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Stars aligning for Los Angeles Chargers while Oakland Raiders a mystery under Jon Gruden in AFC West preview

Breaking down the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders heading into the new season.

Jay Asser 2018/09/06

The AFC West may be the division that has experienced the most change in teams’ most important areas.

While the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos have new starting quarterbacks, a familiar face has returned to the Oakland Raiders to take the heading-coaching reins.

The Los Angeles Chargers were already the most talented roster in the field, but their continuity should give them another advantage in the battle for the division crown.

Learn more about the teams with our AFC West team guides.

DENVER BRONCOS

Head coach: Vance Joseph

Star player: Von Miller

Last season: 5-11

Key ins: Case Keenum (Minnesota), Marquette King (Oakland), Adam Jones (Cincinnati), Jared Veldheer (Arizona), Tramaine Brock (Minnesota), Clinton McDonald (Tampa Bay), Su’a Cravens (Washington), Bradley Chubb (rookie), Courtland Sutton (rookie), Royce Freeman (rookie)

Key outs: C.J. Anderson (Carolina), Aqib Talib (LA Rams), Allen Barbre (free agent)

Strengths: Edge rushing will be scary with Miller, Chubb, Shane Ray and others.

Weaknesses: Passing attack is improved but still has question marks.

Verdict: If their offence can get in the same ballpark as their defence, they may surprise.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Head coach: Andy Reid

Star player: Eric Berry

Last season: 10-6, lost in Wild Card round

Key ins: Sammy Watkins (LA Rams), Kendall Fuller (Washington), Orlando Scandrick (Washington), Anthony Hitchens (Dallas), Breeland Speaks (rookie), Derrick Nnadi (rookie)

Key outs: Alex Smith (Washington), Tamba Hali (free agent), Bennie Logan (Tennessee), Albert Wilson (Miami), Marcus Peters (LA Rams), Derrick Johnson (Oakland), Zach Fulton (Houston)

Strengths: Have a high-powered offence with multiple weapons.

Weaknesses: Could struggle to defend against the pass, even with Berry’s playmaking.

Verdict: Should be involved in plenty of shootouts.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Head coach: Anthony Lynn

Star player: Keenan Allen

Last season: 9-7

Key ins: Mike Pouncey (Miami), Virgil Green (Denver), Derwin James (rookie), Uchenna Nwosu (rookie), Justin Jones (rookie)

Key outs: Matt Slauson (Indianapolis), Jason Verrett (injury), Hunter Henry (injury), Tre Boston (Arizona)

Strengths: From top to bottom, have one of the most talented rosters in the league.

Weaknesses: Preseason injuries have already brought their depth into play and dampened their outlook.

Verdict: Everything is in place for them to be contenders, as long as they stay mostly healthy and Philip Rivers doesn’t completely fall off.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Head coach: Jon Gruden

Star player: Rodney Hudson

Last season: 6-10

Key ins: Jordy Nelson (Green Bay), Doug Martin (Tampa Bay), Rashaan Melvin (Indianapolis), A.J. McCarron (Buffalo), Derrick Johnson (Kansas City), Marcus Gilchrist (Houston), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (NY Giants) Kolton Miller (rookie), P.J. Hall (rookie)

Key outs: Khalil Mack (Chicago), Michael Crabtree (Baltimore), Marquette King (Denver), Cordarrelle Patterson (New England), Sean Smith (free agent)

Strengths: Interior offensive line is as good as it gets.

Weaknesses: Tied for second-fewest takeaways last year (14).

Verdict: Gruden was gone for a long time and it could show.

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Denver Broncos Jon Gruden Kansas City Chiefs Keenan Allen Los Angeles Chargers Oakland Raiders Patrick Mahomes Philip Rivers Von Miller