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With these riches, it is hard to see how the Raiders can miss a fifth straight division title. But if they do, Kansas City won't. The Chiefs have more troubles than the Raiders, which is simply relative since the Raiders have nearly none. Some of the Chiefs' old players—and it seems odd to realize that now, in 1971, the original AFL teams have old players—are gone. E. J. Holub, who started when the Chiefs were born as the Dallas Texans and who performed admirably as a linebacker and a center, has left after 10 years and 10 operations; Fred Arbanas, the tight end for nine years, quit after unsuccessful knee surgery, and Jerry Mays, who was first-string defensive end for 10 years and All-League for several, retired for business reasons.
Their loss may hurt the team spirit, since all of them were inspirational players, but it is unlikely to damage the physical capabilities of the club. Halfway through the 1970 season Holub lost his starting center job to Jack Rudnay, a strong rookie; Arbanas has been replaced by a young tight end named Morris Stroud, who is 6'10", 265, and was, memorably, stationed under the crossbar last year in an attempt to block Blanda's game-tieing field goal. Mays may not be so easy to supplant.
Solid running by Ed Podolak and Robert Holmes, who are bolstered by Wendell Hayes, Warren McVea and Jim Otis, who came from New Orleans in a trade, plus excellent receiving may pep up a rather lethargic Kansas City offense.
On defense, the Chiefs were strong in 1970 and should be stronger this year. A good draft of big defensive linemen helps. One example is Wilbur Young, 6'6", 290, who played at obscure William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa and was taken in the second round. When he was drafted, he demonstrated the kind of confidence a rookie needs. "Pro football will be tougher than the Iowa Conference," he said, "but I think I'll be able to handle myself all right." So far, he has.
If the defensive line falters, there is a premier corps of linebackers to fill the gap; Willie Lanier, Jim Lynch and Bobby Bell are probably the best trio in the AFC. The secondary is old enough and very good (and very irritating in the person of Jim Marsalis), and the punting, an overlooked factor on defense, is excellent.
Len Dawson is a championship quarterback and Mike Livingston, a big scrambler, has spelled him competently when he was hurt, which Dawson may be too often at 36, coming off two seasons of knee injuries (left in 1969, right in 1970).
For the last couple of years the Broncos have had enough defense to win. In 1970 only two teams in the AFC allowed fewer touchdowns than Denver's 28 ( Kansas City with 26, Baltimore with 25) and the agile, ferocious Bronco defensive line, led by All-Pro Richard Jackson dumped the opposing passer 50 times, nine more than Baltimore, the No. 2 team. However the defense will be weakened, as End Pete Duranko is out indefinitely after knee surgery.
The offense was deficient in 1970 because of the lack of a good quarterback. Head Coach Lou Saban, who couldn't help but see the signs at Mile High Stadium toward the end of last season—PUT LOU SABAN ON WAIVERS—traded for Green Bay's Don Horn, a young and promising passer. Saban got more offensive help in 13 other trades which netted him seven new attackers, two defenders and four draft choices.
Denver's good running attack should be even better with the acquisition of San Diego's small, mod and explosive Dickie Post, who will probably back up one of the best pairs of runners in the West—Floyd Little, who led the AFC in rushing with 901 yards in 209 attempts in 1970, and Bobby Anderson, a rookie who had a 4.4-yards-per-carry average.