Denver Broncos

1998 result: 14-2, first in division (defeated Dolphins in AFC semifinals, Jets in AFC championship, Falcons in Super Bowl).

Coach: Mike Shanahan, 47-17 in four seasons with Broncos (55-29 in six seasons overall).

Key acquisitions: CB Dale Carter (Chiefs), QB Chris Miller (out of football), DE Carl Reeves (Bears), LB Al Wilson (first-round draft pick, Tennessee).

Key losses: QB John Elway (retired), S Steve Atwater (Jets), CB Darrien Gordon (Raiders), T Harry Swayne (Ravens).

Outlook: Elway's retirement left the Broncos in an unusual situation. They are without the player who took them to two consecutive championships -- but arguably remain the NFL's best team, even with second-year QB Brian Griese. They return just about everyone from last season and add a player (Carter) who should have a big impact on what was the league's 26th-ranked pass defense. So why shouldn't the Broncos become the first team to win three straight Super Bowls? It remains to be seen if Griese can perform or, if backup Bubby Brister will be effective if needed after losing the starting job in preseason. RB Terrell Davis (who carried the ball an AFC-record 392 times last season for 2,008 yards and 21 TDs, and caught 25 passes for 217 more yards and 2 TDs) again will see the ball often.

Schedule

September

13 Miami, 9

19 at Kansas City, 4:15

26 at Tampa Bay, 1

October

3 N.Y. Jets, 4:15

10 at Oakland, 4:15

17 Green Bay, 4:15

24 at New England, 1

31 Minnesota, 4:15

November

7 at San Diego, 4:15

14 at Seattle, 8:20

22 Oakland, 9

28 Open date

December

5 Kansas City, 4:15

13 at Jacksonville, 9

19 Seattle, 4:15

25 at Detroit, 4:15

January

2 San Diego, 4:15

Kansas City Chiefs

1998 result: 7-9, fourth in division.

Coach: Gunther Cunningham, first NFL season.

Key acquisitions: CB Cris Dishman (Redskins), LB Marvcus Patton (Redskins), QB Warren Moon (Seahawks), TE Lonnie Johnson (Bills), CB Carlton Gray (Giants), RB Mike Cloud (second-round pick, Boston College), P Danny Pope (free agent).

Key losses: CB Dale Carter (Broncos), QB Rich Gannon (Raiders), LB Anthony Davis (Packers), T Jeff Criswell (retired).

Outlook: The once-proud Chiefs were an embarassment, finishing with their worst record in 10 years after a 4-1 start was followed by a six-game losing streak. They committed a NFL-record 158 penalties, and former coach Marty Schottenheimer stepped down. QB Elvis Grbac (53.1 QB rating) looked lost in a West Coast-style offense, so Cunningham will scrap that in favor of the running game. But Bam Morris is unlikely to lead a potent ground game, so Kimble Anders or Cloud will get an opportunity. On defense, the Chiefs will scrap Schotten-heimer's "Falcon" defense in favor of a 4-3 scheme, giving LB Derrick Thomas the chance to return to pass-rushing instead of being the designated run-stopper he was last season. The secondary suffered with Carter's departure -- to a division rival, no less -- but the Chiefs think Dishman can compensate.

Schedule

September

12 at Chicago, 1

19 Denver, 4:15

26 Detroit, 1

October

3 at San Diego, 4:15

10 New England, 1

17 Open date

21 at Baltimore, 8:20

31 San Diego, 1

November

7 at Indianapolis, 1

14 at Tampa Bay, 1

21 Seattle, 1

28 at Oakland, 4:15

December

5 at Denver, 4:15

12 Minnesota, 8:20

18 Pittsburgh, 12:40

26 at Seattle, 4:05

January

2 Oakland, 1

Oakland Raiders

1998 result: 8-8, second in division.

Coach: Jon Gruden, 8-8 in one season with the Raiders.

Key acquisitions: FB Zack Crockett (Colts), QB Rich Gannon (Chiefs), CB Darrien Gordon (Broncos), OL Greg Skrepenak (Panthers), QB Bobby Hoying (Eagles), T Matt Stinchcomb (first-round draft pick, Georgia), DE Tony Bryant (second-round pick, Florida State).

Key losses: QB Jeff George (Vikings), S Albert Lewis (retired), KR Desmond Howard (Packers).

Outlook: S Eric Turner got hurt in last season's sixth game, and CB Eric Allen in the 10th, leaving rookie CB Charles Woodson to fend for himself. He performed admirably, but the Raiders lost five of their final six games after a 7-3 start. All are healthy, and Gordon should make the secondary even stronger. After a mediocre offensive season in 1998, the Raiders are placing their hopes on Gannon, 33, who threw for a career-high 2,446 yards, and RB Napoleon Kaufman, who rushed for 917 yards in 13 games. The wide receivers are a question mark. WR Tim Brown has lost a step, and TE Rickey Dudley often was called to help the beleagured offensive line, which gave up an NFL-worst 67 sacks last season. Five of the Raiders' first eight games are against 1998 playoff teams.

Schedule

September

12 at Green Bay, 1

19 at Minnesota, 1

26 Chicago, 4:15

October

3 at Seattle, 8:20

10 Denver, 4:15

17 at Buffalo, 1

24 N.Y. Jets, 4:15

31 Miami, 4:05

November

7 Open date

14 San Diego, 4:05

22 at Denver, 9

28 Kansas City, 4:15

December

5 Seattle, 4:15

9 at Tennessee, 8:20

19 Tampa Bay, 4:05

26 at San Diego, 4:05

January

2 at Kansas City, 1

San Diego Chargers

1998 result: 5-11, fifth in division.

Coach: Mike Riley, first NFL season.

Key acquisitions: WR Jeff Graham (Bears), QB Jim Harbaugh (Ravens), QB Erik Kramer (Bears), LB Eric Hill (Rams).

Key losses: DE Marco Coleman (Redskins), G Raleigh McKenzie (Packers), QB Craig Whelihan (released).

Outlook: After firing Kevin Gilbride after six games last season, the club hired Riley from Oregon State. He also has been head coach in the Canadian Football League and in the World League. His primary job will be to revive an offense that was so bad last season, it nullified a punishing defense that ranked first in the league overall and against the run. Thanks in part to the unmitigated failure of first-round draft choice, QB Ryan Leaf, the Chargers averaged just 15 points per game last season. With Leaf out of the picture this season because of injury, the hard-working Harbaugh will get the nod. He won't make as many mistakes as Leaf or Whelihan did, and he'll get some help if RB Natrone Means stays healthy for the whole season. But the Chargers still are lacking at wide receiver. The addition of Graham should help. The defense, led by LB Junior Seau, 313-pound DT Norman Hand and 300-pound DT John Parrella, again should be strong.

Schedule

September

12 Open date

19 at Cincinnati, 1

26 Indianapolis, 4:05

October

3 Kansas City, 4:15

10 at Detroit, 1

17 Seattle, 4:05

24 Green Bay, 4:05

31 at Kansas City, 1

November

7 Denver, 4:15

14 at Oakland, 4:05

21 Chicago, 4:15

28 at Minnesota, 1

December

5 Cleveland, 4:15

12 at Seattle, 4:05

19 at Miami, 1

26 Oakland, 4:05

January

2 at Denver, 4:15

Seattle Seahawks

1998 result: 8-8, second in division.

Coach: Mike Holmgren, first season with Seahawks (75-37 in seven seasons overall).

Key acquisitions: WR Sean Dawkins (Saints), QB Glenn Foley (Jets), WR Derrick Mayes (Packers), LB James Willis (Eagles), DE Lamar King (first-round draft pick, Saginaw Valley).

Key losses: QB Warren Moon (Chiefs), WR James McKnight (Cowboys), T Howard Ballard (retired).

Outlook: If anyone can turn around a team that hasn't reached the playoffs since 1988, it's Holmgren, who takes over for Dennis Erickson. In 1992, Holmgren took over a Green Bay team that hadn't been to the playoffs in 10 years and made the Packers perennial contenders and eventually Super Bowl champions. He has decided that Jon Kitna, with only six career NFL starts, is Seattle's quarterback of the future. RB Ricky Watters has shed about 20 pounds since last season and loves the West Coast offense. Dawkins was a smart acquisition, since WR Joey Galloway is holding out and might not be ready for the opener. The defensive line is terrific, leading the team to an AFC-best 53 sacks last season -- an NFL-best 16A by DE Michael Sinclair. But they still managed to give up 356 yards per game (27th in the league), mostly because it was on the field so much.

Schedule

September

12 Detroit, 4:15

19 at Chicago, 1

26 at Pittsburgh, 1

October

3 Oakland, 8:20

10 Open date

17 at San Diego, 4:05

24 Buffalo, 4:15

November

1 at Green Bay, 9

7 Cincinnati, 4:15

14 Denver, 8:20

21 at Kansas City, 1

28 Tampa Bay, 4:05

December

5 at Oakland, 4:15

12 San Diego, 4:05

19 at Denver, 4:15

26 Kansas City, 4:05

January

2 at New York Jets, 1