Sal Paolantonio: The Chiefs Will Win the AFC West in 2015

The ESPN reporter is ready to call the AFC West for Kansas City

There are more than six months between now and the beginning of the regular season, but on Wednesday, ESPN's Sal Paolantonio already had a bold prediction to make.

"I think it will be a down year for the Denver Broncos," he explained. "I think the Chiefs are going to win the division."

Paolantonio, who before ESPN began his journalism career writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, also expressed his high esteem for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.

"I like Alex Smith a lot," he said. "I think he does so many things so well. I think he's athletic. I think he's smart. I think he's very accurate with the football. I think he's in the right system with the right coach."

Alex Smith's 2014 highlights.

That "right coach" Paolantonio referred to is of course Andy Reid. Together over the past two regular seasons, Smith and Reid compiled a 19-11 record and were responsible for the Chiefs' greatest single-season turnaround in franchise history in 2013.

"Andy Reid is a quarterback whisperer. I covered him for his entire career in Philadelphia," Paolantonio said. "He's one of the best guys I've ever seen around the quarterback position and just making them calm down in the maelstrom of playing the position at the NFL level.

"Whether it's on the field or off the field, I think that Andy Reid is one of the best in the last generation to be able to do that."

Reid's West Coast offense, which tends to favor passing the ball over running it, led to many winning seasons with Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia and has already led to two in a row with Alex Smith in Kansas City.

As far as what he sees the Chiefs addressing in the draft, Paolantonio pointed to the secondary and deeper depth on the offensive line as needs.

"I would be shocked if Andy Reid did not pick an offensive lineman high up in this draft," he said. "You look at Andy Reid at who he's picked at offensive lineman throughout the years. He likes big guys who are also athletic.

"He likes nasty guys like Jon Runyan, so he likes guys of all shapes and sizes who can help him."

While which name Reid and Chiefs general manager John Dorsey eventually do call first on April 30 remains to be seen, Paolantio was confident in his very early prediction on Wednesday.

"[The Chiefs] are going to win the division. Mark it down."

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