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AFC West: Denver Clinches Second Straight Division Title

The race for the AFC West title is over. With four games left in the regular season, the Denver Broncos clinched the title and now look forward to hosting a postseason game. On Sunday, the Broncos defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23 clinching their second straight division title. The San Diego Chargers lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 20-13 to drop to 4-8, while the Oakland Raiders lost to the Cleveland Browns to drop to 3-9.

Kansas City, playing in memory of Javon Belcher and his girlfriend Kassandra Perkins played an inspired game and defeated the Carolina Panthers 27-21. Belcher killed Perkins Saturday morning at the home they lived in. He then went to the Chiefs’ training facility where he thanked Romeo Crennel, his head coach and Scott Pioli, the General Manager, for all they had done for him before taking his own life with a single gunshot to his head.

The Broncos not only won the game and the AFC West after defeating the Buccaneers, they also accomplished a number of feats. Peyton Manning became the second leading quarterback of all time for completions, passing Dan Marino. Manning entered the game needing just two touchdown tosses to pass both Jack Plummer and Hall of Famer John Elway for the most touchdown passes in a single season for Denver. He threw three on the day and has four more games to add to his new franchise record total.

Besides the feats accomplished by Manning on the day, the Broncos AFC West title was their second straight and the first time they have done that since back in 1986 and 1987. It was also just the fourth division title by Denver since Elway retired at the end of the 1998 season.

With their current record of 9-3, the Broncos are assured of finishing over .500 for the first time since 2006. Denver trailed Sunday at half by3 points, but 21 unanswered points by the Broncos in the third quarter sealed the game and the division title for Denver.

The clear winner in this game was Peyton Manning. He led Denver to its seventh straight victory. He also passed Marino in the records books and his own boss Elway, in a single game.

Manning started out slow, but his second half made up for his slow start. Overall, he made 27 of his 38 passes for just 242 yards, but three were for touchdowns. Seventeen of his completions went to Demaryius Thomas (8) and Jacob Tamme (9).

Thomas has become the go to guy for Manning. His eight receptions on Sunday were good for 99 yards and two scores. He now has 69 receptions on the season and 1,114 yards that lead the team. His two touchdown receptions give him 8 for the season tying him with Eric Decker.

Tamme’s 9 receptions were good for 89 yards on the day, but he did not catch one for a TD. Brandon Stokley is usually the recipient of the passes over the middle and short ones to the flat. However, Stokley could not play on Sunday so Tamme was the beneficiary of his absence.

Von Miller played terrific defense in the win, which backed up his being named the AFC Defensive Player for November. He has 24 tackles for a loss to go with his 14 sacks. He also intercepted a pass for a TD in Sunday’s game.

The season is not over as four games remain and then the playoffs, but Denver has made a huge statement and have the horses to take them deep into the playoffs.


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