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AFC West Preview: Chargers vs. Broncos, Saints vs. Raiders, and Bengals vs. Chiefs

One of the top NFL stories this week has been the rash of starting quarterback concussions. Some are expected to return this week (see San Francisco 49ers Alex Smith) and others are still questionable but unlikely (see Chicago Bears Jay Cutler). Fortunately for the AFC West, its quarterbacks dodged this bullet and will enter this week with business as usual.

The most intriguing matchup is the division-leading Denver Broncos (6-3) vs. the San Diego Chargers (4-5). Recall the Oct. 15 game.

For the Oakland Raiders (3-6), they’ll play the surging New Orleans Saints (4-5), who will enter the game with some swagger after last week’s win against the Atlanta Falcons.

Then, there’s the tied for AFC-worst Kansas City Chiefs (1-8) vs. the confident Cincinnati Bengals (4-5). Will the Chiefs snap their losing streak?

Chargers vs. Broncos 

Broncos QB Peyton Manning

It’s been a tough season for the Chargers with some calls to get rid of coach Norv Turner. This team needs a win but one against the Peyton Manning-led Broncos may be tough.

In the teams’ Oct. 15 meeting, Manning staged a late rally and the Broncos won 35-24. The team has won three additional games since then; the Chargers have won two of its last seven with both wins against the lowly Chiefs.

The Chargers will face a No. 6-ranked Broncos defense. They have 12 sacks in its last two games and have only given up 18.8 points per game over its last three games.

Denver’s special teams have also contributed from kick return touchdowns.

San Diego will bring a weak fourth quarter Philip Rivers who has a 56.5 passer rating and a NFL-worst six picks. Fortunately tight end Antonio Gates plays well against the Broncos with two touchdowns in their last meeting.

The bettors think the Chargers slump will continue with Denver at -8.5 with a 48.5 over/under.

Raiders vs. Saints

Raiders QB Carson Palmer

While the Saints are coming off their greatest win of the season, the Raiders are recovering from a 55-20 rout by the Baltimore Ravens and a two-game losing streak.

There’s really no comparison between the two quarterbacks: Saints Drew Brees vs. Raiders Carson Palmer.

Brees’ successes are well publicized and well, Palmer’s numbers are less impressive even with his 368 yards and two touchdowns last week.

The Raiders’ defense spends a lot of time on the field, giving up a lot of yards, especially against Tampa Bay: giving up 278 rushing yards. This week they should have their hands full with Saints running back Chris Ivory, who didn’t get any action in the team’s first seven games, but has been a beast in the last two: 120 rushing yards with a 7.1 per average carry and two touchdowns.

There’s also Saints Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham. Last week, he had seven receptions with a career-high 146 yards and two scores.

For Oakland, its top running back Darren McFadden will likely be out this week with a sprained ankle.

This team has bigger problems than his absence and this should help the Saints see a third straight win at -4.5 with a 54.5 over/under.

Chiefs vs. Bengals

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles

The Chiefs last won a game on Sept. 23 against the Saints, 27-23 in OT. While New Orleans turned its season around, the Chiefs have not and you have to wonder if it’s even possible at this point.

The Bengals again have their eye on the playoffs and against a Matt Cassel-led Chiefs, this could bode well. In this fifth NFL season as a starter, Cassel has his lowest quarterback rating (66.6) along with 12 picks and six touchdowns.

The Chiefs one bright spot is running back Jamaal Charles. He has three games at the century mark with his biggest game coming against the Saints with 223 yards.

For the Bengals, they’ll bring a talented sophomore quarterback Andy Dalton with his 2,239 yards to-date, wide receiver A.J. Green (820 yards and running BenJarvus Ellis-Green (537 yards).

Looks like another loss for the Chiefs with the Bengals at -3.5 and a 43.5 over/under.



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