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- Major Questions in the AFC: Chargers Undefeated?

Chris Pokorny July 14, 2007
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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This season, the AFC is home to the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Indianapolis Colts. Although the Colts were fortunate that LaDainian Tomlinson and the No. 1 seeded San Diego Chargers were eliminated before they had a chance to face off, the Colts are still the team to beat in the AFC. Last year saw the rise of the New York Jets under head coach Eric Mangini and the stunning absence from the postseason for the Cincinnati Bengals. After all of the moves that have taken place in the offseason, let's take a look at five major questions heading into training camp for the AFC:

1. Can Trent Green Elevate the Miami Dolphins?

Prior to last season, the Dolphins were actually pegged as legitimate Super Bowl contenders, a major reason that they were chosen to participate in the first game of the season. Unfortunately, Daunte Culpepper turned out to be a huge disappointment, and Joey Harrington failed to impress thereafter. Once again, it was another season of disarray at the quarterback position for the Dolphins. This year, Miami went out and acquired disgruntled quarterback Trent Green from the Kansas City Chiefs. Green posted tremendous overall numbers during his stay with the Chiefs, despite never having a top caliber receiver with the exception of tight end Tony Gonzalez.

In Miami, Green will not have his favorite tight end to throw to, but he'll have solid options at wide receiver. Chris Chambers still has a great deal of talent, and rookie Ted Ginn Jr. will be a deep threat to go along with veteran Marty Booker. Although it seems unlikely that Green will turn the Dolphins into a powerhouse, he may very well be the man that can move the ball just enough to finally give the defense the breathing room they've been asking for.

2. Can Chad Pennington Avoid Controversy Again?

Although the New York Jets made the postseason last year, there were still skeptics that believed the team could have gone further with better play at the quarterback position. Overall, at least in my opinion, Pennington did everything he needed to do to save his job - he led a football team that was projected as a guaranteed fourth-place finisher into the playoffs. Now that the expectations are raised though, Pennington will have to do everything in his power to make sure that he steps his gameplay up to another level this season. With the addition of veteran running back Thomas Jones and the selection of cornerback Darrelle Revis during the first round of the draft, the Jets took the proper steps towards improving upon their weaknesses from a season ago.

3. Can the Pittsburgh Steelers Avoid Tanking?

The Steelers had not had a coaching change for a very long time. Bill Cowher retired after the team underachieved last season after failing to even make the postseason after winning the Super Bowl the year before. With new head coach Mike Tomlin in the mix and several of Cowher's former assistants heading elsewhere, it's difficult to determine whether or not a period of adjustment will be necessary for the Steelers.

Ben Roethlisberger threw a career-high 23 interceptions last year to only 18 touchdowns, although many of his shortcomings were attributed to his motorcycle accident prior to the start of the season. The Steelers did have one bright spot last year with the late emergence of rookie receiver Santonio Holmes. Holmes had some miscommunications with Roethlisberger early on in the season, but finally began to thrive in the end, including the final play of the season - a 67-yard touchdown reception to prevent the Cincinnati Bengals from making the postseason. The Steelers will need to fill the void left by linebacker Joey Porter, a player that was often considered the face of the team's defense. Most of all, the Steelers will need stronger play from their secondary, especially after the team failed to draft a cornerback back in April.

4. Will the Tennessee Titans Stun the Colts?

The Colts did very little to improve their run defense in the offseason, which leaves a window of opportunity for Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans to continue their hot streak from last season. The Titans actually suffered two setbacks in the offseason, losing the idiotic, but extremely talented, Adam "Pacman" Jones to suspension and running back Travis Henry to free agency. Although Young was the architect behind most of the Titans' victories to close out the season, Jones was the leader on the other side of the ball and on special teams. The Titans will be forced to rely on new players to make the same type of impact that Jones and Henry made last year.

The Titans added veteran cornerback Nick Harper to their roster, and will likely be forced to shift rookie safety Michael Griffin into the other starting role. The chemistry hasn't been solidified for the two newcomers, but if both men are able to do a manageable job, the loss of Jones can be averted for the time being. At running back, it'll be a three-way dogfight between LenDale White, Chris Brown, and rookie Chris Henry. Henry may actually have the best shot at winning the job, although White could have the most potential if he gets his act together. Either way, the Titans will be a team that everyone will be interested in watching this season.

5. How Does 16-0 Sound for the Chargers?

The team to beat may be the Colts, but the Chargers are still stacked with talent at every position on the team. After finishing the season at 14-2 last year, it often seemed like it simply came too easy for the Chargers. Philip Rivers will basically be entering his second season as a quarterback in an offense that should be just as successful as last year with LaDainian Tomlinson, Vincent Jackson, and Antonio Gates in the mix. The defense didn't receive any downgrades either, and even added rookie cornerback Eric Weddle in the early part of the second round of the draft. Projecting a team to go undefeated in the NFL is always a reach due to the "any given day" philosophy, but San Diego can go the distance in a division with three other teams that do not match up nearly as well.

Do you have an opinion on this article? Do you want direct fantasy football advice from one of our writers? You can e-mail us at pokorny@pfcritics.com. Be sure to label your subject line appropriately so we don't think it is spam. Please include your name (can be a screename), city and state. We guarantee a response to any questions or comments you have, and will publish them in our next mailbag session if appropriate.
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