Dec 22, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) catches a pass for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

AFC West Preview - Week Seventeen

It seems like only yesterday that the Denver Broncos were hosting the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night to open up the 2013 season; now the Broncos are one win away from securing home field advantage in the playoffs, and ending the season with a 13-3 record.  Please continue reading for my thoughts on the Broncos trip out west to face the Oakland Raiders, as well as the Kansas City Chiefs visit to the west coast to face the San Diego Chargers.

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders: Peyton Manning set a new record last week in Houston when he threw his fifty-first touchdown pass of the season.  Total passing yards in a season and points scored are the two additional records that are realistically within the grasp of Manning and the entire 2013 Bronco squad.  Currently, Drew Brees holds the record of passing yards in a season with 5,476 yards (set in 2011) and the New England Patriots hold the record with points scored in a season with 589 (set in 2007).  Manning needs 266 yards to break the first record, while the Broncos need 18 points to break the scoring record.  The Broncos will secure home field advantage in the playoffs with a win in Oakland or a loss by the Patriots, who host the Buffalo Bills at the same time the Broncos and Raiders play.  It is good that the Broncos control their own destiny so they can focus on winning this game and not worry about other teams to help them.  For this very reason, I would expect the Broncos to come out firing all offensive cylinders, meaning the two records mentioned earlier will be easily broken.  Given the Broncos overall defensive performance this season being subpar, and the unfortunate loss of Von Miller, it will be interesting to see how the defensive unit executes against the Raiders.  The Broncos defense must use this game as a warm-up for the playoffs.  In the event the Broncos offense stalls at any point in the playoffs, the defense must be able to carry this team.  Unfortunately, my confidence for them to do this is very low but I will not give up on them.  Anything can happen in the playoffs.  I don’t expect Denver to have a letdown in anyway considering what is on the line in week seventeen and besides, they are playing the Oakland Raiders and what Bronco player, or fan for that matter, can’t get excited for this game!  If the Broncos are truly a Super Bowl contender, like many individuals and media outlets are saying, they must go out and easily handle the Raiders on Sunday.

Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers: The Chiefs are locked in at the fifth seed for the playoffs so this game means nothing to them other than an opportunity to get back on the winning track before they enter the playoffs, most likely at Indianapolis on January fourth or fifth.  After starting the season 9-0, the Chiefs have gone 2-4 and saw the division title go to the Broncos for the third year in a row.  Three of the Chiefs losses were at home and against AFC West teams.  The Chiefs have to be concerned if they head to Indianapolis for a playoff game considering the Indianapolis Colts came to Arrowhead in week sixteen and won rather easily.  I am sure the crowd the Broncos faced in week seven will greet the Chiefs in Indianapolis.  Before jumping ahead to that game, however, the Chiefs must figure out a way to stop the Chargers from handing them another loss, a task they weren’t able to accomplish in week twelve when San Diego won 41-38 in the last minute in Kansas City.  San Diego still has a chance of making the playoffs but in addition to them winning on Sunday, they will need help from other AFC teams.  They can only control their play, so I would fully expect them to come out and give the Chiefs a very tough challenge on the final Sunday of the regular season.  Considering the Chargers stopped the Broncos high-powered offense in week fifteen, I am anxious to see what they do against the Chiefs.  Of late, the Chiefs offense has looked better than it did early in the season but that was against teams like the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders; my assumption is that it will not be as easy against the Chargers.  Andy Reid has the difficult job of determining how long his starters will play, considering the game does nothing for the Chiefs regarding playoff seeding.  I understand the point of regaining momentum and maintaining timing but a lot of things happen on one play and one of those things could cause a negative impact on your team as you enter the playoffs.  Coach John Fox has a similar challenge on Sunday, although the Broncos are playing for home field advantage so there is justification in playing your starters the whole game.  I am going with my heart on this one, as well as remembering the Chargers performance in Denver a few weeks ago, and hoping the Chargers win this game running away.  To go a step further, not only am I hoping for a Chiefs loss this Sunday, I am also hoping the Chiefs travel to Indianapolis next weekend and their 2013 season comes to an end…..  with three straight losses, but that entire scenario deserves its own posting.

Go Broncos – beat the Raiders!

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