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Published on 08/31/2010 at Tue Aug 31 20:51.
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enter J.D. Walton #50 of the Denver Broncos leads the offensive line as he prepares snap the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 29, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Steelers 34-17. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Center J.D. Walton (#50) of the Denver Broncos prepares to snap the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a preseason game in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Broncos haven’t earned an AFC West Championship since 2005, coming in 2nd place in all but one season since then. Nevertheless, with new weapons and a weak division, the ‘West may finally be back in the Broncos’ reach.

Last off-season nearly every NFL season preview had the Broncos ranking near the bottom of the AFC West, even ESPN agreed with that assumption. NFL Analyst John Clayton predicted the Broncos to finish 3-13, a harsh prediction many other NFL crystal gazers agreed with. The Broncos wound up finishing 8-8 for the second straight year.

The experts are now at it again, predicting the Broncos to finish 6-10 (most predictions I’ve seen have been about six wins or worse). By my calculations, if Denver was supposed to finish 3-13 last season and finished 8-8, and are supposed to finish 6-10 this year, they’ll go 12-4. And with the Chargers seemingly on the decline, it might not even take that many wins to win the division, writes Mark Kiszla.

“Josh McDaniels can get there [to the Playoffs] during his second season as coach in Denver.

It wouldn’t take a miracle … San Diego has lost its mojo, Kansas City isn’t quite ready for prime time and Oakland remains hopelessly lost in an Al Davis time warp,” said Kiszla in his latest Denver Post article.

“Nothing much is expected of the Broncos in 2010, which, in an odd way, passes for progress. A year ago, Denver was believed to be a disaster waiting to happen.”

So there you have it, the Chargers aren’t the prolific offense they once were and certainly won’t be if they are truly serious about trading star wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Granted, the Chargers will have another good statistical offensive season, but I don’t believe the Broncos are as far behind them as they once were (once were meaning last season). Then comes the Chiefs, who, for the past two seasons have been way overrated going into the season. After trading for Matt Cassel, the Chiefs were finally ready to turn it around. Four wins and twelve loses later, KC fans got a glimpse of reality. Finally, there’s the Raiders, who have finished last in the AFC West since 1923 (that’s an exaggeration).

With the rest of the Division not looking so hot, I believe this the Broncos chance to snatch the Division Title. In order to do so though, the Broncos must ‘find their identity’.

“The identity we want to have is a tough team that knows how to finish and get the job done,” Ayers said.

Find an identity and the Broncos will find themselves in the playoffs.

As is the case for every NFL team every season, the Broncos will need some players to step up, stay healthy (and have the depth to replace injured players), win at home, play solid defense, and have the ball bounce their way a few times to win their division – but that’s all.

I honestly do think the Broncos can win the division this season, I’m not expecting it (I’m expected 9-10 wins), but I do think they are capable of doing it. How about you, do you think the Broncos can take the division from the Chargers in 2010?

Playoffs?! Yep, Broncos can win the West [The Denver Post]

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