Today's question: Who will be the division MVP?
Jeff Legwold, Denver Broncos reporter: It’s time to take Von Miller at his word. And Miller has said no matter what happened in his contract negotiations, he planned on showing up and playing the 2016 season to “prove it was not just a one-year thing.’’ He could have been talking about the Broncos’ Super Bowl win or the level of play he reached in the team’s postseason, a collection of sacks, forced fumbles and an interception of a Tom Brady pass that propelled the Broncos to the title. There is always a chance the Broncos and Miller’s representatives don’t get a deal done and Miller elects not to show up until Week 10 or so to play on the franchise tag. But logic, cooler heads and the realization of what cratering negotiations would mean to be Miller’s career and the morale in the Broncos’ locker room should prevail. The two sides should strike a deal that works. And if/when they do, it will set Miller free in Year 2 of Wade Phillips’ defense with the bulk of the defensive cast in place from last season. If none of the above happens, look for the Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack and quarterback Derek Carr to insert themselves into the conversation. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and Broncos running back C.J. Anderson could rise to that level as well if their teams around them do enough to help them flourish.
Adam Teicher, Kansas City Chiefs reporter: This depends on which team wins the division. If the Broncos are going to win the AFC West, it will be because of their defense, so if Denver wins, linebacker Von Miller is the MVP. If the Raiders win the division, it will be because they’ve scored a lot of points, so if Oakland wins, quarterback Derek Carr is the MVP. In Kansas City, it stands to reason the defense will take a step back after losing cornerback Sean Smith and given the uncertainty regarding linebacker Justin Houston’s availability. So if the Chiefs win the division, they’ll be improved offensively and I’ll go with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. In the unlikely event the Chargers win the AFC West, the MVP couldn’t be anyone other than quarterback Philip Rivers.
Paul Gutierrez, Oakland Raiders reporter: Von Miller’s showing as Super Bowl 50 MVP with 2.5 sacks for 27 yards, including a pair of game-changing strip sacks of Cam Newton, six tackles, two quarterback hits and a pass defensed should carry over to this season, no? Well, not if a contract squabble becomes a major distraction for the linebacker and team or if a Super Bowl hangover of epic proportions envelops the champs. But Miller, helped by the presence of DeMarcus Ware on the other side, is more than the most feared player in the AFC West; he is also the most productive, so to speak. His 60 sacks in 72 career games -- with 25 in the past two seasons -- give opposing offensive coordinators sleepless nights, and that’s before you realize he’s averaged 14.5 sacks the three times he played in all 16 games. Division MVP? Miller, so long as all is right with his body and mind, has a chance to battle it out for league MVP with Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.
Eric Williams, San Diego Chargers reporter: Oakland Raiders receiver Amari Cooper should take another step in his development, and it’s hard to bet against consistent performers like Von Miller and Philip Rivers. But I believe Jamaal Charles will have a bounce-back year in 2016. Charles, of course, suffered a season-ending ACL knee injury in 2015, but at 29 years old, the Texas native still has plenty of gas left in the tank. Chiefs coach Andy Reid wants to run the football, which means Charles should get plenty of touches, both as a runner and in the passing game. Kansas City also has plenty of depth at running back in Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, so Charles should not wear down during the year.