1. Denver Broncos- After a heartbreaking loss to Baltimore in the postseason, the Broncos entered the 2013 season as the favorites to win the AFC. It was the second season with Peyton under center and he put together a season to remember. 55 touchdown passes in one season and the Broncos offense became the highest scoring offense in NFL history setting numerous records in the process. Peyton would win his fifth league MVP award and the Broncos were the one seed in the AFC for the second straight season. The Super Bowl though was another story. An offense that averaged 38 points a game was held to 8 point on the biggest stage. Denver made key signings this off-season. They signed Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward to help out that secondary, DeMarcus Ware and they signed receiver Emmanuel Sanders. This could be a make or break year for Denver. Can Peyton get them back to the big game?
2. Kansas City Chiefs- They were the biggest surprise in the NFL last season. 2012, they won two games only. You bring Andy Reid into the mix along with Alex Smith and the Chiefs started 9-0 for the first time in ten seasons. After the hot start, they cooled down losing two big games to Denver, twice to San Diego and once to the Colts who would eventually go on to beat them in the playoffs. Jamaal Charles has become the key guy on this offense. He doesn’t have top-notch speed but he can get by people and he’s able to catch the ball out the backfield. The defense was the talk of the league last season. Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali were great pass rushers off the edge and Dontari Poe was a nice piece in the middle. I think everybody is anxious to see what type of start this Chiefs team will get off too.
3. San Diego Chargers- Just like Kansas City, this was a team that not too many people expected much out of. Rivers had a bounce back season and won comeback player of the year, Ryan Mathews finally looked like the guy we hyped up so much and Keenan Allen had a great year and has a very bright future ahead of him. The biggest difference with the Chargers last season was their offensive line. They did a much better job of protecting Rivers and gave him plenty of time to throw the football. They will give Denver a run for their money in the division like they always have.
4. Oakland Raiders- They have a lot of talent, just no mental toughness. They’ll have the lead in many games but always seem to lose it late in the fourth quarter. They’ve had many questions at the quarterback position. Matt Schaub was acquired from Houston and he brings them that veteran experience and they also drafter Derek Carr from Fresno State. With their first pick in the draft, Oakland selected Khalil Mack, the linebacker from Buffalo and I’ve been extremely high on him. He’s a great pass rusher and they needed him after losing LaMarr Houston to Chicago. I still think the Raiders are a few seasons away from getting back to the top of this division.
1. Broncos (13-3)
2. Chargers (10-6)
3. Chiefs (9-7)
4. Raiders (5-11)
For the fourth straight season, I like Denver to win the AFC West. Peyton and the passing game will take care of business. Welker, the Thomas boys and Sanders will all handle their own. I don’t think Peyton will throw 55 touchdown passes again but this offense will score it’s points. Moreno isn’t there anymore so can Montee Ball be that guy in the running game for the Broncos? The defense improved greatly on paper but they still have to get it done on the field. That is what will make or break this team. Can Von stay healthy?