1. San Diego Chargers (16.0)
Offense: Fiery QB Philip Rivers is one of the NFL's best passers. Rookie RB Ryan Mathews looks ready to fill L.T.'s shoes. Pro Bowl TE Antonio Gates leads receiving corps minus Pro Bowl holdout Vincent Jackson. How will offensive line perform without holdout LT Marcus McNeill? Grade: 4.5.
Defense: The pass rush will be fierce if OLB trio of Shaun Phillips, Shawne Merriman and '09 first-round pick Larry English stay healthy. The Chargers need better play up front. CBs Quentin Jammer is star of talented secondary. Grade: 3.5.
Special Teams: K Nate Kaeding is steady in regular season, but not in playoffs. P Mike Scifres is outstanding. Darren Sproles is a dynamic return man. Grade: 4.5.
Coaching: Norv Turner's teams play their best late in the season. Grade: 3.5.
On the spot: WR Malcolm Floyd. Won't miss Jackson if he steps up.
Prediction: Winning division isn't enough for team expected to contend for Super Bowl. Record: 11-5.
2. Oakland Raiders (14.0)
Offense: QB Jason Campbell is big step up from mega-bust JaMarcus Russell. In the absence of a true No. 1 receiver, TE Zach Miller will be Campbell's go-to guy. Michael Bush's power and Darren McFadden's speed could make for a solid run game, if the O-line plays with more consistency. Grade: 3.0.
Defense: This unit looks promising with elite players CB Nnamdi Asomugha and DE/DT Richard Seymour. Rookie MLB Rolando McClain and DT Lamarr Houston help improve run "D." Grade: 3.5.
Special Teams: Is there a better tandem than All-Pro P Shane Lechler and K Sebastian Janikowski? Rookie Jacoby Ford, a world-class sprinter, should have immediate impact on returns. Grade: 4.5.
Coaching: There are signs that the team is beginning to adopt Tom Cable's hard-nosed personality. Grade: 3.0.
On the spot: WR Darrius Heywood-Bey. Time to play like a top-10 pick.
Prediction: Still a work in progress, but progress is being made. Record: 7-9.
3. Denver Broncos (13.5)
Offense: QB Kyle Orton is a savvy game manager. But he'll miss WR Brandon Marshall, who was traded. RB Knowshon Moreno has to stay healthy. Pro Bowl LT Ryan Clady's return from offseason knee injury bolsters O-line. Grade: 3.0.
Defense: OLB Elvis Dumervil, whose NFL-high 17 sacks accounted for 47 percent of team's total, is done for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. NT Jamal Williams, 34, will be an asset against the run if he has anything left. CB Champ Bailey headlines 30-something secondary. Grade: 3.5.
Special Teams: K Matt Prater is consistent on field goals and kickoffs (28 touchbacks ranked second in NFL). Rookie Perrish Cox (six TDs in college) can fill return role. Grade: 4.0.
Coaching: Josh McDaniel's team-oriented message has been well received in the locker room. Grade: 3.0.
On the spot: WR Jabar Gaffney. Orton needs a go-to guy.
Prediction: A lot has to go right for them to contend. Record: 5-11.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (12.5)
Offense: An exciting backfield of veteran free agent Thomas Jones (1,402 yards, 14 TDs with Jets), rising star Jamaal Charles (1,120 yards) and rookie speed demon Dexter McCluster should ease pressure on QB Matt Cassel, whose best receiving option is inconsistent Dwayne Bowe.O-line must protect Cassel better. Grade: 3.0.
Defense: Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson are the most talented linebackers. DEs Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson haven't played like top-five draft choices. First-round pick Eric Berry is the big-time playmaker the secondary lacked. Grade: 2.5.
Special Teams: K Ryan Succop and P Dustin Colquitt are major strengths. McCluster and rookie Javier Arenas bring big-play potential to return game. Grade: 4.0.
Coaching: Todd Haley tried to do too much in first year, but will settle into a delegating role with trusted coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel running the offense and defense. Grade: 3.0.
On the spot: Cassel. His improvement is vital to team's long-term success.
Prediction: Could surprise if defense comes around. Record: 4-12.