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AFC WEST

Norv Turner continues to survive in San Diego despite seemingly diminishing returns. The Chargers woefully underachieved a year ago, as a series of injuries and a midseason slump allowed them to get Tebowed out of the postseason. Philip Rivers tried to largely do it himself, with woeful results. He tossed a career-high 20 interceptions; a healthy TE Antonio Gates should provide a return to normalcy. San Diego addressed its needs on defense by signing linebacker Jarret Johnson and using its first three draft picks on defensive players.

Kansas City made a stunning fall from a 2010 playoff run due to a series of injuries that gutted the roster. Running back Jamaal Charles, quarterback Matt Cassel, safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki are all healthy. Having Romeo Crennel _ as placid as former coach Haley was fiery _ should keep the Chiefs on an even keel; so should a user-friendly schedule in the second half of the season.

The sight of Manning wearing orange and blue is going to take some getting used to. Manning felt confident enough in Denver’s ability to compete for a title he spurned offers from other teams _ Arizona most notably. Going from Tebow to Manning is one of the most dramatic QB changes in recent memory. The Broncos will need to adapt quickly to be a threat in a tightly packed division.

The Oakland Raiders are so confident in Darren McFadden’s health they didn’t stop reliable backup Michael Bush from fleeing to Chicago. New coach Dennis Allen is trying to restore a sense of discipline to a franchise that largely ignores the trait. Quarterback Carson Palmer went 4-5 as the starter, but didn’t have McFadden in his backfield. Allen’s defense could help a defense that struggled in 2011. Still, Palmer will have to throw the ball eventually, and the Raiders haven’t had a true No. 1 receiver since Randy Moss.

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PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:

AFC EAST

1) New England

2) New York Jets

3) Miami

4) Buffalo

AFC NORTH

1) Baltimore

Story Continues →