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Power Ranking the AFC West Position Groups

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The best way to get to the post-season is to start by winning games in your division. In trying to figure out how the AFC West stacks up overall, I found it best to compare all of the position groups. Here is how tough the Chargers will have it for six of their games this season:

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

These rankings are based both on the starter quality as well as overall depth. Lets have some fun!

Quarterback
  1. Broncos
  2. Chargers
  3. Chiefs
  4. Raiders

This was the easiest position group to rank. Peyton Manning would rate as the number one QB in any division, especially coming off a record 55 touchdown passes in 2013. Philip Rivers was the second best signal-caller in 2013, taking care of one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL. Alex Smith was solid, but that's all he may ever be. The Raiders' QB situation was improved by the acquisition of   Matt Schuab, so that's all you really need to know there.

Running Back
  1. Chiefs
  2. Chargers
  3. Raiders
  4. Broncos

The Chiefs get the nod here simply because Jamaal Charles is probably the most important non-QB player in the division. Without him, the Kansas City's offense would come to a screeching halt. The Chargers boast the best depth at the position in the division, as one of the deepest groups around the NFL. Ryan Mathews had a career high 1,255 rushing yards in 2013. Matchup-nightmare Danny Woodhead finished second on the team with 76 receptions, and newcome Donald Brown is well-rounded enough to back up either in case of an injury. This is one position the Chargers don't have to worry about in 2014. The Raiders could have a strong duo if Maurice Jones-Drew gets back on track and if Darren McFadden can stay healthy. However, those are big "if"s. The Broncos have little proven depth at running back after running Knoshon Moreno into the ground and letting him walk.

Wide Receiver/Tight End
  1. Broncos
  2. Chargers
  3. Chiefs
  4. Raiders

The Broncos are loaded with pass-catchers as much as any team in the league. Demaryius Thomas is an absolute stud, Wes Welker is a nightmare to cover in the slot and Julius Thomas emerged as a strong target at tight end. Not a fun group to try to cover. The Chargers are helped massively by 2013 3rd round pick Keenan Allen. San Diego is not quite loaded, but multiple recieving threats at tight end in Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green give Allen some help. The Chiefs are thin behind Dwayne Bowe as far as pass catchers go, and the Raiders' number one target appears to be Rod Streater. Again, not much explanation needed for Oakland.

Offensive Line
  1. Broncos
  2. Chargers
  3. Chiefs
  4. Raiders

Peyton Manning's quick release can make his offensive line look stronger than it is, but Denver has plenty of talent up front. Ryan Clady and Luis Vasquez lead a very talented group. The Chargers' offensive line is also helped by a quick passing game, but they also ran the ball very well. Tackles King Dunlap and DJ Fluker were among the best at their position at run blocking. The Chiefs lost a ton of offensive line talent this offseason in the form of three starting-caliber lineman. Their depth is thin but have a solid starting 5, although number one pick Eric Fisher needs to improve on his rookie performance. The Raiders may have been number 3 on the list if they chose to re-sign Jared Veldheer over Donald Penn. They are last in the division, but overall, their offensive line is not horrible. I do have questions about both of their starting guards however.

Defensive Line
  1. Chiefs
  2. Broncos
  3. Raiders
  4. Chargers

This ranking is based off of interior lineman, including 4-3 defensive tackles and all 3-4 defensive lineman. Dontari Poe leads a strong run-stopping defensive line in Kansas City while Terrence "Pot Roast" Knighton does the same in Denver. The Raiders could end up much higher on this list, as Pat Sims is talented but inconsistent. I was also a fan of Justin Ellis coming into the 2014 draft. Corey Liuget apparently played injured in 2013, which would explain his decline, and the team would greatly benefit from him reverting to 2012 form. The same could be said about Kendall Reyes. The main concern for the Chargers defense will most likely be overall depth.

Edge Rushers
  1. Chiefs
  2. Broncos
  3. Raiders
  4. Chargers

The Chiefs are as loaded as any team in the NFL at outside linebacker. Justin Houston has become one of the best pass rushers in the league, while Tabma Hali provides a nice compliment. The Chiefs also drafted Auburn's Dee Ford, who gets around the edge like a rocket. I included Von Miller as an edge rusher in Denver, because that is what he does best. He converts speed to power as well as anyone out there, although he is coming off a torn ACL. Demarcus Ware will provide the best help across the way that Miller has seen in his young career. While I see it as a huge mistake that the Raiders did not pursue Lamarr Houston harder, they did add established veterans Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley. Rookie Khalil Mack should also provide some heat off the edge. As for the Chargers, it pains me to put them last because I see them improving, but they don't have any established edge rushers besides Dwight Freeney, who could see a limited number of snaps. Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attoachu have the athletic ability to rush the passer, but have to prove they can develop some pass rush moves.

Linebackers
  1. Chiefs
  2. Chargers
  3. Raiders
  4. Broncos

The weakest position group in the division is the 2nd level linebackers (that is, the non-pass rushers). Derrick is by far the best in the division, so the Chiefs pretty much claim the number one spot by default. The Chargers would be greatly helped by Donald Butler being healthy and Manti Te'o trusting his instincts, as appears to be the case this summer. The Raiders have some solid young players, but nothing spectacular at this point. As for the Broncos, they were thin before, the loss of Danny Trevathan. They better hope that the 6-8 week recovery time holds true and the can have him for the second half of the season.

Secondary
  1. Broncos
  2. Chargers
  3. Chiefs
  4. Raiders

The Broncos willingness to go all in this offseason resulted in two big time signings in the secondary. Aquib Talib and Mike Adams come will add to an already talented secondary. Eric Weddle is the best defensive back in the division, but the additions of Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers were needed to keep the Chargers from coming in at number 4. The Chiefs and Raiders cornerback situations re pretty big question marks to me, but Eric Berry at safety serves as the tie-breaker and puts the Chiefs at number 3.

Overall, the Broncos overall roster dominates the AFC west, at least when you factor in the importance of each position. However, with Philip Rivers and an improving defense the Chargers could be in the chase for a wild card spot again in 2014.The Chiefs will lean on their defense and running game if they hope to be playing into January again. For the Raiders. I do believe they are improving, especially on defense. However, they still have a ways to go to catch up with the talent in the AFC West.

Let me know what you think!