September 2, 2013 in Sports

2013 NFL Preview: AFC West

 

Denver Broncos

NEW FACES

WR Wes Welker, RG Louis Vasquez, RB Montee Ball, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DT Sylvester Williams, OLB/DE Shaun Phillips.

KEY LOSSES

DE Elvis Dumervil, RB Willis McGahee.

STRENGTHS

QB, CB, WR.

WEAKNESSES

OL, RB, LB.

EXPECTATIONS

Von Miller started buzz February when he guaranteed Super Bowl title. Then he got suspended for first six games for violating NFL’s drug-abuse policy. Broncos let Dumervil get away in free agency. Those two accounted for 291/2 of Denver’s league-leading 52 sacks last season. How Broncos make up for that will go long way toward determining if they’re going to meet Super Bowl expectations. Peyton Manning looks stronger and more comfortable in Year 2 and said losing to Ravens in playoffs will push team.

San Diego Chargers

NEW FACES

LT King Dunlap, LT Max Starks, OLB Dwight Freeney, ILB Manti Te’o, RT D.J. Fluker, RB Danny Woodhead.

KEY LOSSES

CB Quentin Jammer, OLB Shaun Phillips, RG Louis Vasquez, LB Takeo Spikes, SS Atari Bigby, DT Antonio Garay, TE Randy McMichael, DE Vaughn Martin, CB Antoine Cason.

STRENGTHS

QB, TE, FS, OLB, RB.

WEAKNESSES

OL, CB, WR, special teams.

EXPECTATIONS

Up to rookie coach Mike McCoy and rookie general manager Tom Telesco to rebuild team that could miss playoffs for fourth straight season. Quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Ryan Mathews looking to rebound from disappointing seasons behind offensive line that remains suspect at best. Telesco jettisoned veteran depth in defensive front seven in offseason, but one of his acquisitions, pass rusher Dwight Freeney, has looked good in exhibition games.

Oakland Raiders

NEW FACES

QB Matt Flynn, DB Charles Woodson, CB Tracy Porter, CB Mike Jenkins, CB D.J. Hayden, LB Nick Roach, LB Kevin Burnett, LB Sio Moore, DT Pat Sims, DT Vance Walker, LT Alex Barron, WR Bryce Butler.

KEY LOSSES

QB Carson Palmer, DT Richard Seymour, DT Tommy Kelly, DT Desmond Bryant, LB Rolando McClain, DB Michael Huff, P Shane Lechler.

STRENGTHS

K, DBs.

WEAKNESSES

OL, DL, QB, TE.

EXPECTATIONS

With about 40 percent of salary cap tied up in “dead money” to players no longer in Oakland, Raiders still clearly in rebuilding mode in Year 2 under GM Reggie McKenzie, coach Dennis Allen. Team appears more likely to contend for No. 1 pick in draft than playoff spot. Big questions at quarterback, where Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor are fighting for starting job.

Kansas City Chiefs

NEW FACES

QB Alex Smith, CB Dunta Robinson, CB Sean Smith, LB Akeem Jordan, TE Anthony Fasano, RT Eric Fisher, OL Geoff Schwartz, WR Donnie Avery, coach Andy Reid.

KEY LOSSES

G/C Ryan Lilja.

STRENGTHS

RB, LB, CB.

WEAKNESSES

WR, OL, DL.

EXPECTATIONS

Chiefs watched from afar last season as Colts upgraded at QB and went from two wins to playoffs. Now, they’ll try to follow example. Trade for Alex Smith gives KC stability at marquee position for first time in years. New coach Andy Reid and GM John Dorsey, formerly of Packers, know how to win. Upgrades in defensive backfield should shore up porous pass defense while freeing up three Pro Bowl LBs in Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Playoff team? Chiefs seem to think so. Many others do, too.

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