- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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One player to watch for each AFC West team in Week 1.
Denver: quarterback Peyton Manning: I’d love to be creative here, but it wouldn’t be the truth if I picked anyone else. When the Broncos host Pittsburgh in Week 1, all eyes will be on Manning. It will be his first game as a Bronco -- and his first game since the 2010 playoffs, when he was a member of the Colts. He missed all of last season with a neck injury. This is a big deal, folks.
Kansas City: linebacker Justin Houston: The Chiefs will need a pass-rush burst against Atlanta’s Matt Ryan with Tamba Hali serving a one-game NFL suspension and with injuries in the secondary. Houston showed great potential last season and served as a nice complement to Hali. For this game, Houston will need to be the main pass-rusher from the edge. If not, Ryan and the Falcons receivers could have a big game.
Oakland: running back Darren McFadden: McFadden makes the Raiders go. He was lost in the seventh game of the last season with a foot injury, and the Raiders were never the same. McFadden is healed and looked great this summer. If the Raiders are going to beat the Chargers on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” McFadden will need a big game.
San Diego, quarterback Philip Rivers: Rivers was hammered in November as the Raiders' strong defensive line battered a broken San Diego offensive line. Monday night, Rivers will face Oakland without left tackle Jared Gaither. Instead, undrafted rookie Mike Harris will protect Rivers’ blind side. Rivers is in a tough spot. Rivers threw 20 interceptions last year and he threw four this preseason. He isn’t going to have a bunch of time in this game. He can’t afford to make poor throwing choices.
One player to watch for each AFC West team in Week 1.Denver: quarterback Peyton Manning: I’d love to be creative here, but it wouldn’t be the truth if I picked anyone else.