Signing T.J. Houshmandzadeh Makes the Oakland Raiders a Playoff Contender

No team improved more this offseason than the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders completely overhauled their linebacking corps, added two defensive linemen, two offensive linemen, and added some much needed depth to their secondary.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that they released the disaster who wore No. 2 and traded for Jason Campbell? Despite the upgrades made by the Raiders, few are ready to call them a playoff contender. 

Saturday's NFL cut deadline provided the Raiders an opportunity to end all debate over whether or not they are ready to compete for the AFC West. If the Oakland Raiders are able to sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh, it would be difficult if not impossible to argue that the Raiders would not be in contention for their first AFC West crown since they went to the Super Bowl in 2002.

Besides the NFC West, the AFC West is probably the weakest division in the NFL.

The Kansas City Chiefs had a good of-season but they still have a long way to go before they are able to compete for the AFC West crown.

The Denver Broncos had a terrible offseason and took a huge step backwards. A year after the Broncos got rid of a Super Bowl-winning coach and a Pro Bowl quarterback, they dispensed of a top-five NFL receiver and one of their more dangerous receiving threats in Tony Scheffler.

Add to that the fact that the Broncos traded away a number of their draft picks in order to draft a quarterback who will not start for at least a couple of seasons, and you have a recipe to dwell in the lower half of the AFC West.

That leaves the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have won the AFC West four years in a row, but are not the same team they were in the past. Despite Josh McDaniels' proclivity for chasing away top talent, the Chargers might have been the team to have suffered the biggest losses this offseason.

Wide receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeill are looking like they will not ...

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