AFC West: Contenders or Pretenders
Denver Broncos: Contenders – With the Broncos coming off a successful season last year, the expectation is even greater especially with Peyton Manning at QB. The Broncos success will mainly depend on the health of Manning. Judging from the first preseason performance, the Broncos should be just fine. They will definitely need the same contribution from the defensive unit as they had a year ago. Elvis Dumerville and Von Miller will be huge on that side of the ball.
San Diego Chargers: Contenders – With the Chargers, I was on the fence whether this team is a contender or not because once you think that they are going to take that next step, they often disappoint you. What makes them a contender is Phillip Rivers at QB and having a healthy Antonio Gates as the main target. This is a big make it or break it year for RB Ryan Matthew which has already started not so good with him being injured early in camp.
Kansas City Chiefs: Contenders – It is hard to imagine that there are three teams that are contenders in this division but the Chiefs could be the most talented team in this division. The Chiefs had a down year last year because they hit the injury bug. With everyone healthy and Matt Cassel being comfortable in the offense, this team can go places. It will be important that the Chiefs get production out of their rookie Dontari Poe.
Oakland Raiders: Pretenders – Even though they have a stub back in McFadden, it is tough to see the Raiders be a contender this season. They are facing some tough times with the salary cap which resulted in the team to cut many players on their defense. Carson Palmer should have a bounce back year but that will not be enough to contend with the three teams in the division.