Why Chiefs will win AFC West

Peyton Hillis and Jamaal Charles provide Kansas City with a strong rushing attack. Denny Medley/US Presswire

After a tumultuous 2011 in which they saw several of their star players end the season on IR (Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel, Tony Moeaki, Eric Berry), the Kansas City Chiefs are entering 2012 healthy. And with Dwayne Bowe now signed, they have a multitude of weapons on offense and a strong defense.

The AFC West has improved significantly with the addition of Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer having a full offseason of work in Oakland and a Chargers roster that got better this offseason. Still, I believe the Chiefs will come out on top at season's end.

Here are four reasons why:

Improved health

Predicting injuries is impossible, but the Chiefs almost have to be healthier in 2012 than they were in 2011. Kansas City based its entire team philosophy around these excellent young players, and they were all injured in 2011. Cassel broke his hand in Week 10. Prior to that, the Chiefs lost Tony Moeaki, Charles and Berry for more or less the entire season.
Is Cassel in the same class as Manning or Philip Rivers? No, in fact, if I were to rank the quarterbacks in the AFC West, Cassel would most likely be fourth. But he isn't the type of quarterback that will derail his team with poor decisions and turnovers. Cassel's floor is quite high. If Cassel gets injured, there is little behind him on the depth chart at QB. But judging by early preseason action, Moeaki, Charles, Berry and Cassel should all be back to form for the regular season. That is huge for Kansas City's chances.

A terrific offseason