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Each NFL Team’s Difference-Maker: AFC West

XN Sports looks at the most indispensable players for each team in the AFC West.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub
Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

We’re merely 25 days from the start of the 2014 NFL season. Since the start of camp we have reviewed the top storylines from training camps across the NFL, providing who is impressing, who is disappointing, and any other significant notes from on and off the field.

Given the news coming out of camps, XN Sports will be naming one difference-maker for each team. Saturday marks the AFC West and NFC West, and the rest of the links are listed below.

Aug 6.: AFC East

Aug. 6: NFC East

Aug. 7: AFC North

Aug. 7: NFC North

Aug. 8: AFC South

Aug. 8: NFC South

Aug. 9: NFC West

Denver Broncos, DeMarcus Ware

Nobody is concerned with the Broncos’ offense, at least as long as Peyton Manning is at the helm. But the Broncos pulled off the heist of the offseason when they robbed the Cowboys of their top pass-rusher, DeMarcus Ware.

Ware is going to prove that 2013 was a flukey, injury riddled season. Alongside Von Miller, Ware has the ability to give Denver a relentless pass rush, arguably the best in the AFC and among the league’s best.

Kansas City Chiefs, The trio of Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker and Husain Abdullah

The Chiefs’ defense was the reason why the team was unbeaten midway through the season and assured itself a spot in the playoffs. Down the stretch, the defense was the reason for its demise.

Gone is Brandon Flowers, who didn’t fit well with the defensive scheme. But left is a host of no-names in a secondary aside from Eric Berry.

In a division with Manning and Philip Rivers, Kansas City is relying on Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker and Husain Abdullah to defend the pass.

Oakland Raiders, Matt Schaub

Oakland’s search for a stable quarterback behind center continues into 2014. Now it’s up to Matt Schaub to lead the offense as he tries to revive his NFL career. But not only is Schaub fighting for his job, he has to hold off rookie Derek Carr.

Schaub is coming off a forgettable 2013 campaign, but has some weapons to work with in Andre Holmes and Rod Streater. The Raiders need Schaub as much as Schaub needs the Raiders.

San Diego Chargers, Jason Verrett

The weak link in San Diego last season was the secondary. In 2013 the secondary finished as the fourth-worst in the NFL.

The team added a pair of new cornerbacks in Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers, who was released by the Chiefs. Verrett was one of the most highly touted corners in the draft class, and Flowers finds himself in a prove-it sort of campaign.

Already, the unit looks stronger than it did a season ago.

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