1. Denver Broncos
Even with a new coaching staff the roster is still stacked for one last Super Bowl run.
2. San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers has a legitimate running back to ease the burden on offense.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
When will the offense finally give their defense a break?
4. Oakland Raiders
Another offseason of adding key pieces has Oakland looking to get to a .500 record.
Head Coach: Gary Kubiak (Baltimore Ravens)
Key Position: Quarterback
It’s not a position of concern, but what happens if Peyton Manning does get hurt? This will probably be his last season, but no one knows for sure. Does Denver have an idea of what to do when it’s time for Peyton to move on? That will be interesting to see as this season plays out with a new offense that should rely more on the run than Manning throwing for 4,500 yards.
Key Acquisitions: TE James Casey (Philadelphia Eagles), TE Owen Daniels (Baltimore Ravens), G Evan Mathis (Philadelphia Eagles), DE Antonio Smith (Oakland Raiders), S Darian Stewart (Baltimore Ravens), G Shelley Smith (Miami Dolphins)
Key Rookies: LB Shane Ray, T Ty Sambrailo
Head Coach: Mike McCoy
Key Position: Running Back
Ryan Matthews is gone. Branden Oliver, Danny Woodhead and Donal Brown are not equipped to carry the load, but are better in spurts. San Diego had to get a running back in the draft. Melvin Gordon was that guy who could become a stellar every down back in the league. Time will tell how he does on third downs, but for now he is the top back.
Key Acquisitions: G Orlando Franklin (Denver Broncos), WR Steve Johnson (San Francisco 49ers), WR Jacoby Jones (Baltimore Ravens), S Jimmy Wilson (Miami Dolphins)
Key Rookies: RB Melvin Gordon, Denzel Perryman
Head Coach: Andy Reid
Key Position: Quarterback
Alex Smith’s touchdown to interception ratio is great, but when will he shed the title of being a ‘game manager’ off his shoulders? He is better than that. He has a top tier tight end in Travis Kelce and a new target in Jeremy Maclin who is coming off a career year in Philadelphia. The reigns need to be taken off and let the chips fall where they may.
Key Acquisitions: S Tyvon Branch (Oakland Raiders), G Paul Fanaika (Arizona Cardinals), G Ben Grubbs (New Orleans Saints), WR Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia Eagles)
Key Rookies: CB Marcus Peters, G Mitch Morse, WR Chris Conley, CB Steven Nelson
Head Coach: Jack Del Rio (Denver Broncos)
Key Position: Defensive Line
This will be an interesting year for the Raiders who have a chance to make some noise in the AFC. They’ll have to start by winning the trench fight. Particularly on defense. Justin Tuck is a solid veteran and signing Dan Williams will help slow down the opponents running game. What becomes of the likes of Justin Ellis and rookie Mario Edwards Jr. will be fascinating to watch.
Key Acquisitions: S Nate Allen (Philadelphia Eagles), WR Michael Crabtree (San Francisco 49ers), RB Roy Helu (Washington Redskins), C Rodney Hudson (Kansas City Chiefs), LB Curtis Lofton (New Orleans Saints), TE Lee Smith (Buffalo Bills), DT Dan Williams (Arizona Cardinals)
Key Rookies: WR Amari Cooper, DE Mario Edwards Jr., TE Clive Walford