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Around the AFC West: what to watch in the preseason

Taking a look around the division as preseason games begin this weekend.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers Training Camp Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

For the Kansas City Chiefs and the rest of the AFC West, it’s time for preseason games. Let’s take a look at how things are going in the rest of the division.

Denver Broncos

This week, the Broncos held joint practices with their week one preseason opponent, the Minnesota Vikings. Drew Lock might have won the day, but the more consistent quarterback play came from Teddy Bridgewater. Neither Lock nor Bridgewater has emerged as the starter yet.

One player that should have consistent production on the offensive side of the football is wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy caught deep balls from both Lock and Bridgewater during the scrimmage. Jeudy is trying to improve his catching from last season, when he finished tied for second in the NFL in dropped passes with 12.

The Broncos are set to take on the Vikings this Saturday at 3 p.m. Arrowhead time.

Position battle to watch

With every position group for the Broncos already set, it all comes down to who will start at quarterback. The Broncos could have the best defense in the league but may still lose over half of their games due to the quarterback play. That would be a frustrating scenario for players such as Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Jeudy, Courtland Sutton — or even their first-round draft pick Patrick Surtian II — as they cannot play quarterback.

The must-see tweet

Las Vegas Raiders

It is Week 4 of training camp in the NFL, and around the AFC West, the buzz is that the Raiders will finish last in the division.

The biggest need for an upgrade in the offseason was finding a new defensive coordinator, and they found that in former Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. I wouldn’t say that the defense is the side to watch, but it will be interesting to see what Bradley will scheme up on the first defensive drive for the Raiders against Russell Wilson.

The Raiders take on the Seattle Seahawks Saturday at 8 p.m. Arrowhead Time at Allegiant Stadium, marking the first time fans will watch an NFL game inside the “Death Star.”

Position battle to watch

I think this preseason game will show how good or how bad this offensive line can be. We already know the big departures in Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown and Gabe Jackson — so with the new guys on the line in right tackle Alex Leatherwood and center Andre James, who will make an impact?

Denzelle Good is up for a starting role rather than being a fill-in for an injured player, as he was in previous seasons. Analysts believe the offensive line has regressed drastically after losing the star power of Hudson and Brown, but perhaps not.

Hudson, at 32, may not have many years left, and Brown only played 16 games in the two seasons he was with the Raiders. Brown was either hurt or on the COVID-19 list last season, so if the Raiders can get five games out of Alex Leatherwood at right tackle, they are already improving.

The offensive line is the point to watch as the Raiders take on the Seahawks.

The must-see tweet

Los Angeles Chargers

Once again, everybody’s AFC West darling is the Chargers, this time with analysts expecting big things from Justin Herbert and this defense.

Earlier this week, the Chargers held their “Fan Fest” scrimmage, where fans could watch for the first time at SoFi Stadium. This scrimmage showed how good Herbert was against his own team and how veteran tight end Jared Cook may help this offense.

The Chargers are set to take on the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday at 9 p.m. Arrowhead Time, and you can watch the game on the NFL Network.

Position battle to watch

I believe the running back room is the one to watch for the Chargers, especially this week in their preseason game against the Rams.

Austin Ekeler is the clear-cut favorite to start Week 1 if healthy, but Justin Jackson can easily step up, too. We witnessed Ekeler performing back when former Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was absent, and I firmly believe Jackson is now in the same shoes as Ekeler. We all know Ekeler is a threat at pass-catching from the backfield, and that’s the area Jackson needs to improve upon. Still, last season, he caught 19 passes in nine games (four starts).

This offense, which projects to be pass-first, could work wonders if it keeps two backs in the backfield in a shotgun-style formation in which Herbert can dump it to either Ekeler or Jackson.

The must-see tweet

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