Week 16 in the AFC West was one for the ages. The Broncos had the opportunity to close out the division while the Oakland Raiders kept their season alive. Let’s take a look at the week that was and what’s to come in the last week of the season.
Denver Broncos (8-7):
Looking Back: The Broncos have lost two in a row. A 40-14 Christmas Eve loss in Buffalo humbled the Broncos even more after their week 15 loss to the Patriots. It was a turnover filled game again with Tim Tebow throwing four interceptions, and the defense unable to put a stop to C.J. Spiller and the Bills run game. The Bills turned two Tebow interceptions into pick-6’s and Spiller had 1 TD and 111 yards on 16 carries. Ryan Fitzpatrick went 15-of-27 for 196 yards. It was the Broncos game to win in the beginning, but the mistakes were too costly to come back from.
Looking Forward: Win and they’re in. The hype surrounds the game for so many reasons but when it comes down to it, if the Broncos beat the Chiefs on Sunday, they make the playoffs. If they lose and the Raiders lose, then the Broncos will still take first place in the division. It’s a great storyline – Broncos v. Chiefs for the division crown, Tim Tebow v. Kyle Orton in the battle of the QBs, and John Fox taking a 4-12 team to the post season in his first year. It’s in the Broncos hands.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-9):
Looking Back: The Chiefs had the chance to beat the Raiders in regulation with a 49-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Succop, but the kick was blocked and the game went into overtime. It didn’t take the Raiders long to move into field goal range when Carson Palmer hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 53-yard gain. Then it was Sebastian Janikowski who hit the game winning 36-yard field goal. Kyle Orton went 21-for-36 for 300 yards and 1 TD, but he also threw 2 INTs. The Chiefs had 435 yards of total offense but could only muster 13 points. That’s their season.
Looking Forward: The Chiefs are playing for pride in this one against the Broncos. Kyle Orton wants to man-handle the team that benched him in favor of Tebow. Interim head coach Romeo Crennel is trying to make good on his last outing before the Chiefs begin the hiring process for a new head coach. In short, the Chiefs are looking forward to next season when they will have a slew of players returning healthy.
Oakland Raiders (8-7):
Looking Back: The Raiders big win keeps them in the playoff hunt. Carson Palmer went 16-of-26 for 236 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs. Denarius Moore was his big target with 4 catches for 90 yards and 1 TD while Michael Bush once again led the team in rushing with 70 yards on 23 carries. The Raiders had over 100 less yards of total offense than the Chiefs and they committed 15 penalties for a loss of 92 yards, but it was their timely big plays that won it for them.
Looking Forward: The Raiders host the Chargers and if they win and the Broncos lose, the team from the dark side will go to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Raiders are playing a team whose head coach is fighting to keep his job. The Chargers are not a roll-over-and-die kind of team. This is one that Broncos fans will be watching out of both corners of their eyes.
San Diego Chargers (7-8):
Looking Back: San Diego’s late season run ended when the Chargers lost to the Detroit Lions 38-10. Philip Rivers looked more like he did in the early part of the season when he went 28-for-53 for 299 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs. With Detroit’s victory, they clinched a playoff spot and knocked the Chargers from the playoff race for the second straight year after making post season play in five of their last six seasons. With that Norv Turner could be knocked from his position as head coach. Back to the drawing board for the Bolts.
Looking Forward: Up next, the Chargers have the chance to keep the Oakland Raiders from advancing to the playoffs. A win would ensure that the Broncos get in. The Chargers will be doing a major overhaul of their coaching staff this off season.