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A.J. Smith pumps up Peyton Manning, Broncos

No surprise here: The Denver Broncos have emerged as the hot pick in the AFC West. This is what happens when a playoff team from a year ago solves its quarterback problem with Peyton Manning.

Heavily ignored in the fanfare surrounding Denver is the rest of the AFC West. San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith has taken notice:

"I couldn't care less about predictions," Smith told U-T San Diego on Wednesday. "It's fun to do, and it stimulates conversation. ... As far as the division race is concerned, I know this, it will be very difficult to win the West. The Broncos are defending champs, and they added Peyton Manning. The Raiders and the Chiefs are much better. The Broncos are led by one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. I just hope the Broncos don't run away with the division and leave the rest of us behind in the dust."

Friends: Welcome to A.J. Smith 101. Where sarcasm abounds. Watch as Smith prods up the opponent to make a slight mockery of springtime groupthink.

All of this reminds us of the silly chatter surrounding the NFC East last summer, when long, glowing columns were authored about the Philadelphia Eagles, our soon-to-be champions.

The Broncos deserve a chance to write their own story, but let's hold off on crowning anyone here in May.

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