• How The (AFC) West Will Be Won?

    The beauty of the National Football League is that things can change dramatically in just 1 week, especially when the team leading the division loses and all 3 of its pursuers win. Such was the case last Sunday and Monday night in the AFC West as Hue Jackson’s Raiders were pounded at Miami, while the Broncos got another nail-biting victory (this time at Minnesota), the battered Chiefs Hail-Maryed their way to a win at Soldier Field and the unpredictable Chargers snapped a 6-game losing streak courtesy of a rout of the Jaguars.

    Hence, Denver and Oakland sit at 7-5 and Kansas City and San Diego are 2 games out at 5-7. And while the Broncos have won their last 5 games to put themselves in this position, it’s the final 4 weeks that will obviously decide things. What makes things even more interesting is that the 4 clubs have spent the season beating up on each other, Denver sitting at 3-2 within the division (winning all 3 road games and losing both home games), the Raiders and Chiefs both at 2-2 and the Bolts at 2-3. And while Norv Turner’s club has perhaps the toughest hole to dig out of tie-breaker wise, QB Philip Rivers and company have proven in the past that they are capable of catching fire down the stretch. In 2008, the Chargers were 4-8 and ran the table on the way to the AFC West title.

    Perhaps the single most interesting statistic about the 4 teams is that each has been outscored on the season, with the Raiders (302), Broncos (292) and Chargers (289) all ranking in the bottom third of the league in points allowed. And while the Chiefs have given up the fewest points amongst the 4 clubs, they’ve also lost 4 games this season by 28 or more points.

    So who is truly in the best position to win this thing? Conventional wisdom says QB Tim Tebow and the Broncos, who continue their magic carpet ride following that 1-4 start. The former Heisman winner is showing improvement as a passer, the running game is top notch and the defense gets after people. But John Fox’s club also gave up 489 total yards and 32 points last week at the Metrodome.

    Is it the Raiders, who are more talented than some of their recent predecessors but QB Carson Palmer continues to have problems with turnovers? Do the Chiefs (who have scored a total of 35 points in their last 5 games) have enough offense to get the job done? Or despite that midseason lull, are Rivers and the Chargers primed for another late-season division-clinching run?

    Your guess is as good as theirs.

    Comments 9 Comments
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      My bet is the Raiders. The Broncos have won way too many close games. All mysticism aside, that trend should reverse itself at some point.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      I hadn't realized until last weekend that the Chargers are missing their first team left tackle and left guard. That explains a lot of Rivers' problems. I can't see them turning it around with an o-line that looks hapless.

      You'd have to say that the Broncos have the classic chemistry for success: strong D, strong running game, and few turnovers. The QB doesn't provide much in the passing game. but he seems to have inspired every facet of the squad. Steve young may be right: Tebow-ball may not win a championship. But it can win games and maybe a divisional title. I give John Fox a lot of credit. Nobody else seems to want to. *head scratch*

      As you say, the big question mark for the Raiders is Palmer. Can he raise his game?
    1. Dave Lapham's Avatar
      The Raiders are self destructing with turnovers and penalties. If they secure the football and stay ahead of the chains by limiting penalties, they could win the division. If they keep themselves on their schedule, they will be inconsistent and struggle. Very few teams have the margin for error they are playing with. The Broncos are just the opposite....they don't give the ball away and are very disciplined in the penalty department. Just goes to show you talent isn't everything, disciplined talent is everything.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Broncos
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      I think its important to look at each team's schedule for the final four games and then assess if that's a win or loss. I'm going to do that and give you my prediction based on that.

      Denver: Chicago (W), New England (L), at Buffalo (W), Kansas City (W)
      Oakland: at Green Bay (L), Detroit (W), at Kansas City (W), San Diego (W)
      San Diego: Buffalo (W), Baltimore (L), at Detroit (L), at Oakland (L)
      Kansas City: at NY Jets (L), Green Bay (L), Oakland (L), at Denver (L)

      So I have Denver and Oakland at 10-6, San Diego 6-10 and KC at 5-11. With Denver and Oakland both 4-2 within the division. But Denver winning the tiebreaker based on conference record (8-4 for Denver, 7-5 for Oakland).

      I don't see how SD and KC catch Denver and Oakland. So if someone can convince me otherwise, I'm all ears. But it isn't a very good chance of happening, especially with the schedules above. Now granted, I thought Oakland was gonna win at Miami, so nothing is guaranteed.

      I think based on the schedule above and the fact that Denver is most likely going to win any tiebreaker, the Broncos would be my favorite to win the division. The loss at Miami was bad for Oakland. They had to get that one.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      "Defence wins Championships."

      Or at least it'll win this misbegotten division. Plus, the Broncos play two teams with crappy QBs with weird names as well as the Bills.

      And John Fox gets Coach of The Year.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar

      Oh yeah, and Von Miller too. Dude's a beast.
    1. xmenehune's Avatar
      DEN giving up 32pts to MIN really caught my eye. So was it just because DE/LB Miller was out?
      DEN also lost CB Vaughn in 1stQ and MIN Ponder & Co had their way w/DEN D
      BUF could beat DEN, it'll probably be a nasty weather game which would favor the better running team DEN, but I suspect BUF will p/u on NE D schemes and add a twist or two. It just may end up being a field position game and home field familiarity comes thru. If the weather is decent I would begin to favor BUF much more heavily due to BUF O having a good edge w/small ball O.

      I have OAK coming out on top @10-6, DEN @8-8, SD 7-9 and KC 6-10.

      That last game for DEN @home vs KC also is hard to match up right now. Watching KC WR's is tuff as their are too many drops at this time. I wonder if Palko will still be playing, if so he should have much better rapport w/his WR's and controlling left side of field will be interesting to watch. KC's D has stepped it up in the last two games, so another low scoring affair and maybe KC earns the split - this happens alot in the NFL - only the truly dominant teams get the season sweep. DEN is not dominant on O and I wonder if there D will stay dominant w/Miller & Vaughn out. Miller could return - but when?
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      Yup. The Broncos will take it. HATE that since I'm a Raiders fan since 2002. They were favored in the beginning but Tebow Mania with that defense can't be stopped. OAK has a slight chance, I mean very slight chance, to make the playoffs but DEN will win the AFCW.