The Broncos are rolling with Trevor Siemian as their starting quarterback despite the fact that he’s never thrown a pass in an NFL regular-season game. It still shouldn’t be a significant drop-off from the play of Peyton Manning in the final months of his career.
Siemian still has Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to throw to, and he’ll probably have decent field position on most every possession thanks to the defense.
That defense, anchored by Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller, can be the best in football again. Demarcus Ware is back for more and, once the secondary gets Aqib Talib back, the defense should be just as great as last season.
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Just like in the Super Bowl, the offense doesn’t have to score points to win the game. The defense can create just as many.
Best player ever: 7 John Elway
This feels like a breakthrough season for the Raiders. They finally have a good, young quarterback in Derek Carr and a good, young receiver in Amari Cooper. Oakland hasn’t had a winning season since the Super Bowl year of 2002, and that was nine head coaches ago.
The Raiders finished 7-9 last year with some up-and-down play. They spent their first two draft picks on the defense, getting safety Karl Joseph and tackle Jihad Ward to go along with Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith at linebacker.
Former N.C. State standout David Amerson has finally emerged after a few down years in Washington, and Oakland might put it all together this year under Jack Del Rio.
Best player ever: 63 Gene Upshaw
It has to be tough to be a Chargers fan. The flirting with Los Angeles. The wasted great years of Philip Rivers. Not being able to sign top-three pick Joey Bosa until two weeks before the start of the season.
This year probably won’t make it better for Chargers fans. After going 4-12 last season, there’s little hope for improvement. Jason Verrett is a good, young cornerback, and the Chargers added nickel Casey Hayward and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.
The offense got Travis Benjamin to catch Rivers’ passes, but how much can he do to deliver the Chargers (ranked 26th in offense last season) out of the division cellar?
Best player ever: 21 LaDainian Tomlinson
Coach Andy Reid is looking to take the Chiefs to the playoffs for the third time in his four seasons, and there’s no reason he can’t get it done.
The defense is the soul of the team. Safety Eric Berry has come back from cancer and signed his franchise tag a week before the start of the season. Cornerback Marcus Peters was the best defensive rookie last year. Dontari Poe is a great nose tackle and Derrick Johnson will tackle anyone at linebacker.
Quarterback Alex Smith will dink-and-dunk his way down the field, but at least his mistakes are few. He has completed 64 percent of his passes with the Chiefs and he’s never thrown more than seven interceptions in a season since joining Kansas City.
Best player ever: 58 Derrick Thomas