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The Broncos won Super Bowl 50 on the back of their defense, and many of their defensive starters from last season are returning, including Super Bowl 50 MVP linebacker Von Miller, defensive end DeMarcus Ware, and pretty much everyone from their secondary, including star cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. Peyton Manning, the Broncos’ quarterback since the 2012 season, retired this past offseason, and although he is one of the greatest if not the greatest quarterback of all time, his touchdown to interception ratio was just slightly better than 1:2 last season, which is a really awful mark. For the Broncos this season, even with having to start either Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian, or Paxton Lynch at the quarterback position, their passing situation will still most likely be an upgrade over the play we saw from Manning last year. Add to that the fact that the Broncos have one of the if not the league’s best 1-2 wide receiver combination in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, as well as a solid running back in CJ Anderson, so being a contender to win the Super Bowl yet again this season is a scenario that will most likely occur for the Broncos.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have one of the NFL’s toughest defenses to play against, with linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, cornerback Marcus Peters, and safety Eric Berry headlining it. Also, the Chiefs’ offense showed some real firepower last season as well. Quarterback Alex Smith, who did not throw a single touchdown to a wide receiver during the 2014 season, was able to utilize his weapons, primarily tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, to the best of his ability with star running back Jamaal Charles sidelined for much of the season due to a torn ACL. Much of the success that the Chiefs had with Charles out can be attributed to the fact that running backs Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware stepped in and did a great job replacing him. Even with Charles out, the Chiefs proved that their offense is no joke and they showed how scary a team with a great offense and one of the league’s top defenses can be down the stretch, winning 10 straight games. If everyone can stay healthy this year, this season’s Chiefs team could be even scarier than last year’s and will definitely challenge to represent the AFC in Houston for the Super Bowl come February.
The Raiders look like a team that could turn things around big time. With the Derek Carr to Amari Cooper connection looking like the next big thing in terms of NFL quarterback to wide receiver hookups, and with both players already having fantastic starts to their young careers, look for them along with young running back Latavius Murray, who should do better this season running behind former Baltimore Ravens right guard Kelechi Osemele, to make Oakland’s offense really, really good this season. The Raiders’ defense has also improved this offseason with the addition of linebacker Bruce Irvin, who played for the Seattle Seahawks last season, safety Reggie Nelson, who led the league in interceptions last season playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, and safety Karl Joseph, who was selected in the first round of this year’s NFL draft. This vastly improved Raiders team should not only be able to challenge to win their first division title since 2002, but to win Super Bowl LI.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers had a rough season last year, but don’t let that fool you. Philip Rivers is still one of the most underrated quarterbacks of all time, and he puts up fantastic numbers each season to prove it, regardless of how well the Chargers do. When wide receiver Keenan Allen was healthy last season, he was absolutely unstoppable and was a pass catching machine, so expect more of the same this season. The Chargers have also added wide receiver Travis Benjamin to complement Allen as the Chargers clear number 2 wide receiver, which should keep the defenses guessing. If Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead can provide a solid 1-2 running back punch this season, unlike last season when Gordon was hurt, look for this offense to be one of the league’s best. The Chargers’ defense has some holes, though, especially with safety Eric Weddle heading to Baltimore, but the draft pick of defensive end Joey Bosa will help out a lot. The Chargers are another one of those teams that has a great chance of being a solid all-around team, and that makes them a threat to bring home the Lombardi Trophy next February.
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