DENVER BRONCOS

Last year: 13-3, 1st place

Outlook: The only burning question surrounding the Broncos is whether they can bounce back from a gaffe by safety Rahim Moore that allowed the Baltimore Ravens to tie their playoff game last season, which the Ravens eventually won en route to their Super Bowl victory. After all, there are only so many more chances for a Broncos team so reliant upon 37-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning and aging cornerback Champ Bailey. Winning the Super Bowl this season won't be easy. Star linebacker Von Miller is suspended for the first six games, starting center Dan Koppen is out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and someone needs to fill the void created by the loss of pass-rushing stud Elvis Dumervil to the Ravens. The addition of wide receiver Wes Welker gives Manning another reliable option in the passing game. Jack Del Rio is back for a second season, the first time the Broncos have the same defensive coordinator in eight seasons.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Last year: 7-9, 2nd place

Outlook: The Norv Turner Era finally ended after six disappointing seasons. Some wonder how much longer the Chargers can go with Philip Rivers as their starting quarterback. He no longer is considered in the top tier, and for good reason. He committed 47 turnovers the past two seasons and failed to shine in many big-time games. First-year head coach Mike McCoy has a long track record of working wonders with quarterbacks, though, so there's hope for Rivers regaining his old form. There's also reason to believe that running back Ryan Mathews is on the verge of a breakout season. Perhaps most important, tight end Antonio Gates is in top shape and eager to show that he isn't past his prime. Defensively, the Chargers gutted their front seven and turned to a mixture of veterans — Dwight Freeney — and youth — Manti Te'o. As the Raiders found out last season, it's difficult getting things to come together right away with a new coach, new general manager and a slew of new faces.


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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Last year: 2-14, 4th place

Outlook: The Chiefs also feature a new general manager (John Dorsey) and head coach (Andy Reid), as well as a new quarterback in Alex Smith. Even so, it's not a stretch to envision the Chiefs pushing the Broncos for the division title. This isn't your ordinary two-win team. The Chiefs sent six players to the Pro Bowl last season, and all six are back. In addition, they added offensive tackle Eric Fisher with the second pick in the NFL draft and cornerback Dunta Robinson and tight end Anthony Fasano via free agency. Reid once again is adored by fans and free of a never-ending quarterback controversy, unlike his final two years in Philadelphia. There's still plenty of work to do for the Chiefs. However, most of the key pieces already are in place, which should expedite the process. If you're looking for a team that can make the quantum leap from two wins to the playoffs, as the Colts did last season, the Chiefs are the logical candidate.