This time we continue our pre-season look around the NFL divisions with the AFC West. Last season the Broncos won the division with a 13-3 record as both San Diego and Kansas City settled for wildcard spots, leaving a poor Oakland bringing up the rear.
How's it going to play out in 2014 though. Let's take a look at some of the biggest questions hanging over the teams and players as we go into training camp.
Can the Broncos defensive stars come together?
Given the age of Peyton Manning Denver are in win now mode. After getting thrashed by the Seahawks in last years Superbowl the area the Broncos targeted for improvement was defense.
To this end they splashed out in free agency picking up three of the premier defensive players available DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talin and T.J. Ward. There is no doubting the talent of each of these players but a defense needs to be a unit not just a collection of individuals.
Will the Broncos be able to gel all this new talent into a strong defense?
Will Jaamal Charles be at training camp?
It is not much of an exaggeration that the Kansas City Chiefs offensive playbook begins and ends with Jaamal Charles. He is both their number one running back and their number one receiver. He is also one of the top three running backs in the NFL.
The thing is though Charles also wants to be paid like a top NFL running back which is more than the $3.65 million he is due in 2014. As such it is looking like Charles is going to skip training camp. Given how pivotal Charles is to the offense the Chiefs need to get this issue sorted out ASAP. They are already having to install what is essentially a brand new offensive line doing it without there key man is far from ideal.
What is the Oakland Raiders team going to look like?
Oakland are perhaps the team most in transition in the entire NFL. Going into training camps the Raiders have all sorts of issues to settle.
Who is going to be the starting QB? Under pressure veteran Matt Schaub or rookie round two draft pick Derek Carr? Who is going to start at running back Maurice Jones-Drew or Darren McFadden? What is the wide receiver corp going to look like? Rod Streater led the Raiders last season with 60 receptions for 888 yards but James Jones and Greg Little were brought in via free agency. Whilst questions over the offensive line and defensive line both need to be answered.
What ever happens at training camp watching these issues be resolved promises to be interesting.
Who starts opposite Keenan Allen?
After a strong rookie season Keenan Allen has established himself as the Chargers number one wide receiver target. Who is going to be the Chargers wide receiver two though? In the long term the Chargers would hope it will be Vincent Brown.
Aged 25 Brown has time to make the position his for years to come and the potential to form a potent wide receiver duo with Allen. Both Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd are going to give Brown a run for his money though.
How good is Monte Ball?
With the departure of Knowshon Moreno to Miami the stage is set for Monte Ball to act as the Broncos number one running back. Is he good enough though? Running backs in this Broncos offense need to be able to pass protect and catch the ball.
Much of the hype around Ball is based around the fact that he will be playing with Peyton Manning. With defenses set up to stop Manning's passing game the running game is given a huge advtanage. Knowshon Moreno was a top five fantasy running back last year as he rushed for over thousand yards and received for over 500.
Expectations are that Ball will be at least as good. Remember though Ball was expected
to be the number one back last season and it never happened.
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