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Midterm Grades: AFC West

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While I have been scribbling down words for public perusal for almost a decade now, I spent the greater part of the previous ten years working with middle school kids. I tried to teach them not only the games of football and basketball, but also how to solve for unknown variables in the wonderful world of algebra.

Doling out performance-based judgment in an alphabetical and percentile form is comfortable for me. But this can’t be completely objective or just subjective. I need my eyes and the statistics to join up. With a shout-out to the quadratic equation, I developed my own algorithm.

Part current record, part team health, part remaining schedule and part trending play. But not equal parts. 4 wins is .500; it’s average—a 70 percent, or a C. The other three areas of grade are worth a possible five additional points. Meaning if an average team at 4-4 was a 70, but had complete health (+5), a cakewalk schedule (+5) and have actually won their last four in a row (+5), it could at best, become an 85, or solid B. You will catch on.

Report card time!

DENVER BRONCOS: 92 percent A-

At 5-3, this is a B-squad, an 80 percent, but the Broncos score well in the other three departments. Before losing Chris Kuper—again—to injury (out 2-4 weeks with high ankle sprain), this team was practicing at full strength. Captain Kuper is the anchor of the offensive line that protects Peyton Manning, he’s a singular one-point deduction, he’s that important. The Broncos still get a +4 for health. The identical score schedule-wise seems fair for a team that has already faced Houston, Pittsburgh, New England, Atlanta, New Orleans, San Diego and Cincinnati. If any team has a schedule that “opens up,” it has to be Denver; again +4. Trending play also scores high for Denver coming in with a 3-game winning streak, including two road wins and an impressive win over the Saints. +4. (80%+4+4+4=92%)

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: 77 percent C+

This .500 team starts with a 70 percent, but really struggle in the outside areas. While very dinged up for much of the early season, this team is actually pretty healthy so I will add three points. The Chargers finish the season with Oakland, Carolina and the New York Jets but they could easily lose their next five games having to face Denver, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati—they get +2 for their remaining schedule. The home blowout win over Kansas City is the saving grace for the Bolts in the trending play department. They had lost their previous three games including that demoralizing debacle on Monday Night against the Broncos and a 7-6 loss in Cleveland. Want to give them nothing, but an eighteen-point win in division can’t be ignored, another two points. (70%+3+2+2=77%)

OAKLAND RAIDERS: 68 percent D+

With just three wins at the midway mark, the Raiders are a disappointment in this observer’s eyes. The existing record starts them at a 60 percent. The Silver and Black are actually pretty dinged up right about now with T Khalif Barnes and CB Shawntae Spencer already out. It looks like RB Darren McFadden will bounce back and be a go this weekend, but defensive lineman Richard Seymour is a question mark—only two points available in the health department. The Raiders have a pretty workable schedule left with one game each left in division, in addition to still having Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland from the AFC North—three points here. Despite losing by ten points last week to Tampa Bay, the Raiders have been playing some pretty good football lately. They played unbeaten Atlanta to a three-point game at the Georgia Dome, beat Jacksonville and Kansas City before their defense imploded against Doug Martin and the Bucs. Three more points for their past month of play. (60%+2+3+3=68%)

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: 53 percent F

This team can just assume that in addition to attending summer school, they will be repeating the fifth grade. They haven’t led during one regulation minute yet this year and with only one win, a dinged up team and a fractured front office (and fan base) the Chiefs are a lost cause. They have several nagging injuries across the board, including no Brady Quinn or Glenn Dorsey—and Stanford Routt was waived. Two points for health is all I can muster up. Their schedule is much like Oakland and San Diego, except they still have to play Peyton and the Broncos twice, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Give ‘em one point here. But, five straight losses equals “you’ll get nothing and like it.” (50%+1+2+0=53%)

Cub Buenning is TDdaily’s AFC West blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @cubbuenning.