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AFC West Breakdown: Week 13


(Kim Constantinesco writes for Predominantly Orange, which is FSB’s Denver Broncos blog. Representing the rest of the AFC West are Arrowhead Addict, Bolt Beat and Just Blog Baby.)

It’s a race to the finish, and the Broncos have nearly reached the tape. The Chargers could be playing the role of the tortoise, but with the way things are looking, the hare may pull this one out. The Chiefs and the Raiders are still near the start line questioning their training methods, coaching staff, and off season moves. It was the week of the young gunslinger. Jay Cutler showed Brett Favre a thing or two, Matt Ryan pretty much crushed the Chargers playoff hopes, and JaMarcus Russell and Tyler Thigpen did absolutely nothing to help their respective teams win. It’s plain and simple: When you’re QB does well, your team has got a shot.

Denver Broncos (7-5):

Looking Back: No one including myself thought that the Broncos would pull this one off. Playing Bretty and the Jets on their home turf did not bode well for a team that lost to the Raiders last week. The Jets had won five straight, the weather favored their running game, and the Broncos injury bug put the Broncos in a bad place. Denver’s defense played a major role in the win. Go figure. They allow the Raiders to score 31, and then they turn around and hold the Jets to 17. The Broncos scored a defensive touchdown in the first quarter, came up with an interception, and stopped the Jets on all three of their 4th down conversion attempts. Credit the offensive line for giving Jay Cutler enough time to throw for 357 yards and 2 TDs. Peyton Hillis ran for 129 yards and a score, and with both the passing and rushing game on track, Mike Shanahan could get creative with the play calling.

Looking Forward: The Broncos come back home to face the Chiefs next week. The Broncos have won three straight on the road, and they probably wish they could play away from Invesco for the rest of the year. This will be the second meeting for these two teams. The Chiefs tore up the Broncos for their first win of the season in week 4. The 33-19 score put an end to the Broncos three game winning streak, and gave them their first loss of the year. If momentum continues on both sides of the ball, the Broncos should easily hand the Chiefs their 11th loss of the year. Peyton Hillis can have a field day against the Chiefs rush defense because they are ranked 31st in the league. Crazy things can happen at Invesco though, so I wouldn’t put all my money on a Broncos win.

Kansas City (2-10):

Looking Back: Well, shoot yourself in the leg! The Chiefs won! Unless you were a fan of either Oakland or Kansas City, watching this game would have been like watching your grandma clip her toe nails. Two of the worst teams in the league battled it out in a game that meant nothing except a better draft position. Both teams’ rushing defenses can’t stop Betty White and the rest of the Golden Girls from running for a touchdown. It’s sad when both QBs had the highest rushing average for their teams. JaMarcus Russell had 18.5 yards per carry, and Tyler Thigpen averaged 4.4 yards per carry. Larry Johnson went for 92 yards and a score while Justin Fargas had 82 yards and a touchdown. Kansas City did come up with two fumbles, and once again, Tony Gonzalez played like the stud that he is. He had 8 catches for 110 yards.

Looking Forward: The Chiefs stroll into Denver hoping for a repeat performance of their last meeting. Because we never know which Denver team will show up to play, the Chiefs feel like they have a shot. Larry Johnson will look to rack up a lot of yards again. He had almost 200 yards and 2 TDs during their last meeting. Tyler Thigpen will be meeting the Broncos for the first time as starting QB. Damon Huard played during the last meeting. Thigpen has not been playing as well lately, but he does have the ability to pick apart a poor defense like Denver’s. The Chiefs defense will have their hands full with a team that has been throwing and running the ball well lately, so this game will not be an easy win like they had the last time.

Oakland Raiders (3-9):

Looking Back: Who would you blame the loss on? Tom Cable, JaMarcus Russell, or the special teams unit? The offensive woes resumed for the Raiders this week after managing 31 against Denver the week before. They went 3 for 13 on third down conversions and 1 for 3 on fourth down conversions. The running attack fumbled the ball twice, and JaMarcus Russell threw for just 132 yards. The Raiders defense could not do anything to help the offense as far as creating turnovers, or stopping the run. It was an all around poor performance from a team that was talking about being in the playoff hunt after their win in Denver. Who got the last laugh?

Looking Forward: The Raiders don’t have to travel too far as they head south to face the Chargers. It’s a stretch to say that anyone in California is excited about this game. Oakland will attempt to revive their offense. You can call a code blue, and begin chest compressions, but I don’t think that thing will come back to life. Tom Cable is just working on keeping his job while JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden wait around for a third piece of the puzzle to fall into place come draft time. It would take a lot for the Raiders to beat the Chargers on Thursday, but crazier things have happened.

San Diego Chargers (4-8):

Looking Back: The Chargers went up against a very talented Falcons team. Michael Turner got revenge on his former team racking up 120 yards against them while Roddy White did some damage in the air with112 receiving yards. Matt Ryan and coach Mike Smith didn’t look like rookies as they did the dirty bird all over the Chargers. LaDanian Tomlinson had 14 carries for 24 yards and 1 TD. It’s safe to say that he’s not the LT of old, but Michael Turner might be. This loss leaves the Chargers three games behind Denver with four games to play. The Chargers have lost five of their last six games, and it looks like Norv Turner is as good as gone.

Looking Forward: It’s a short week for the Chargers to prepare for the Raiders, but thankfully it’s only the Raiders. The Chargers have a descent shot at putting a mark in the win column, and it’s a good thing because the playoff train is basically pulling away from the station. There really is no excuse for the Chargers to have a 4-8 record. Yes, there were plenty of games that they should have won, but they didn’t. They have Philip Rivers, LT, Antonio Gates, Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson, and the list goes on and on. On paper, they should be able to score 35 a game. They just can’t close out games in the 4th quarter. It all starts now. With rapid fire wins, and Denver losses, the playoff picture could change.