AFC West Breakdown: Week 15

The Chargers and Raiders just became big fans of the Tennessee Titans. That’s the only team responsible for keeping the Chiefs out of the playoffs at the moment. With one win, the Chiefs can clinch the AFC West, tip their crowns, put their middle fingers in the air, and move on to post season play. The Chargers and Raiders will need to pick up wins of their own, but it’s the Chiefs that are holding their own destiny in their hands. Let’s take a look back and look to this week in the AFC West.
     
Denver Broncos (3-11):

Looking Back: The Broncos’ loss has played second fiddle to Tim Tebow’s first start. The rookie quarterback showed that he was a threat in the air and on the ground. He went 8-for-16 passing for 138 yards and 1 TD, and had 8 carries for 78 yards and one rushing TD. The team lost to the Raiders 39-23, but put up quite the fight through the first three quarters of the game. The Broncos’ rushing game went into hiding again with just 28 yards on 25 carries not counting Tebow’s production. Brandon Lloyd led the team in receiving with 4 catches for 79 yards and 1 TD.               

Looking Forward: Despite the Christmas holiday, the Broncos will keep their schedule nearly the same. They have practice on Friday, will have Saturday morning off, and then bus it to the team hotel on Saturday evening (Fun fact: All NFL teams stay at a hotel the night before a game even if they are playing at home). The Houston Texans’ (5-9) season is over, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a competitive game. Guys on both teams, coaches included, are fighting to keep their jobs. Is this an audition for Gary Kubiak to become the Broncos’ next head coach?         

Kansas City Chiefs (9-5):

Looking Back: In Missouri’s Super Bowl, the Chiefs blew the river water right out of St. Louis. With a 27-13 win, the Chiefs won just their 2nd road game of the year. I-70 looked like the red sea on a Sunday that pitted residents in the same state against eachother. Matt Cassel was 11 days removed from an emergency appendectomy, but still went 15-for-29 for 184 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Jamaal Charles carried the bulk of the offense on his shoulders with 11 carries for 126 yards and 1 TD, while Thomas Jones added 62 yards on 22 carries and 1 TD. Kendrick Lewis picked off Sam Bradford twice and the Chiefs put him in the ground three times for sacks.       

Looking Forward: The Chiefs host the 6-8 Tennessee Titans and try to wrap up the AFC title with a win. The Titans have been a Jekyll and Hyde team this year. In the early part of the season, they blew out the Giants and Eagles, but then they lost to the Redskins and Texans in the later part of the season. The Chiefs are better at stopping the rush than the pass which is a big plus with Chris Johnson coming into town. Johnson sits right behind Charles as the fourth best rusher in the league in terms of total yards. The Chiefs’ No. 1 ranked rushing team will be able to dominate the Titans’ 17th ranked rush defense. With all of the pieces in place, the Chiefs should be able to win.

Oakland Raiders (7-7):

Looking Back: With a solid rushing game and 502 yards of total offense, it’s easy to see why the Raiders beat the Broncos. Darren McFadden had 119 yards on 20 carries, and Michael Bush punched them into the endzone with 12 carries for 24 yards and 2 TDs. Jason Campbell has done just enough to keep this team afloat. He went 15-for-26 for 238 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs. It was the run defense and the lack of run offense from the Broncos that allowed the Raiders to control the clock and force Denver to punt seven times.        

Looking Forward: The Raiders need the stars to align for the playoffs to become reality. They have the Colts (8-6) coming to town on the arm of Peyton Manning. All offense goes through Manning as the team is ranked 1st in passing, but dead last in rushing. Defensively, the Raiders can give Manning a slight run for his money as their pass defense is ranked 5th. The Colts have been infiltrated by the injury bug all season, but still sit in first place in the AFC South. The Raiders have a very tough road to close out the year 2-0.        

San Diego Chargers (8-6):

Looking Back: It was an easy 34-7 win over the 49ers in San Diego. Philip Rivers went 19-for-25 for 273 yards and 3 TDs. Vincent Jackson was his main man with 5 receptions for 112 yards and 3 TDs. Contract this, says Jackson. Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert provided a steady rushing attack combing for 102 yards and 1 TD, which was just enough to relieve some pressure off of Rivers. The Chargers’ defense proved to be aggressive, putting Alex Smith into the dirt six times for a loss of 34 yards. The Chargers have won their last six of seven, proving again, that they dominate in the months of November and December.    

Looking Forward: The Chargers are on cruise control right now. All they have to do is win out (very possible against the Bengals and Broncos), and then hope that the Chiefs lose one of their games. With the playoffs a very real possibility, one question remains - are they one and done?     

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Topics: Afc West, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Matt Cassel, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Tim Tebow

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