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San Diego Chargers

LT

Outlook
The San Diego (Super) Chargers begin the 2008 season as one of the favorite teams to win the Super Bowl. Is this something they can live up to? Is this the year they finally beat the Patriots and represent the AFC in Tampa come February? While they certainly have the talent to do so, it seems there’s always something in way, be it Marty Schottenheimer’s playoff touch or the arm of Tom Brady.

The biggest weakness facing the Chargers is not one of talent or coaching, regardless how many funny faces Norv Turner makes. No, the biggest hurdle the Chargers have to overcome is provided by the injury bug:

Will LT’s knee be healthy? Will he be the same player as before? What about Philip Rivers? What happens when Rivers takes a shot in the leg? Will the Chargers be reduced to backup quarterback play? How is Antonio Gates’ toe? Can he cut and shift like before? What happens when it gets stepped on? And finally, what about Shawne Merriman? Why is he even playing? Does he think the window of opportunity permanently closes after 2008? Will he be able to provide anything resembling a non-injured Merriman?

If the answer to these questions are positive, expect the to see the Chargers in the AFC Championship. However, overcoming the Patriots is another story — until they prove otherwise. Put me down for 13-3 and the AFC West championship.

Hottest Chargers Cheerleader
Earlier this year, during a playoff preview post, I picked Carly as the hottest Charger Girl — who still the best cheerleader pages of all the NFL teams — and I’m happy to say she’s still with the team. I am, however, picking another representative of the Chargers Girls for this spot to help you expand your horizons.

Kamri

Introducing Kamri, who does wonderful things for the cowboy hat look.

Denver Broncos

Broncos

Outlook
The Denver Broncos personify the phrase “so-so.” They are not great at any one position — save Champ Bailey — and they aren’t terrible in any one position either. That’s just it, the Broncos are average. They have an average quarterback in Jay Cutler, but it does look like Cutler has the tools to be really good. The Broncos have a steady running game, a Mike Shanahan staple, but is it any better than, say, Oakland’s or San Diego’s?

Same with the defense, a group that was adequate some games and others, they looked not-so-adequate. When you add all of that up and mix some of the new arrivals in, you get a team that could be a playoff team. Then again, you also have a team that looks like it could fall to .500 or below.

If that happens, does the heat finally get turned up on Shanahan, who hasn’t had near the success he experienced before John Elway retired? Until the Broncos get some skill players who are better than adequate, you’ll have more seasons like last year instead of the Elway years. With that, I’m comfortable putting the Broncos down for an average 8-8 season.

Hottest Broncos Cheerleader
Introducing Lauren Conrad, who, besides shaking her thang for Denver football, is also a sideline reporter for Mile High Sports. Lauren also did some work as a racing girl before joined the Broncos Cheerleaders.

Broncos

Is this Erin Andrews real competition? She certainly looks the part.

Oakland Raiders

McFadden

Outlook
What do you do with a bevy of running backs on team that needs all the offensive weapons it can muster? How do you break in a quarterback who has tons of players to hand the ball off to, but is lacking in the receiver department? Welcome to the Oakland Raiders, circa, 2008.

You want running backs? The Raiders have running backs, three of them, to be in fact. Led by last season’s team leading rusher in Justin Vargas Fargas, the Raiders certainly have the market cornered on potentially great running backs. After that, you have the talented Michael Bush, who looks to be healthy after recovering from a broken leg and, of course, oft-hyped rookie Darren McFadden. While having such talented players on a roster never hurts, are there enough footballs to satisfy these players, all of which could touch the ball over 20 times a game?

Are the Raiders and their coaching staff content to be a “run first” (and second and third) team or are they dying to unleash the cannon that is JaMarcus Russell’s arm? The second question would be easier to answer if Russell had someone besides Ronald Curry and an uncertain Javon Walker to throw the ball to — not that Curry is a poor player. Far from it. It’s just doubtful he’s a lead receiver in the NFL.

On defense, the Raiders lost Warren Sapp to retirement but gained defensive back DeAngelo Hall. While the two players do different things on the field, this does look like a push for the Raiders, especially when you consider the benefits of having a legitimate shutdown cornerback. Looking at the Raiders as a whole, it’s obvious they are a work-in-progress.

Because of that, put them down for a 6-10 season — a marked improvement over last year.

Hottest Raiders Cheerleader
Say hello to Cole, one of the longest running Raiderettes on the team. One thing’s for sure, she can certainly rock the two-piece very nicely.

Cole

All NFL teams should have cheerleader calendars — even if they don’t have cheerleaders.

Kansas City Chiefs

Larry Johnson

Outlook
It’s probably not wise to expect a great deal out of the Chiefs for a season or two as they continue to remake their team with a youth movement that should stabilize the franchise once it’s complete. Until then, if the Chiefs get anything past five wins, they should be celebrated like Super Bowl winners.

Consider this: the Chiefs have an inexperienced quarterback throwing to an inexperienced group of receivers, a defense that traded their best player and is also undergoing a youth movement. Herm’s defense will also be expecting at least three rookies to see substantial playing time. In other words, the Chiefs, barring a major miracle, will be bringing up the rear in the AFC West for at least this season.

There is a ray of hope for Chiefs fans, however — it looks like the youth movement should pay off, especially if they continue to draft like they did in June. However, with all rebuilding efforts, there are some rough spots to endure before the project is complete. This, for the Chiefs and their fans, will be one of those seasons.

4-12. At best.

Hottest Chiefs Cheerleader
Seeing how this office is located in KC, picking the winner here took a little more thought than normal, because, as you know, it’s hard work picking a hot cheerleader out of a pile of hot cheerleaders. But I persevered and selected Jeron, easily one of the better things you’ll see at a Chiefs game this season.

Jeron

Next up, the NFC East.