Nice write up Kaylore.
I haven't followed the NFL sufficiently this off season to offer much of an informed opinion, but I've kept up with my beloved Chargers and Denver was in the news so much this spring that they were unavoidable.
Starting with Denver - the rightful off season favorite in my opinion - I want to say they look like a 12-4 team with Peyton Manning, a good offensive line, and a decent defense. Seeing their schedule makes me second guess that, though. And looking over their roster, I think you have to be very concerned about their depth on defense. They look thin on the defensive line and look to be counting on getting a lot from some veterans with recent health problems. Now Dumervil has a potentially serious issue. Same with DJ Williams at linebacker. I'm not really familiar with what they have in the secondary right now, but I know age was a concern last season, and only one draft pick spent there. Peyton Manning does make his defense look a lot better though with the pressure he puts on the opposing team to score points. I'm worried about a situation where he scores some early touchdowns and Miller and Dumervil just spend the rest of the afternoon teeing off.
That schedule is brutal though, especially early on when Manning will be re-adjusting to the game. Looks like 10-6 at best to me, but with some probable play off juice if the vets stay reasonably healthy.
As for San Diego, the popular national sentiment seems to be that losing Vincent Jackson defined their off season, but I disagree. VJ made big, game-changing plays, but he was never Rivers' go-to guy. That distinction has always belonged to Antonio Gates, and Gates should enter this season healthy for the first time since 2007. After Gates, its Malcolm Floyd, who has shown two things: 1) He can put up big numbers in this offense when he's healthy, and 2) he can't stay healthy. That's a concern, and that's why I was so thrilled with adding Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal. Add in Vincent Brown hopefully showing second-year improvement, and I think this group is definitely good enough for Rivers to be successful. Just as important, its a deep group.
On defense, adding Kendall Reyes (who I love) and Abrayo Franklin to the mix of youngsters up front substantially improves that group. Donald Butler is a really good inside linebacker, but his inside partner will probably be below average. The outside linebacker position should be the best its been since the MerriRoid days with Jarrett Johnson and Melvin Ingram replacing some ineffectual players who were on the field way too much last season. The Chargers main concern on defense has to be in the secondary, and that concern is well-founded. All three of our cornerbacks sucked hard last year, and the safety spot opposite Weddle will be filled by a journeyman. I'm hoping our new defensive coordinator, John Pagano, is talented enough to cover this up.
To me, the Chargers are good enough to finish 10-6 and bad enough to hit 8-8.