Madden 18 – AFC West– Team Preview
In this series we look at the teams in the AFC WEST and rate them for their potential in madden 18. The AFC WEST is one of the toughest divisions in football with super bowl 50 winner in 2016 and two playoff teams in last season, the division contains some of the best young talent in the NFL, this is division could fill quickly or three teams could fall till late in the draft.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs won the division last year, but are a team that is hard to predict, they have a talented defence with top young players at every level, their offense is under a rebuild at the moment after releasing RB Jamaal Charles and WR Jeremy Maclin and trading up in the first round to select QB Patrick MaHomes, they are planning for the future,
PLAYER TO WATCH, WR TYREEK HILL, Tyreek is speedster receiver that can create mismatches with any defender via his athleticism and route running technique, the chiefs have deployed him as a WR, HB and returner, he totalled 12 tds with 593 receiving yards and 267 rushing and 592 return yards, as a madden talent he can create so many different opportunities to make big plays and get the ball in the end zone, starting the franchise at 83 overall leaves him in a great position to dominate for the duration of the franchise and on a cheap rookie contract,
OVER RATED PLAYER, OT Eric Fisher, It’s hard to think of any single player that is over rated on such a balanced team, I know an offensive tackle as over rated, but Fisher has struggled with getting the better of the top defensive talent he faces in the AFC west and at 76 overall he would only be a below average tackle but after signing a 48 million contract extension an expensive one,
WEAKNESS, WIDE RECEIVER, Outside of Tyreek Hill the chiefs are short of top tier talent on the outside to scare most defences after releasing Jeremey Maclin, yes what they have are young and fast but Chris Conley at 76 and Albert Wilson 74 overall are good developmental prospects that don’t worry the top end DBS, Travis Kelce is a top receiving TE but he can’t carry the whole pass attack either, but do you have the time to develop them in a franchise while developing QB Pat MaHomes,
WRAP UP, The Chiefs overall have all the key pieces on defence to return to the playoffs lead by Justin Huston, Eric Berry, Marcus Peters, Chris Jones. On offense Spencer Ware is going to bell the cow back expected to carry the ball 20 times a game, but will he be able to carry the load and open up the field for the pass game, Pat MaHomes is going to be a fun QB to user with his speed and throw power but his accuracy could leave you frustrated by times, QB Alex Smith could be good trade bait to bring in draft picks or a player, oline is not the most solid as there is holes at LT and LG to be filled. Age could have an effect on this team’s defence as madden regression affects players 29 or over badly and with key defensive contributors Derrick Johnson 34, Tamba Hali 33, Ron Parker 30 already this may leave holes appearing in the defence quite quickly and with no first round draft pick it will be tough to replace them,
GRADE B-, Range 19-26
The Raider nation has a team on the rise, but is that rise to a superbowl or just Las Vegas. There is no doubting what Reggie McKenzie is putting together is a talented roster, they have drafted well and signed top tier free agents and this lead to their first playoff appearance since 2002,
PLAYER TO WATCH, QB Derek Carr, Derek Carr is one of the QBs in the NFL that is coming the top table after signing his new contract. With the addition of Marshawn Lynch to the backfield, Jared Cook at TE to join Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree in catching passes, with the oline that he has in front of him he will have time in the pocket to make his reads, he has the weapons around him to lead the waider nation to a playoff run this season and next, his pass accuracy would help ease any new comer into madden.
OVER RATED PLAYER, CORNERBACKS, It’s hard to pick a player on a stacked roster, but one is easy to spot with the Raiders and its cornerback Sean Smith, he is a good player, but for madden his speed his is weakness at his age, he will struggle in coverage against faster wrs in the AFC WEST, with madden regression he will drop off quickly so look to move on from him quickly, next up on the depth chart is David Amerson and rookie Gareon Conley both are solid cornerbacks to replace him,
WEAKNESS, DEFENSIVE LINE, defensive line is not the solid front one would expect with such a highly rated team, there will need to be draft picks or free agents acquired to bring the dline up to the required level to shut down opposition HBs and pressure the QB on a consistent basis,
WRAP UP, The Oakland Raiders are going to be a top pick and deservedly so(feel sick saying that), with the talent they have across the board, they have one big resigning season one in Khalil Mack, the weapons they have surrounded Derek Carr with in WRs Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Cordarrelle Patterson, TE Jared Cook and ageing HB Marshawn Lynch behind a solid Oline in need of upgrade at offensive tackle mind, defence the dline is not spectacular as one would expect, linebackers are good lead by Khalil Mack, Aldon Smith and Bruce Irvin, dbs have good young players that should develop nicely into a no fly zone under the correct coaching scheme,
GRADE B+, Range 6-12
The Broncos are a team capable of winning a super bowl for an experienced coach who isn’t afraid of a challenge, possible not the best team for a new comer to madden, they have the potential to end many playoff dreams for other teams,
PLAYER TO WATCH, OLB Von Miller, Von miller is the face of the Broncos and when he is on the field he is a one man wrecking machine as seen in super bowl 50, he has the ability to shut down his side of the field to any HB and can burst by blockers to force the QB into bad throws, he will be a key building block for any coach of the broncos looking to create a solid defence for 4 seasons,
OVER RATED PLAYER, CORNERBACK Aqib Talib, Aqib was one part of the no fly zone that brought the Broncos to super bowl 50, but two years on at 31 he will start to struggle against younger more agile wide receivers, his speed will regress as seasons advance in madden, but Aqib may prove to be a good safety as his zone coverage and tackling are his better traits, look to move him inside or possibly trade him for picks or players,
WEAKNESS, QUARTERBACK, QB is going to be the weakness of this team, do you opt for the steady hand of Trevor Siemian or the the spectacular but erratic Paxton Lynch, compared to the other QB situations in the AFC WEST this is easily the worst group, neither QB has shown the ability to have the consistency required to lead team on super bowl run, look to invest in the position by trading, free agency or by drafting,
WRAP UP, Two years removed from winning super bowl 50 the Broncos are a shadow of their former selves, some of the key players from then have moved on and those left are dropped off from the level they played at then, the oline needs improving at offensive tackle and guard to join the recently signed Leary and drafted Bolles, wr needs upgrading outside of Thomas and Sanders, defence is led by Von Miller, Shane Ray, Aqib Talib, Brandon Marshall, the core of the defence is still good, just depth needs improving to cover for injuries,
GRADE B-, Range 22-28
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are the team most see as dark horses for a playoff spot this year if they can put the injury curse of the past two seasons behind them and their ability to somehow to lose games they had won, they have a lot of great young players on the roster that could be the core for years to come in and this could be a team for a new comer to madden,
PLAYER TO WATCH, DE JOEY BOSA, Joey Bosa is the one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL, look for him to be in the running for sack leader for years to come, he’s a key building for the future of the franchises defence, his ability to disrupt the pocket QB as he progresses in his read and force the QB to throw the ball earlier then he would like into risky positions is second to none, his athletic ability to chase down QBs and HBs as they break down field is impressive,
OVER RATED PLAYER, FS DWIGHT LOWERY, Dwight Lowery is the weak link in an up and coming secondary in the NFL, at 31 his best years are passed him, with the added responsibility in 4-3 scheme this year his lack of speed and zone coverage could lead to a lot of blown coverages and big plays to the opposition, at least you have Tre Boston as an alternative to start, or you could look to develop Rayshawn Jenkins or move Desmond King in to FS from CB early on,
WEAKNESS, OLINE, Even after drafting Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney to play guard on either side of Centre Matt Slauson the Chargers Oline is still a weakness, with Joe Barksdale and Russell Okung playing offensive tackle it leaves a lot of room for improvement as they class as average at best as blockers, if drafting offensive tackles in madden 18 is the same as madden 17 expect to struggle in finding an improvement, which may be a problem considering you face Justin Houston, Khalil Mack and Von Miller six times a season.
WRAP UP, the Chargers have one of the best up and coming defences lead by an explosive pass rushing duo in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, the secondary consists of the top CB duo in the NFL of Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett and SS Jahleel hitman Addae, the linebackers are led by Denzel Perryman a hard hitting run stuffing old school linebacker, alongside him is last season’s fifth round draft sensation Jatavis Brown a speedster linebacker who can cover TEs and most slot receivers with his speed and his ability to get in the backfield is impressive for his size. Offence is led by Phillip THE GUNSLINGER Rivers, at 35 Rivers is the oldest QB in the division but still one of the best in the NFL, the ground game is led by HB Melvin Gordon after a tough rookie year he bounced back to show he is on the cusp of been a top five back, this is the best Receiving group in the NFL lead by Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Hunter Henry and the evergreen Antonio Gates, be wary with 11 million cap space number one cb Jason Verrett needs resigning season 1 and in season two cb Casey Hayward, mlb Denzel Perryman and HB Melvin Gordon and they could be expensive resignings
GRADE C+, RANGE 22-28,
That concludes the AFC West; thanks to Tripper for his write up. What are your thoughts do you think the Raiders are back in business and should be a top 5 pick? Or do you think the Broncos and Chiefs with their defenses are the teams to watch that will slip to the later rounds. Either way the AFC West is going to be a tight division with each team having the potential to be a contender. We will back with the remaining recaps for the NFC North and South to finish our previews.