AFC West Preview

Peyton Manning led the Broncos to 13 wins and the home field in the AFC last season. He had a great season for the Broncos but came up short in the playoffs.

Denver Broncos

It was a very successful 2012 for the Broncos, but the end result left a bad taste in their mouth. The offense was explosive last season and will even better this year with the addition of Wes Welker. On the ground they have Ronnie Hillman and second round pick Monte Ball who will split carries until one breaks out. Manning will be protected by one of the best tackles in the game in Ryan Clady, who just got a nice extension in the off season. On defense, Derek Wolfe is a handful up front and Von Miller is a force in the middle, but will miss the first 6 games of the season due to a suspension. The secondary is getting a bit older with Champ Bailey at corner and Mike Adams at safety, but they added some youth with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Rahim Moore. Denver is clearly the best in the West and should be playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Scott Boutcher

The Broncos already have Thomas and Decker, but Welker should make their receiving corps one of the best in football.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Andy Reid era is underway in Kansas City. While they might not be the team to beat in the AFC West at this time they certainly should begin to improve as a franchise. Despite criticism in Philadelphia he was responsible for stabilizing a franchise which evolved into a consistent playoff contender despite not winning a Championship. The Chiefs are coming of a dreadful 2-14 season. Its likely the improve significantly from that win total. Alex Smith takes over the reigns at Quarterback. A healthy Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe will be key for the Kansas City offensive attack as they remainder of the offense is a bit of a work in progress. The defensive side of the ball should benefit from Eric Berry being back to full strength after 1 full year of recovery from a serious knee injury. The Chiefs certainly appear to be a franchise moving in the right direction. Perhaps their Super Bowl will take place when Andy Reid heads back to Philly this November. Mike Orzechowski

Alex Smith has a new team and new coach in Kansas City, but unlike San Francisco he doesnt have anyone looking over his shoulder.

Oakland Raiders

Unproven QB Matt Flynn has been handed the keys to the Raiders offense after the failed Carson Palmer experiment.  But the important player for the Raiders is RB Darren McFadden who when healthy can be a difference maker.  Charles Woodson returns to boost a defense that struggled last season and was significant factor in the Raiders finishing 4-12 last season.  This unit will need to improve in order for the team to contend. Glenn Coyle

Darren McFadden needs to stay healthy because it is a contract year for him in Oakland.

San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers are one of those teams where you really don’t know what to make of them. They have finally gotten rid of the underachieving Norv Turner and replaced him with Denver Broncos offensive coordinator from 2010-2012 in Mike McCoy. Philip Rivers is a good quarterback but there is just not enough weapons around him anymore like there used to be. Wide receiver Danario Alexander tore his ACL in practice earlier this preseason and will miss the entire season. So they’re going to need their other guys such as Malcom Floyd and Robert Meachem to step up. They also need Ryan Matthews to have an impact. He doesn’t need to be LaDainian, but it’s safe to say Matthews hasn’t really worked out so far because of his injuries and struggles. Antonio Gates is another player who is getting up there in age and at some point his production should start dropping off too, and he is another player who has had his fair share of injuries. I’m intrigued by what California receiver Keenan Allen has to offer and could see him quickly becoming Rivers go to guy. San Diego’s big problem is really at the receivers position. They just are pretty thin in that area and have injuries to worry about and I don’t expect Matthews to be that great to take some of the pressure off the receivers. On defense, they picked up Dwight Freeney, Derek Cox and Manti Teo, to help their defense who let up more than 27 points in 6 of their 9 losses last year. McCoy did a great job with Denver over the past couple seasons and he should help the Chargers out but it will take some time. This looks like a rebuilding year in San Diego. Dan Sohler

Chargers fans will be happy to see a new face at head coach and that man is Mike McCoy.

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