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Around the AFC West: Week 1

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Denver Broncos

What was the running joke last year, everyone started referring to the Broncos as the "Denver Tebows"? Well this year they might as well start calling them the "Denver Peytons" because that's all anyone and everyone is still talking about. I realize that picking up a future-Hall-of-Fame quarterback during the off-season is a big deal, but I'm sure there's more to talk about than Manningface.

The pre-season consensus seems to be that the Broncos - who went 8-8 last season with Orton and Tebow at the helm - are immediately Super Bowl contenders with Manning under center. But not so fast, just as many pundits that are ready to crown Broncos have come out questioning Manning's ability to be successful in Denver. Whether it's concerns about his neck exploding, his age, his installing a new system, learning new players and/or coaches, learning to play at altitude; all these items have been brought up as potential roadblocks in the way of Manning's success in Denver.

One thing is made clear: the Broncos live and die by Peyton Manning.

There were two big surprises on cut day: CB Drayton Florence was sent walking, and RB Knowshon Moreno wasn't. Florence was seen as a key signing this past offseason, and his being released came as a shock across the league. There was speculation that the Chargers would be interested in him (again) but that didn't pan out.

Knowshon Moreno on the other hand seemed to be all but gone this year. Fans have been frustrated with his performance the last few seasons, and he had injury issues last year and even got popped for DUI during the offseason. It was expected he'd fade to obscurity with the crowded backfield the Broncos developed this year; guess not.

Aside from that, nothing really groundbreaking going on at mile-high. The Broncos host the banged-up Steelers on Sunday night.

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Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs join the Chargers and Raiders as being a part of the muddled mix of teams that aren't expected at all to finish atop the AFC West. A number of pundits are expecting the Chiefs to finish anywhere from 2nd to 4th in the division. I could easily find you a similar number of pundits that says the same thing about the Chargers and Raiders.

The Chiefs do look to be improved this year as they're getting three key players back from injury: RB Jamaal Charles, S Eric Berry and RE Tony Moeaki; all knocked out last year with ACL tears.

Even though they get those guys back, much like the Chargers, the Chiefs are dealing with a few key injuries to start the season. 7 players - all on defense - either did not or were limited in practice today, with 5 of those 7 being starters. So with the Chiefs defense already hurting, and they'll be playing without Tamba Hali on Sunday, the Chiefs defense will have their hands full against Matt Ryan and the Falcons.

The injuries to the defense are apparently enough of a concern as Kansas City has brought in a few players to work out for the team: CB Chris Carr and ILBs Bobby Carpenter and Bryan Kehl. None of those players have been signed yet though.

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Oakland Raiders

The biggest word to describe the Oakland Raiders' offseason: turnover. No not turnovers, but turnover, as in getting rid of people and replacing them with new people.

After the passing of Al Davis last year, the Raiders completely overhauled their front office. As with nearly any front-office regime change, the Raiders then took to overhauling the team on the field. Nearly half of the players from the 2011 Raiders are now gone; HALF! 24 of the 53 players from the 2011 Opening Day roster are no longer on the team. I expected quite a bit of change, but it just really surprises me to see half the team gone after just one year.

The Roscoe Parrish experiment ended after just one week. The first time he touched the ball in the final preseason game, he fumbled and lost it. He was then cut the next day. Another interesting tidbit: after all the cuts came down, there was not a single CB left on the team from last year.

Aside from that, the Raiders are preparing for their Monday night showdown against the Chargers. The fans especially seem to be licking their chops at the prospect of an undrafted rookie protecting Philip Rivers' blindside.

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