Dec 29, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson (97) celebrates after sacking Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Broncos won 34-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos: 11-5
Kansas City Chiefs: 9-7
San Diego Chargers: 6-10
This race will be much closer than most people anticipate. Yes, Peyton Manning is still in Denver, but there are plenty of holes in that team, and there are plenty of weapons down in Kansas City.
The Broncos will once again be far too reliant on Manning’s arm to win them games, and as long-time Patriots fan, I can tell you that relying on Peyton usually doesn’t turn out too well. Denver went out and made some big changes to their defense, but I am not convinced they were enough to put them over the top. First of all, Aqib Talib is a great corner, but whenever you really need him, he will be on the sidelines with some injury. I hate to say it, but it’s true. T.J. Ward is a good young player, but his forte is physicality, not coverage. That will help when they need to stop Jamaal Charles, but Tom Brady will absolutely eat him alive. And DeMarcus Ware is still very dangerous, but way past his prime. He certainly is not the number one weapon on that defense.
Kansas City is an interesting squad. There is a ton of talent on that team, but for some reason, they couldn’t put it all together last season. I have a feeling the same thing will happen in 2014. If they could somehow get it together, they could easily overthrow Denver as the division champs. But the defense won’t hold up (specifically against Manning), and Alex Smith can’t be counted on to out-duel every other quarterback in the NFL.