left off with the 49ers by keeping his mistakes to a minimum. The efficient signal-caller threw just seven interceptions while throwing for a career-high 23 scores…

It was also a big year for running back Jamaal Charles, who not only finished third in the NFL in rushing with 1,287 yards but led the Chiefs in receptions (70) and receiving yards (693), as well as scoring grabs (7). Charles not only finished second in the NFL with 1,980 yards from scrimmage but led the entire league with 19 total touchdowns. In 2012, Kansas City scored a mere 18 touchdowns in 16 games…

Bad News: After squandering a 38-10 third-quarter lead in an eventual 45-44 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card Playoffs, the Chiefs have not only not won a postseason game since 1993 but their losing streak in the playoffs has reached eight straight games (and counting), the longest-such streak in NFL history...

Although Reid’s clubs got off to a great start in 2013, it’s how you finish that counts. Including the playoff loss to the Colts, the Chiefs dropped six of their last eight games and were a sieve defensively. Kansas City surrendered a whopping 239 points during its 2-6 finish and allowed 27 or more points in six of those outings. During the team’s 9-0 start, Kansas City gave up a mere 111 points and held each of those opponents to 17 points or less…

San Diego Chargers (9-7)

Good News: Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers earned NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2013, quite a turnaround for the talented signal-caller following a pair of sub-par seasons. The 10-year pro combined to throw 53 touchdown passes from 2011-12 but also totaled 47 of the team’s 54 turnovers. This past season, Rivers completed 69.5 percent of his throws, tops in the league, amassing 4,478 yards and 32 scores though the air. More importantly, the Chargers’ leader committed only 13 turnovers, led the Bolts to the playoffs and played error-free football in the postseason split with the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos…

Besides the job done by Rivers, there were also other offensive highlights. Running back Ryan Mathews ran for a career-high 1,255 yards and wide receiver Keenan Allen became the 17th rookie in NFL annals to total 1,000 or more receiving yards. And a year after being sacked 49 times during regular season, Rivers was sacked only 35 times in 18 total outings in 2013…

Bad News: Dating back to 2002 and NFL realignment, the Chargers are an impressive 112-80, tied for the sixth-best record in the NFL over that span with the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens. But of the five teams ahead of them (New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles), all but Philadelphia has won at least one Super Bowl while the Eagles played in Super Bowl XXXIX. Meanwhile, the Broncos just made an appearance in Super Bowl XLVIII and the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII. San Diego’s lone appearance in the Big Game remains a 49-26 loss to the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX…

While the Chargers only committed 21 turnovers this past season, Mike McCoy’s club only totaled 17 takeaways, the fewest among the NFL’s 12 playoff teams in 2013. In fact, only the Houston Texans (11) and New York Jets (15) forced fewer turnovers than the Bolts this past year…

Oakland Raiders (4-12)

Good News: Although running back Darren McFadden once again failed to play in all 16 games for the sixth time in as many seasons, the Raiders found other ways to move the football on the ground. Veteran running back Rashad Jennings, signed as a free agent from the Jacksonville Jaguars, led the club with 733 yards rushing. Add in 292 yards receiving on 36 catches (fourth-most on the team) and Jennings totaled 1,025 yards from scrimmage and led the club with six touchdowns. It’s also worth noting that quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Oakland’s opening-weekend starter, finished second on the club with 576 yards rushing. That was just nine yards fewer than Carolina Panthers’ signal-caller Cam Newton, who led all NFL quarterbacks in 2013 with 585 yards on the ground…

Bad News: The franchise once known for its “Commitment to Excellence” is on one horrendous roll. Since finishing 11-5, winning the AFC West and reaching Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002, the Raiders are a combined 53-123 and have gone 11 straight years without a winning season, their best mark being 8-8 finishes in 2010 and 2011, and have also lost 11 or more games in nine of those campaigns…

Since finishing 8-8 in 2010 and a perfect 6-0 vs. their AFC West rivals, Oakland is a combined 6-12 vs. the Broncos, Chargers and Chiefs the last two seasons, including just 2-7 at home vs. their longtime divisional adversaries…