San Diego appears to be the no-brainer pick for the AFC West in 2010, but do not expect the Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs to roll out the red carpet for the Chargers.
The face of the AFC West has completely changed from a year ago, when the Denver Broncos really gave the San Diego Chargers a run for their money before falling flat and failing to make the postseason after starting off at 6-0.
Check out how we're breaking down the four teams out West and how they stack up against the NFL betting lines.
San Diego Chargers (-333 Odds to win AFC West at Bodog Sportsbook)
For the first time in quite awhile, RB LaDainian Tomlinson won't be the man that is carrying the rock for the Chargers. Instead, it appears as though rookie RB Ryan Mathews is going to be the one that is tabbed with the duties of replacing one of the greatest running backs that this game has ever seen.
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Defensive back Antonio Cromartie has also moved on, as he is now a member of the New York Jets. That's awful news for a defense that only ranked 16th last season, allowing 327.0 yards per game.
As long as QB Philip Rivers is slinging the ball all over the football field though, there's no reason to think that the Bolts aren't the class of this division. He threw for 4,254 yards last year to go with 28 touchdowns and has become a proven winner for San Diego.
Denver Broncos (+600 Odds to win AFC West at Bodog Sportsbook)
Even though he is only in his second year as a head coach in the NFL, Josh McDaniels has to be considered a coach on the hot seat in 2009. He was the one that probably ultimately pulled the trigger on the selection of QB Tim Tebow in the first round of the NFL Draft this year, and it appears as though McDaniels is ready to essentially go to bed with his project pick. There is talk that Tebow is going to be the starting quarterback for Denver from the very start of the 2010 season.
No matter whether it is Tebow or incumbent QB Kyle Orton (3,802 yards, 21 TDs, 12 INTs in 2009), they will certainly miss not having WR Brandon Marshall to throw to. Marshall caught 101 passes for 1,120 yards and ten scores last season, including a game against the Colts in which he broke the NFL record for receptions in a game with 21. However, he was benched by McDaniels for the final game of the '09 regular season with the playoffs on the line and ultimately was traded to Miami in the offseason.
Without doing much to help a rush defense that ranked 26th in the NFL last season at 128.7 yards per game conceded, this could once again be a long year in the Mile High City.
Oakland Raiders (+700 Odds to win AFC West at Bodog Sportsbook)
If there was ever a really intriguing selection to win a division, the Oakland Raiders could be that team. No, we don't really ever expect the silver and black to amount to much, but this team has uncharacteristically made some fantastic moves to try to improve itself.
Gone is QB JaMarcus Russell after four failed seasons in Oakland. In his place will be QB Jason Campbell, who comes to the Raiders after his troubled times in Washington. Drafting LB Rolando McLain out of Alabama in the first round this year might have been a bit of a reach, but the brass in Oakland knows that he is a perfect fit for a defense which gave up 361.9 yards per game last year.
Kansas City Chiefs (+750 Odds to win AFC West at Bodog Sportsbook)
Head Coach Todd Haley knows that his Chiefs are most likely a year or two away from being able to compete in this division. Strides really weren't made last year, especially with a defense which averaged allowing 388.2 yards and 26.5 points per game.
Quarterback Matt Cassel didn't exactly look like the same man that lit the world on fire in New England in Tom Brady's absence in '09, throwing for just 2,924 yards and 16 TDs versus 16 INTs in his first year as the starting signal caller in KC. If there was one incredible bright spot, it was the running of RB Jamaal Charles. It appears now that RB Larry Johnson has departed once and for all that Charles, who rushed for 658 yards in the last four games of the regular season, is going to be the man to lead the rushing attack for the Chiefs.