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Von Miller Suspension Opens Door for Kansas City Chiefs in AFC West

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | With the suspension of Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller now official, it would seem that a 2013 AFC West title is a bit more within reach for the rest of the division.

The Kansas City Chiefs, specifically, look to take advantage after an offseason that has favorably positioned the organization to put last season's awful showing in the rear-view mirror.

In violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy (previous link for specifics), Miller will miss the first six games of the regular season. The Broncos will be without the NFL's 2012 Defensive MVP runner-up (J.J. Watt won the award) for matchups against the Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants (road), Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys (road) and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Miller, who has become one of the league's premier pass-rushing specialists in just two seasons with Denver (30 sacks in 31 career games), will return for Week 7's road contest with the Indianapolis Colts.

Though the Chiefs do not have the fortune of drawing the Broncos while Miller is sidelined, Denver will have a much tougher task of running away with the division this season.

The Broncos swept the season series in the AFC West in 2012, on their way to winning the division by six games.

Denver has also been hit with the injury bug this offseason (Champ Bailey, Derek Wolfe and Stewart Bradley), in addition to the loss of Elvis Dumervil to the Baltimore Ravens in free agency. While it is not known how much (if any) time will be missed by this group, the sudden misfortune is cause for concern.

The Chiefs underwent a changing of the guard this offseason, bringing in many new faces in key spots -- including general manager John Dorsey (Green Bay Packers), head coach Andy Reid (Eagles), quarterback Alex Smith (San Francisco 49ers), cornerbacks Sean Smith (Miami Dolphins) and Dunta Robinson (Atlanta Falcons), and the No. 1 overall pick, offensive tackle Eric Fisher.

In addition to the new faces, Kansas City returns a talented roster that underachieved last season -- with Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Branden Albert, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Brandon Flowers, Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson and Dontari Poe leading the charge.

Losing Miller on defense is the equivalent of Peyton Manning being sidelined for the Broncos on the offensive side of the ball. While the Broncos are not simply going to hand over the division crown, the Chiefs appear to be in the best shape to make them fight for it.

Jeremy Sickel has successfully created and operated numerous websites. His work can be read on Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, and he has also appeared on various podcasts and sports talk shows around the country.

Interact with Jeremy on Twitter @JeremySickel.

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