Denver Broncos (8-3)
Adding Peyton Manning; subtracting Tim Tebow. It’s hard to remember when those moves seemed risky. But Tebow had just led the Broncos to the playoffs, and no one knew if Manning could still play at the top level after four surgeries and a year off.
Well, no worries for Denver boss John Elway, who could get Denver back to the Super Bowl from the front office, after five trips as a player.
And there’s Manning right back near the top of the passing rating charts (trailing only Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady), and coolly leading the Broncs to six straight wins.
Oh, and the defense is really good, too.
Playoff Snapshot: Denver is certainly playoff bound, and in the hunt for a first-week bye. An all-Manning Super Bowl can’t be ruled out.
San Diego Chargers (4-7)
The window may be closing on Philip Rivers’ chances to lead the Chargers to the Super Bowl. After a 3-1 start against middling competition, San Diego has gone 1-6, with its only win over the hopeless Chiefs.
The Chargers finish against some of the worst teams (Panthers, Jets, Raiders), so a late run isn’t out of the question, but Rivers would have be dazzling, and so far he’s just been above-average.
Playoff Snapshot: Still alive, but an extreme long shot.
Oakland Raiders (3-8)
Carson Palmer has thrown for over 3,000 yards and 18 touchdowns, and that pretty much qualifies as the only bright spot for the Raiders. When your quarterback ranks No. 20 in the league in passer rating, and that’s your only bright spot, then you know you’re not exactly having a great season.
But there is one other bright spot: They aren’t the Chiefs.
Playoff Snapshot: No chance.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-10)
Could it get any worse for Kansas City? No, it’s hard to imagine how. After a complete, complete, complete disaster of a season on the field, the Chiefs now face one of the very worst off-field incidents in the history of the NFL.
If they can overcome that, they still have only six passing touchdowns for the entire season. Six!
At least running back Jamaal Charles has been good, but he’s not a one-man band.
Playoff Snapshot: Playoffs, no prayer. But plenty of prayers needed ... in addition to the No. 1 draft choice.