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American Conference

Times staff writer Sam Farmer ranks the conference 1-16:

September 01, 2007|Sam Farmer

1. San Diego Chargers

* Chargers can prove they're legitimate Super Bowl

contenders, and Norv

Turner can prove he's a

legitimate head

coach.

2. New England Patriots

* If the Patriots can squeeze the most out of Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth, defenses are in trouble.

3. Indianapolis Colts

* With Peyton Manning in charge, the Colts should be able to avoid the Super Bowl hangover that hits a lot of defending champions.

4. Baltimore Ravens

* The Ravens have looked especially sharp this summer, although losing linebacker Adalius Thomas is a big blow to the defense.

5. Denver Broncos

* Broncos were battered by injuries in training camp -- including nagging soreness

in Jay Cutler's throwing wrist.

6. New York Jets

* Chad Pennington will get one more chance to prove he's the answer at quarterback for a franchise on the rise.

7. Cincinnati Bengals

* Carson Palmer is one of the NFL's best quarterbacks. It would be nice if the Bengals could provide him with a defense.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers

* This season hinges on Ben Roethlisberger. Can he return to the form of his first two seasons, or will this be a replay of 2006?

9. Kansas City Chiefs

* No matter who starts at quarterback -- for now, Damon Huard has the edge over Brodie Croyle -- it could be another 400-carry season for Larry Johnson.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars

* The Jaguars can run and stop the run. Now, they have to get their passing game on track.

11. Buffalo Bills

* The Bills, who started five rookies last season, are loaded with promising but inexperienced talent.

Rookie running back Marshawn Lynch could be very good.

12. Tennessee Titans

* Vince Young surprised a lot of people with his performance last season. The Titans, though, lost some key players in free agency.

13. Cleveland Browns

* Brady Quinn has been an early bright spot, but the Browns have been 1-11 in

the division the last two seasons.

14. Miami Dolphins

* Although very good on defense, the Dolphins can't seem to get their act together on the other side of the ball. Maybe Trent Green will be the answer.

15. Oakland Raiders

* Lane Kiffin's No. 1 challenge: Turning around an offense that ranked last

in yards and scoring. At least he has a defense.

16. Houston Texans

* Matt Schaub finally gets his chance, but he'll be playing behind an offensive line that usually lets its quarterback get pulverized.

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