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Chargers team to beat in AFC West

8/17/2011
Philip Rivers has more weapons around him this season in San Diego. Christopher Hanewinckel/US Presswire

Adam Schefter answers readers' questions twice a week in his blog. Got a query of your own? Submit it here.


Q: The Kansas City Chiefs seemed to address a big flaw in their offense, the inability to stretch defenses, by signing Steve Breaston and drafting Jonathan Baldwin. Do you think they have enough to repeat as AFC West champs?

-- Paul (Calif.)

A: It will be challenging, Paul, not because of Kansas City, but because of the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers had so many special teams gaffes last year, and beat themselves so often, that they still pose to the biggest challenge to the Chiefs. Last season, all that could've gone wrong for San Diego, did -- and the Chiefs had to hold on to narrowly edge the Chargers. If the Chargers play up to their capabilities, they're going to be tough to beat out in the AFC West. They have the best quarterback and the most talent. Saying that, the Chiefs have done a very good job rebuilding their roster and putting themselves in position to compete.


Q: What do you think has been the most significant injury so far during preseason?

-- Sam (D.C.)

A: The interesting part, Sam, is there hasn't been that headline-making injury that usually comes out of the preseason. There were some injuries, but it's more along the lines of injuries that have been suffered through the early part of camp. Plaxico Burress' ankle, John Beck's groin and the most noteworthy without question, Mikel Leshoure's Achilles. That was the most significant injury so far. Leshoure could've really helped the Lions this season. Now he's already on injured reserve, out for the year.


Q: The Baltimore Ravens seem to have improved enough (especially with recent trade for WR Lee Evans) to overtake the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North. Do you think they're now the favorites to win that division?

-- Kurt (Md.)

A: Doesn't matter which team is the favorite, Kurt. Your initial point is the more significant one. The Ravens have done enough to improve their team and give them the chance to overtake the Steelers. The acquisition of Evans is going to be a big one. He still can stretch the field be a top-flight wide receiver. He will make Anquan Boldin that much more dangerous, and Boldin and Evans will make Ray Rice that much more effective. Last season, Pittsburgh beat Baltimore in the AFC Championship behind the strength of some big passing plays. Baltimore knew it needed to make more of those, which is why they went out and acquired Evans.


Q:
Why weren't the Dallas Cowboys more aggressive in picking up a proven wide receiver in free agency?

-- Rick (Tex.)

A: How could they have been, Rick? They were right up against the salary cap, trying to keep their defensive line intact, trying to upgrade at safety and doing whatever they could to improve their team. On the list of priorities, adding another wide receiver was not -- and should not have been -- very high. They already are paying big money to Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. They could use some depth with Kevin Ogletree and Jesse Holley as the backups, but again it comes down to priorities, and Dallas' were not at wide receiver.


Q: Do you think the Steelers' offensive line is strong enough to help them get back to the Super Bowl? Is that the weakest link on that team?

-- Jenny (Penn.)

A: As many questions as the Steelers' offensive line has had in recent seasons, Jenny, it usually has been stout enough to get the job done. It's not the most talented unit in the league, but it's a scrappy unit with a Pro Bowl center. To me, the Steelers have more questions at cornerback, especially since the Ravens have added some wide receivers. The Steelers need Ike Taylor to get healthy and they need their secondary to play well. The Steelers' depth at running back is also a question. But every team has questions, and Pittsburgh, one of the perennially tough NFL teams, has fewer questions than most.