How the West was lost

into this year, I had a theory: the right teams will always be there come
playoff time. No matter what, the team that has a chance to do damage in the
playoffs will find a way to get in, and the pretenders will shoot themselves in
the foot.

no longer have that theory.

watching the Oakland Raiders self-destruct on Sunday and the San Diego Chargers
self-destruct for the season’s first 12 weeks, I was still convinced that one
of those teams was better suited to make a postseason run than the Denver

Time has officially expired, and the Broncos will be overmatched by the
Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. The San Diego Chargers, picked by many to
compete for the Super Bowl this year, will be watching from home.

Diego certainly showed they are not championship-caliber, yet there has always
been the feeling they have enough talent to make life miserable for the top
teams if they can put it all together. Philip Rivers is not an elite
quarterback, but a very capable one.

Raiders would have likely been overmatched too, but they have a quarterback who
is quite familiar with the Steelers in Carson Palmer and a few playmakers on
both sides of the ball. They were badly hurt by the loss of running back Darren

Sunday, sitting in the upper deck at the O.Co Coliseum, I believed the Raiders
would rise to the occasion with Denver scuffling at home against Kansas City.
Instead, the Chargers completely took over after an early Raiders touchdown and
never looked back, and you could have heard a pin drop in that stadium walking
out after the game.

like last year, we have a seemingly undeserving postseason team getting a home
game. Last year, the Seattle Seahawks proved people wrong by upsetting the
defending Super Bowl champion Saints, 41-36, but that team had a quarterback
who had been to a Super Bowl and a running back capable of taking over a game.

really has no playmakers capable of dominating a game. They have a solid
running attack and a defense competent enough to keep them in games, but no one
worthy of extra attention from the Steelers.

Chargers will still be thought of as the best team in that division, even if
the tiebreakers kept them out of the playoff picture. Three years ago at 8-8,
they knocked off the 12-4 Indianapolis Colts, who had won nine straight.

somewhere in the abyss that is their offseason, the Raiders will be seeing
yellow penalty flags in their nightmares. They set the single-season record for
penalties this year, continually hampering key opportunities much to the
chagrin of first-year head coach Hue Jackson.

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