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With Peyton Manning retired, can Chargers reclaim AFC West?

Good morning.

Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune examines the San Diego Chargers’ chances of reclaiming the AFC West crown now that future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning has retired from the Denver Broncos.

The Chargers had won four straight AFC West titles from 2006 to 2009. After Manning arrived in 2012, the Broncos reeled off four straight AFC West titles. Manning had an 8-1 record against the Chargers while with the Broncos, including a playoff victory following the 2013 season.

Krasovic writes that Denver finished 45-12 with Manning and won a Super Bowl. That’s a pretty good investment by Broncos head personnel man John Elway.

With Manning gone, Rivers returns as the dean of AFC West quarterbacks.

My take: As Krasovic notes, Rivers can’t do all of the heavy lifting. The Chargers need an improved running game and more dominant defense in order for Rivers to lead them out of the AFC West cellar.

Nate Davis of USA Today predicts that the Chargers will finish 6-10 this season and occupy the AFC West cellar for a second straight season. Davis: “They couldn’t establish the run or stop it in 2015, factors that coupled to create quite a burden on 34-year-old QB Philip Rivers. It's far from certain the Bolts will be much better in those departments in 2016 — not good considering every other roster in the division looks superior to San Diego’s.”

My take: Davis has the Oakland Raiders finishing 10-6 and winning the division. I would be more surprised if that happened than the Chargers finishing last in the AFC West.

Ricky Henne of Chargers.com writes that one of the things to watch during training camp is the three-man competition for the backup quarterback job behind Rivers between incumbent Kellen Clemons and newcomers Zach Mettenberger and Mike Bercovici.

My take: Clemens is the leader in the clubhouse right now. Mettenberger has the biggest arm and Bercovici seems to have that knack of leading a team.

ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen details the struggles in making a transition from the NFL to a regular job.

My take: With the recent retirements by NFL players, Bowen provides some interesting perspective on what those players are going through as they conclude their playing careers.