With record-smashing Peyton Manning at quarterback and a revitalized defense, the Denver Broncos are the best in the AFC West according to a survey of The Sports Xchange football staff.

San Diego and Kansas City are expected to wage a close battle for second place while the rebuilt Oakland Raiders enter 2014 as a bit of a mystery, but picked to finish last.

Here is a closer look at the AFC West teams as training camps begin (teams listed in alphabetical order):

CAMP PREVIEW: Denver Broncos

--TSX Predicts: 1st in AFC West

--2013: 13-3, 1st in AFC West; AFC Champion.

--Training Camp Dates (rookies, vets report): Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre, Englewood, Colo., 7/23, 7/23

--2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: Division .500 (15/32); non-division .613 (1/32); overall .570 (2/32).

--Primetime Games: 5 (1 Thursday, 3 Sunday night, 1 Monday night)

--STRENGTH: Quarterback Peyton Manning. As long as he is upright, the Broncos are a championship threat. In spite of being without six defensive starters and their starting left tackle by the AFC Championship Game, Manning was still able to lead the Broncos past the Patriots with a 400-yard day.

The Broncos showed last year that they had enough depth to get by, even without All-Pros Von Miller and Ryan Clady, who combined to miss 27 games in the regular season and playoffs. That was because Manning could

--WEAKNESS: Running back. It's not that starter Montee Ball is not capable. After overcoming fumbling issues in 2013, he had a higher per-carry average than then-first teamer Knowshon Moreno for the last five games of the regular season and through the playoffs. But the Broncos will platoon at least two runners a game this year, and nothing behind Ball is proven.

Third-year running back Ronnie Hillman has the draft pedigree, as a third-round pick in 2012, but has been a disappointment and was inactive throughout the Broncos' playoff run in January. C.J. Anderson, an undrafted rookie last year, passed Hillman on the depth chart; he is short but strong, and has potential. Three undrafted rookies and former Vikings camp hand Jerodis Williams round out the group. If the Broncos lose Ball, they're left with inexperience, and perhaps will have to seek a veteran still on the market out of necessity.



--CB Bradley Roby (1/31): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--WR Cody Latimer (2/56): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--T Michael Schofield (3/95): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--LB Lamin Barrow (5/156): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--C Matt Paradis (6/207): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--LB Corey Nelson (7/242): 4 yrs, terms unknown.


--WR Andre Caldwell: Potential UFA; $3.45M/2 yr.

--T Winston Justice: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.


--C Will Montgomery: FA Redskins; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--WR Emmanuel Sanders: UFA Steelers; $15M/3 yrs, $6M guaranteed.

--CB Aqib Talib: UFA Patriots; $57M/6 yrs, $5M SB/$26M guaranteed.

--S T.J. Ward: UFA Browns; $22.5M/4 yrs, $14M guaranteed.

--DE DeMarcus Ware: FA Cowboys; $30M/3 yrs, $20M guaranteed.


--S Mike Adams: Not tendered as UFA/Colts; terms unknown.

--DE Robert Ayers: UFA Giants; $4M/2 yrs, $1M SB/$1.75M guaranteed.

--CB Champ Bailey (released).

--G Zane Beadles: UFA Jaguars; $30M/5 yrs, $12.5M guaranteed.

--WR Eric Decker: UFA Jets; $36.25M/5 yrs, $7.5M SB/$15M guaranteed.

--KR/PR Trindon Holliday: Not tendered as ERFA/Giants; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--S Michael Huff (not tendered as UFA).

--CB Quentin Jammer (not tendered as UFA).

--G Chris Kuper (retired).

--LB Paris Lenon (not tendered as UFA).

--DE Jeremy Mincey: UFA Cowboys; $4.5M/2 yrs, $2M guaranteed.

--RB Knowshon Moreno: UFA Dolphins; $2M/1 yr, $500,000 SB/$1.25M guaranteed.

--DE Shaun Phillips: UFA Titans; $6M/2 yrs.

--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: UFA Giants; $35M/5 yrs, $10M SB/$13.98M guaranteed.

--LB Wesley Woodyard: UFA Titans; $16M/4 yrs.

CAMP PREVIEW: Kansas City Chiefs

--TSX Predicts: Tie for 2nd in AFC West

--2013: 11-5, 2nd in AFC West

--Training Camp Dates (rookies, vets report): Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, Mo., 7/20, 7/23

--2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: Division .542 (T11/32); non-division .569 (2/32); overall .559 (7/32).

--Primetime Games: 3 (1 Thursday, 1 Sunday night, 1 Monday night)

--STRENGTH: Linebacker. The power of the Chiefs roster can be seen in their three Pro Bowl linebackers -- Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston. The team added to this group 2014 first-round draft choice Dee Ford.

If Houston and the Chiefs work out a contract extension and the linebacker does not miss a lot of training camp time in a holdout, it will be hard for Ford to get a lot of snaps in the K.C. defense.

But the Auburn rookie -- a productive college defensive end-turned linebacker -- was so impressive in the team's offseason practices the coaching staff may not be able to keep him on the sidelines.

Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton will spend the pre-camp break brainstorming on schemes where Hali, Houston and Ford are rushing the passer together.

WEAKNESS: Wide receiver. The Chiefs have 12 wide receivers on the 90-man roster. Six have played at least one NFL game, but only two have more than 50 league appearances -- Dwayne Bowe (103) and Donnie Avery (71). Last season, the wide receivers accounted for 52 percent of the team's passing offense, with Bowe and Avery producing ordinary performances with just seven touchdown catches total and averaged only 13.1 yards per catch (91 receptions, 1,269 yards).

The Chiefs needed to be active adding receivers in free agency and the draft. Slot receiver Dexter McCluster signed with Tennessee in free agency. But the closest Kansas City came was selecting University of Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas in the fifth-round and he will play everywhere in head coach Andy Reid's offense, including wide receiver.

They added other bodies without NFL experience: 5-foot-7, 180-pound Weston Dressler from the Canadian Football League (98 games, 442 catches, 6,536 yards, 43 touchdowns) and Jerrell Jackson, who played 19 games in Arena Football. Apparently, the Chiefs could not afford NFL free-agent receivers.



--LB Dee Ford (1/23): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--CB Phillip Gaines (3/87): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--RB De'Anthony Thomas (4/124): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--QB Aaron Murray (5/163): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--G Zach Fulton (6/193): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (6/200): 4 yrs, terms unknown.


--S Husain Abdullah: UFA; terms unknown.

--LS Thomas Gafford: Potential UFA; $730,000/1 yr.

--LB Frank Zombo: Potential UFA; $1.625M/2 yrs, $100,000 SB.


--G/T Jeff Linkenbach: UFA Colts; terms unknown.

--DT Kyle Love: Not tendered as RFA by Jaguars; terms unknown.

--ILB Joe Mays: UFA Texans; $6M/2 yrs.

--CB Christopher Owens: UFA Dolphins; terms unknown.

--DT Vance Walker: UFA Raiders; $10.02M/3 yrs, $3M SB.

--OT J'Marcus Webb: UFA Vikings; terms unknown.


--T Branden Albert: UFA Dolphins; $46M/5 yrs, $8.5M SB/$25M guaranteed.

--G Jon Asamoah: UFA Falcons; $22.5M/5 yrs, $8M guaranteed.

--S Quintin Demps: UFA Giants; $1M/1 yr, $100,000 SB/$100,000 RB.

--CB Brandon Flowers (released).

--DT Tyson Jackson: UFA Falcons: $25M/5 yrs.

--S Kendrick Lewis: UFA Texans; $795,000/1 yr, $100,000 guaranteed.

--WR Dexter McCluster: UFA Titans; $12M/3 yrs, $4.5M guaranteed.

--CB Dunta Robinson (released).

--G Geoff Schwartz: UFA Giants; $16.8M/4 yrs, $3.2M SB/$6.2M guaranteed.

CAMP PREVIEW: Oakland Raiders

--TSX Predicts: 4th in AFC West

--2013: 4-12, 4th in AFC West

--Training Camp Dates (rookies, vets report): Napa Valley Marriott, Napa, Calif., 7/24, 7/24

--2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: Division .688 (2/32); non-division .513 (T13/32); overall .578 (1/32).

--Primetime Games: 1 (1 Thursday)

--STRENGTH: A refurbished front seven. The Raiders let their best defensive lineman get away in free agency and needed 15 different players to record 38 sacks, but rebuilt their front seven to the point where it is the strongest part of their team.

--WEAKNESS: Tight end. The only area the Raiders failed to address in the offseason was tight end. Second-year pro Mychal Rivera has the inside track to start based on 38 receptions for 407 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, Rivera is more of a receiver than a blocker and is often split wide and goes in motion.

David Ausberry, who spent most of last season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, has a similar skill set. Nick Kasa, in his second year out of Colorado, is in his third year at the position after being moved from the defensive line and is a project as an in-line tight end. Brian Leonhardt, on the practice squad last year, and undrafted free agents Jake Murphy and Scott Simonson round out the group.



--LB Khalil Mack (1/5): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--QB Derek Carr (2/36): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--G Gabe Jackson (3/81): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--DT Justin Ellis (4/107): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--CB Keith McGill (4/116): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--CB T.J. Carrie (7/219): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--DE Shelby Harris (7/235): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--S Jonathan Dowling (7/247): 4 yrs, terms unknown.


--G/T Khalif Barnes: Potential UFA; $1.2M/1 yrs, $100,000 SB.

--RB Darren McFadden: UFA; $1.75M/1 yr.

--DT Pat Sims: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--S Charles Woodson: UFA; $2.15M/1 yr, $1.15M guaranteed.


--OL Kevin Boothe: UFA Giants; $2.625M/2 yrs, $300,000 RB.

--CB Tarell Brown: UFA 49ers; $3.5M guaranteed/1 yr.

--T Austin Howard: UFA Jets; $30M/5 yrs, $15M guaranteed.

--WR James Jones: UFA Packers; $10M/3 yrs, $3.65M guaranteed.

--RB Maurice Jones-Drew: UFA Jaguars; $7.5M/3 yrs, $1.2M guaranteed RB.

--T Donald Penn: FA Buccaneers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

--CB Carlos Rogers: FA Redskins; terms unknown.

--QB Matt Schaub (trade Texans).

--DT Antonio Smith: UFA Texans; $9M/2 yrs.

--DE Justin Tuck: UFA Giants; $11M/2 yrs.

--LB LaMarr Woodley: FA Steelers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.


--G Mike Brisiel (released).

--WR Jacoby Ford: UFA Jets; $740,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.

--DE Lamarr Houston: UFA Bears; $35M.5 yrs, $4.95M SB/$15M guaranteed.

--CB Mike Jenkins: UFA Buccaneers; $1.5M/1 yr.

--RB Rashad Jennings: UFA Giants; $10M/4 yrs, $2.25M/SB/$2.98M guaranteed.

--TE Jeron Mastrud: Not tendered as UFA/Bears; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--T Tony Pashos (not tendered as UFA).

--CB Tracy Porter: UFA Redskins; terms unknown.

--QB Terrelle Pryor (traded Seahawks).

--T Jared Veldheer: UFA Cardinals; $35M/5 yrs, $6.25M SB/$17M guaranteed.

--DT Vance Walker: UFA Chiefs; $10.02M/3 yrs, $3M SB.

CAMP PREVIEW: San Diego Chargers

--TSX Predicts: Tie for 2nd in AFC West

--2013: 9-7, 3rd in AFC West

--Training Camp Dates (rookies, vets report): Chargers Park, San Diego, Calif., 7/23, 7/23

--2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: Division .583 (T6/32); non-division .563 (3/32); overall .563 (T4/32).

--Primetime Games: 4 (1 Thursday, 1 Saturday, 1 Sunday night, 1 Monday night)

--STRENGTH: Quarterback Philip Rivers and the passing game. With Mike McCoy being a head coach with an offensive bent, and Philips being one of the NFL's most accurate quarterbacks, it is obvious the Chargers will again lean on their passing game.

Rivers will have another year in McCoy's quick-strike, up-tempo system and he's got a favorite receiver, Malcom Floyd, back from injury.

The Chargers will preach offensive balance, but this squad will only go as far as its passing game takes it.

--WEAKNESS: Cornerback. It's no mystery why the Chargers spent their top pick on cornerback Jason Verrett, even if he does stand a mere 5-foot-9. The Chargers were last in the AFC defending the pass. Consider this: the Chargers' cornerbacks combined for three interceptions last year. Two of the players collecting them, Derek Cox and Johnny Patrick, are no longer with the club.

The position was helped with the June signing of Brandon Flowers, who had been released by division rival Kansas City. Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall will also competing for playing time.



--CB Jason Verrett (1/25): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--LB Jeremiah Attaochu (2/50): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--G Chris Watt (3/89): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--NT Ryan Carrethers (5/165); 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--RB Marion Grice (6/201): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--WR Tevin Reese (7/240): 4 yrs, terms unknown.


--LB Donald Butler: Potential UFA; $51.8M/7 yrs, $11.15M SB/$12M OB 2017.

--CB Richard Marshall: UFA; $855,000/1 yr.

--G Rich Ohrnberger: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--G/T Chad Rinehart: Potential UFA; $6M/2 yrs.

--S Darrell Stuckey: Potential UFA; terms unknown.

--ILB Reggie Walker: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.


--QB Kellen Clemens: UFA Rams; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

--CB Brandon Flowers: FA Chiefs; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--CB Brandon Ghee: UFA Bengals; $1.65M/2 yrs.

--TE David Johnson: UFA Steelers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.


--RB Ronnie Brown (not tendered as UFA).

--CB Derek Cox (released).

--FB Le'Ron McClain (released).

--DT Cam Thomas: UFA Steelers; $4M/2 yrs, $1M SB.

--QB Charlie Whitehurst: UFA Titans; $4.25M/2 yrs, $1M SB/$2M guaranteed.

-- TSX's network of NFL team writers contributed to this report.