— -- The AFC West is home to the defending Super Bowl champions, but the Denver Broncos you saw lay waste to the Carolina Panthers in February aren't the ones you'll see suiting up in September. Many of Denver's stars have scattered to the winds, thanks to retirement and free agency. As many as nine of the starters who lined up for Denver against Carolina, including seven offensive starters, will not be in those same spots when the Broncos open the NFL season in a rematch against the Panthers on Sept. 8.
With that in mind, the West feels wide-open. The Kansas City Chiefs were arguably a better team in the regular season than the Broncos, missing out on the division title only because of a ridiculous collapse from a 96-plus percent win expectancy in the final three minutes against Denver in Week 2. The Oakland Raiders have a promising young core of talent and used their $75 million in cap space to fuel a defensive resurgence. And while the San Diego Chargers were sunk last year, they went 3-8 in games decided by one score or less and still have the division's best quarterback; their turnaround could come quickly. That's a lot to compete with for a Broncos team that shed stars all offseason ... unless you argue that they went 12-4 and actually improved at a key position. But who would do that?
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