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What happened to the AFC Contenders?

Practically every major publication predicted that either the New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, or Jacksonville Jaguars would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year. Those teams combined for a 1-3 record and the only team to win lost their starting QB for the year. So what's in store for each of the AFC's contenders?

San Diego Chargers: Perhaps no team has more to gain from Brady's injury than the Chargers. Philip Rivers and Landanian Tomlinson should provide the kind of offense needed to compete with anybody. However, recently announced season ending injury to Shawn Merriman makes you wonder how the defense will react. Despite their loss on Sunday, the Chargers are now the AFC favorites.

Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning looks like his knee is still bothering him, and you have to wonder how that will hold up over the season. If Manning makes a full recovery from whatever was bothering him Sunday night, then the Colts should be alright. However, is age complicating the injury?

Jacksonville Jaguars: It doesn't matter what your skill position players can do without lineman to protect them. From this point on we are going to be using a patchwork of lineman and hope they can do a much better job than week 1. Than again you can't get any worse than 7 sacks and 33 yards.

New England Patriots: With Tom Brady injured, one has to wonder what now separates them from the Jets and the Bills. This will be Matt Cassel's first start of the millennium. With Brady out, what keeps Randy Moss from transforming into the malcontent from Oakland?

Of the four, San Diego is in the best position to get to the Super Bowl. All of their skill position players are intact. If the defense can cope with the loss of Merriman, they are easily the favorite as of right now to get to the Super Bowl.