1. Denver Broncos
With a shored up defense Denver is ready for another trip to the Super Bowl.
2. San Diego Chargers
After a rough start they clinched a playoff spot and look to build on that this year.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
They’re a solid team with Jamaal Charles and a great defense.
4. Oakland Raiders
With all that cap space they made some solid moves, but this division won’t be kind to them.
Head Coach: John Fox
Key Position: Defense – It is a cliche but you need to have a defense to win championships. Denver learned that the hard way in last years Super Bowl. However, this years unit should be much better with a healthy Von Miller, new pass rusher DeMarcus Ware and two new defensive backs Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward. Those four alone should change the mentality of the defense and bring some new life to a team that is still a favorite to repeat as AFC Champions.
Key Acquisitions: WR Emmanuel Sanders (Pittsburgh Steelers), CB Aqib Talib (New England Patriots), S T.J. Ward (Cleveland Browns), DE DeMarcus Ware (Dallas Cowboys)
Key Rookies: CB Bradley Roby, WR Cody Latimer
Head Coach: Mike McCoy
Key Position: Defensive Backs – When you play in a division with the likes of Peyton Manning you have to shore up the corners and safeties on your roster. Drafting Jason Verrett was the right move and an even better one was signing Brandon Flowers after his release from Kansas City. Those two bring much needed depth to a secondary that will help the front seven put pressure on the quarterback more frequently.
Key Acquisitions: RB Donald Brown (Indianapolis Colts), QB Kellen Clemens (St. Louis Rams), LB Kavell Conner (Indianapolis Colts), CB Brandon Flowers (Kansas City Chiefs)
Key Rookies: CB Jason Verrett, LB Jerry Attaochu, G Chris Watt
Head Coach: Andy Reid
Key Position: Wide Receiver – It was a curious offseason for the Chiefs as they didn’t draft or sign a notable receiver in the offseason. They’ll continue with Dwayne Bowe as the top wideout and hope that someone has a breakout season playing opposite Bowe. Jamaal Charles is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, but he can’t be counted on to catch 70+ passes again with the wear and tear his body is surely taking. TE Travis Kelce might be the breakout candidate whose rookie season was cut short with a knee injury.
Key Acquisitions: LB Joe Mays (Houston Texans), DL Vance Walker (Oakland Raiders)
Key Rookies: DE Dee Ford, CB Phillip Gaines, RB De’Anthony Thomas
Head Coach: Dennis Allen
Key Position: Every Single One – From the quarterback right down to the kicker. There are some spots that are solid like the linebacking corps and running backs, but most of every other position needed some help. The Raiders did a good job filling in spots with some solid veterans, but letting their starting left tackle Jared Veldheer and best pass rusher in Lamarr Houston go were huge mistakes. The late Al Davis’ patience would have run out about now, but his son Mark Davis has a long-term plan that involves a lot of patience.
Key Acquisitions: OL Kevin Boothe (New York Giants), CB Tarell Brown (San Francisco 49ers), OL Austin Howard (New York Jets), RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars), WR James Jones (Green Bay Packers), WR Greg Little (Cleveland Browns), T Donald Penn (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), CB Carlos Rogers (San Francisco 49ers), QB Matt Schaub (Houston Texans), DL Antonio Smith (Houston Texans), DE Justin Tuck (New York Giants), DE LaMarr Woodley (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Key Rookies: LB Khalil Mack, QB Derek Carr, G Gabe Jackson