Finally, we have some football. After a fantastic first week of college football, the professionals are gearing up to start their seasons. The New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, and Arizona Cardinals eye a Super Bowl title, while teams like the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, and Indianapolis Colts desperately try to stay relevant. There is a plethora of storylines before Week 1, so lets get right into it.
Will The Broncos Be Able To Compete With The AFC's Elite?
Even after losing Brock Osweiler (to the Houston Texans) and Peyton Manning (to retirement, thank God), the Broncos are still one of the better teams in the AFC. While it remains to be seen if last year's third stringer Trevor Siemian can lead this offense, the Broncos still have one of the elite defenses in the NFL. Nevertheless, the Broncos have lost some key pieces on defense, including middle linebacker Danny Trevathan and defensive tackle Malik Jackson. With Siemian's ability in question, look for running backs CJ Anderson and Devontae Booker to get some significant touches. Ultimately, I think the Broncos will be a decent team, but will not be able to keep up with the offenses of New England and Pittsburgh.
Can Alex Smith Lead The Chiefs' Offense In 2016?
Aside from the New England Patriots and MAYBE the Pittsburgh Steelers, the AFC is wide open for a sleeper team to propel themselves into the conversation. A team that I think could make some noise this season is the Kansas City Chiefs. Instead of signing big free agents, the Chiefs made it a point this offseason to lock up their own stars for the long haul. They were able to extend linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, while placing the franchise tag on safety Eric Berry. This season, the Chiefs will not have Doug Pederson as their offensive coordinator, which could mean Andy Reid will be more involved in play-calling duties. Even with Jamaal Charles' future in jeopardy, I think that Alex Smith will take the next step and help the Chiefs contend for a AFC West division title.
Will Oakland Take The Next Step And Be A Playoff Team?
Speaking of winning the AFC West title, enter the Oakland Raiders. While the Raiders are amid controversy of relocating, some of their key pieces are starting to enter their prime years in Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. Couple these two budding superstars with vocal veterans like Sean Smith and Michael Crabtree, and the Raiders are in serious business this year in the West. While the Raiders did rank 26th in passing defense last season, they have added some decent pieces that should help them get closer to the middle of the pack. They may not threaten for a Super Bowl appearance, but don't be surprised to see the Raiders in the playoffs this year.
Will Joey Bosa Be Too Big Of A Distraction For The Chargers?
Isn't it sad that the two biggest storylines around the Chargers right now is their draft pick not wanting to sign with them and their willingness to move to a new city? Look, I'm not a West Coast guy, but San Diego is a great city. Perfect weather, good military appreciation, and just a great place to live. Unfortunately, the Chargers are not going to be paying that much attention to the results of the 2016 season, which is a shame. Veterans Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates deserve more than what they are getting right now. Last season, the Chargers went 4-12, and I am not sure they made enough changes to threaten for a .500 record. Sad.