AFC West still San Diego's to lose

Despite all the buzz on the upstart Chiefs, San Diego still has control of the division. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Adam Schefter often answers reader questions in his blog. Have a query of your own? Submit it right here.

Q: Do you see the San Diego Chargers still making the playoffs despite all their personnel issues? Or is that division, dare I say it, the Kansas City Chiefs' to lose?

-- Mikey (Lee's Summit, Mo.)

A: You've been breathing a little too much Missouri oxygen, Mikey. The Chiefs are on their way, but the AFC West, with all due respect, is San Diego's to lose. Nobody has been able to dethrone the Chargers in recent seasons. Plus the schedule is set up for San Diego to storm the division. The Chargers open the season Monday night at Kansas City, host Jacksonville, play at Seattle, host Arizona and then travel to Oakland and St. Louis. There's not a game in that bunch in which the Chargers will be underdogs.

Q: Ray Rice went No. 55 overall. Ryan Mathews went No. 12. Can Mathews get to the level Rice has in the same amount of time?

-- Kelly (Santa Monica, Calif.)

A: Kelly, the early reports on Mathews are glowing. All you really have to do is consider what happened on draft day. The Chargers, whose draft record is superb, traded up to get Mathews at No. 12. Had they not drafted him there, another team would have pounced on the running back very quickly. The fact that so many teams were so enamored with Mathews doesn't ensure stardom, but it provides a glimpse of how teams that judge talent well viewed him. If Mathews turns out to be what the Chargers believe he is, he definitely can get to Rice's level. But I guess we'll start seeing for real Monday night.

Q: What does turning Kansas City into New England West do for the Chiefs? Does it pose any type of threat [to] Todd Haley, in that, if it doesn't work out this season, they may bring someone else in with a similar mentality to Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis?

-- Edward (Boulder, Colo.)

A: Edward, any coach who doesn't win in this league for consecutive seasons has to feel threatened. But the Chiefs are not New England West. They're not thinking of changing coaches now -- they're focusing in on the Chargers game. That's it. Let's see how this coaching staff works together before trying to get rid of one of them. Haley brought them in to help him, not hurt him. You'd have to think they will help.

Q: Are the Baltimore Ravens still in the discussion of Best D in the NFL? Or have the New York Jets officially taken that distinction from them?

-- Jon (Roslyn, N.Y.)

A: Jon, there's no sense in anointing a best defense in the NFL before the Ravens and Jets play Monday night. It's fair to say those two teams are expected to be in the discussion. But other teams will be in it as well. New Orleans looked quick, strong and opportunistic on Thursday night. Minnesota looked strong, even without a couple of its regular cornerbacks. It's a long season. Let's wait a bit before awarding the best defense in the NFL.

Q: Which QB do you anticipate having the better career: Mark Sanchez or Joe Flacco? Both guys seemingly just have to manage games well to be successful (not unlike Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh), though at this point, I think Flacco's got way more weapons.

-- David (Philadelphia)

A: David, Sanchez's weapons are a bit more disguised. He has a tremendous run-blocking offensive line, and the Jets' offensive line coach, Bill Callahan, and running backs coach, Anthony Lynn, maximize the team's ground game. The situation is similar in Baltimore. It's hard to pick just one when Flacco has played two seasons and Sanchez only one. For now, I think Sanchez might have more long-term upside. But I will not be surprised one bit if Flacco has the better season.

Q: How do you see LaDainian Tomlinson contributing in New York this year? Is he the right kind of player for the Jets' offense, or have we seen the last of his days as even a valuable back up?

-- Devin (Oneonta, N.Y.)

A: Devin, anybody who watched LT this summer -- in practice or on "Hard Knocks" -- knows that he had much more bounce in his step than some people thought he would. He looked quick, elusive, shifty. He looked -- dare we say it -- a bit like the LT of old rather than an old LT. This doesn't mean he'll be able to sustain it for 16 games. But I will say the signs so far have been very encouraging. Somehow, LT will have to come to grips with sharing the workload with Shonn Greene, a young and very talented back. That will not be an easy adjustment for him, nor will it be easy to accept. But if LT can do that, the Jets will be better off.