Despite regularly getting off to slow starts, the San Diego Chargers have won four consecutive AFC West titles.
Is this the season that changes?
By all indications, the division has gotten tougher, especially now that Oakland has cut ties with quarterback JaMarcus Russell and moved on to capable Jason Campbell.
Denver, meanwhile, has blown chances to run away with the division the last two years and is looking to finally close the deal.
As for Kansas City, the Chiefs are trying to re-create the New England model with several former Patriots fixtures, among them General Manager Scott Pioli, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Anything to jump-start a franchise that has won no more than four games in any of the last three seasons.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, for one, thinks play will be more competitive within the division this season.
"I think all four teams are going to be a little closer throughout the season," he said. "It's going to take longer for the picture to take shape. You knew going in in years past who had a chance and who didn't. I think now it will take until the midway mark to see who is in this thing."
Can the Chargers finally get off to a good start, or is this another season when they will have to make up ground? Is the team better off without LaDainian Tomlinson being such a big part of the offense? Can receivers Malcolm Floyd, Buster Davis and Legedu Naanee make up for the absence of Vincent Jackson? Who is going to step in and play left tackle if Marcus McNeill isn't there? Can the Chargers stop the run?
Rookies: Sunday. Veterans: Friday, in San Diego.
How will the Broncos use Tim Tebow in the early going, and is there a good chance that he will wind up under center for them this season? Will defensive tackle Jamal Williams make San Diego pay for letting him wind up with a division rival? For years, the offensive line has been a strength for the Broncos. How will it fare with two rookies starting? Who can step up and fill the receiving void left by Brandon Marshall?
Rookies: Monday. Veterans: July 31, in Englewood, Colo.
Campbell seldom had solid blind-side protection in Washington; does he have it now with John Henderson (who had a shaky 2009)? How much can Michael Bush's power running help what figures to be an upgraded passing game? How much can heavy-hitting rookie linebacker Rolando McClain help a 29th-ranked run defense, and will he come off the field in passing situations? Is this the year the Raiders close the gap on San Diego and Denver?
Rookies and veterans: Wednesday, in Napa, Calif.
Matt Cassel was widely expected to go through a bumpy transition period in going from New England to Kansas City, and he did. This season, will he be more of the quarterback he was with the Patriots? Linebacker Derrick Johnson finished the 2009 season strong (two interception returns for touchdowns against Denver). Will he carry that momentum into this season? Will Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles be a formidable running back tandem?
Rookies and veterans: Thursday, in St. Joseph, Mo.