The San Diego Chargers are one of the three top teams in the AFC and they have the good fortune of playing in the worst division. There is no reason to assume anyone in the West will challenge their supremacy and there may not even be another team in the division that has a .500 record.
Denver is going in the wrong direction, the Chiefs are already moving in a rebuilding direction and the Raiders continue to seem direction challenged. That should make this a one-team race barring a spate of dreadful injuries. Frankly, even that might not be enough to make this division competitive.
Kansas City is hoping to become a power team but is trying to do it with young offensive talent that is still in the developmental stage. Denver's offensive line is aging and its defensive line is weak and those are the staples of most winning teams. As for the Raiders, they're 15-49 the past four years for a reason -- a talent drought that has yet to end.
Under the radar
NFL.com's Gil Brandt has identified four underrated players in the AFC West, one from each team, who will bear watching this season:
Didn't become a starter until Week 6 last season and caught 47 passes in last 11 games. A three-sport starter in college, he's got a ton of upside.
WR, Kansas City
Fine rookie season was overshadowed by team's struggles. Bowe does everything you want a WR to do, and new coordinator Chan Gailey will get him the ball.
S, San Diego
Didn't start as a rookie last season, but was a factor in dime packages. Very smart player who is faster than his timed speed, he'll have an impact in 2008.
Team on the rise
Team in transition
Kansas City is trying to retool its offense away from last year's elaborate motion attack and into a power running game that will be physical and limit turnovers. They'll be trying to do it with new starters in four of the five offensive line positions, which is transition to some, turmoil to others.
Coach in the spotlight
Lane Kiffin. If you work for Al Davis and you don't win you're in the spotlight.
Star on the rise
Selvin Young rushed for 729 yards last year in Denver, piling up 578 on only 116 carries in his eight starts. Mike Shanahan is reluctant to give him the ball full time because of his lack of size but he's the best Shanahan's got and he makes plays.
Glenn Dorsey better make an impact in the middle of the Chiefs' defensive line. That's why they drafted the 320-pound LSU All-American with the fifth pick. He has size, strength and the right disposition to be an anchor in the midst of a rebuilding defense that had no Pro Bowlers on that side of the ball between 1999 and 2006. Jared Allen changed that last season but he's been traded to Minnesota.
Count on it
LaDainian Tomlinson will have another huge season after stewing all winter and spring over comments that questioned his toughness when he sat on the bench in uniform during the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots but did not play because of an injured knee.
Don't be surprised if
Larry Johnson bounces back this year in Kansas City after missing eight games last season with a broken foot. It's healed and the emphasis will be on him.