1) San Diego Chargers – Much like the Seahawks in the NFC West, the Bolts are head and shoulders above the rest of the division on both sides of the ball. I don’t need to go over who’s on this team in terms of the big stars; but let’s say it will be interesting to see what a full season with both Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson at the wideout positions in order to pump up Philip Rivers’ stats. The stiff defense remains pretty much the same, and since Norv Turner got a team to the AFC championship game, I’m not sure I can mock him on that front any more, particularly when there was a good chance of him beating the Pats using a gimpy Rivers along with a combo of Michael Turner and Darren Sproles in the backfield. Obvious division winner.
2) Denver Broncos – I’m not even sure they should go this high. Pre-season games are known to lie and without Brandon Marshall for two or three games due to suspension, the receiving corps is particularly thin. Still waiting for the existence of a regular pass rush to emerge during the season, although it would be nice if the D-line makes it through the season unhurt. O-line is in a rebuilding year. I’ll believe Mike Shanahan’s promise that this team will make the playoffs when they actually do make the playoffs.
3) Oakland Raiders – This team may have too many running backs to go around, and they’re producing in pre-season, but you never know how that translates. If their offensive line keeps blocking, they’ll steal games and play spoiler for several teams, although I don’t believe any team paying Javon Walker that much money to be a #1 receiver will be landing a Wild Card. Honestly, depending on the first couple of games, they could be a good candidate to finish second if JaMarcus Russell is anything resembling efficient, because Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden should be good enough to get some yardage.
4) Kansas City Chiefrs – Trade away your best pass rusher, get an injury-prone defensive stud in the draft, and still stuck with Brodie Croyle as your quarterback. It’s hard for me to hate the Chiefs like I should as a good Broncos fan, because their fans are stuck with Carl Petersen and Herm Edwards still running the show badly.