Chiefs preseason: Game 1 and the race for the AFC West

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Aug 15, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws a pass against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Race for the AFC West

Yes, it is only one preseason game, but its never too early to start thinking about the AFC West and the competition to win it.

Things have changed this off-season.  The AFC West has improved as a whole. The draft has been the primary source of new talent in the West.  While the California teams have improved, I see the division remaining a race between the Broncos and the Chiefs.  One team is on the way up and one is on the way back to earth.  As the 2015 season approaches these two teams look even at the top of the division.  In fact, the similarities between he two teams is becoming eerily similar.

On defense, each pass rush features an elite rusher, an aging but still productive veteran and a young, explosive heir-apparent.  Both have a very good secondary that is capable of being elite, although the experience edge goes to Denver. The defensive lines are in transition.  The Chiefs are without Poe and DeVito is just returning to action.  The Broncos have moved to a three-man front, though Derek Wolfe is listed at only 283 lbs.

On the offensive side, a few things remain the same.  The Chiefs wide receiver corps has some catching up to do, relative to the Broncos, despite the addition of Maclin.  The quarterbacks are the quarterbacks.

The striking resemblance lies in each teams’ offensive line as well.  The Chiefs started a shuffled line that was significantly different than 2014.  It included a rookie and an established vet.  The Broncos started two established vets on the right side of their offensive line, but that’s where it gets interesting.  The Broncos current starting combination of center, left guard and left tackle have a combined zero starts.  Two of the three are rookies.

These conditions make the playing field more even.  The Chiefs need to exploit the young offensive line in order to put pressure on Peyton Manning.  That pressure will be key in getting an early season win over Denver and be in position to challenge for the division title.

That’s the bottom line, Addicts.  See you next week!