It is no secret; if the Kansas City Chiefs want to make consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since 1994-95, they will have to be better within the AFC West.
Last year, Kansas City went 11-5 despite going 2-4 within its division. The Chiefs beat the Oakland Raiders twice but went an ugly 0-4 against the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers. However, Kansas City was not far off from being 2-2 or even 3-1 in those games.
Coming into the season, the Chiefs are expected to contend with the Chargers for a wild-card spot, with the Broncos being the clear favorite. Of course, those prognostications - for better or worse - mean absolutely nothing. So, where do the teams stand after a week of preseason football? Let's break it down team-by-team:
Oakland lost Jared Veldheer in free agency to the Cardinals, leaving some serious questions about the offensive line. Against the Vikings, the interior of the line was excellent, handling a solid Minnesota front. The Raiders did their most impressive running between the tackles, giving hope to those in Oakland for an improved line.
Tarell Brown is expected to be a starter in Oakland after coming over from the 49ers. Brown struggled though against Cordarrelle Patterson, being beaten repeatedly by the arm of Matt Cassel.
San Diego rolled over the Cowboys last Thursday, not exactly a stunning outcome. The offense was terrific rolling up 152 yards on the ground. Ryan Mathews looked good, sans his goal-line fumble. Mathews fumbling has to be a concern, considering he coughed the ball up 13 times in his career.
The defense had moments on both ends of the spectrum. Kwame Geathers played very well, stacking up linemen and finding his way to the ball. Unfortanutely for San Diego, Kendall Reyes continues to play very uninspired football.
One area to watch in Denver could be the running backs. No team has less experience at the tailback position, with the Broncos' running backs having a combined 266 carries in their NFL careers. The bigger question is how are these backs at picking up the blitz? The departed Knowshon Moreno was excellent at that.
On a positive note, middle linebacker Nate Irving shined against the Seahawks in Denver's preseason opener. Irving is trying to take the place of Wesley Woodyard, who left via free agency to join the Titans. Irving is a young player who is unproven but talented.