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AFC West Preview: Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers, San Diego Chargers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This week, the four AFC West teams will be back on the field. The Denver Broncos sit at the top of the division at 5-3. With quarterback Peyton Manning at the helm, this team is playing at a high level and is part of the playoff conversation.

This week they play the struggling Carolina Panthers (2-6).

San Diego (4-4) is also having a poor season and there’s been questions on whether coach Norv Turner will be let go. The bettors give him 5 to 4 odds to be fired by the team before the regular season ends. This week they will play an improving Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4).

Sunday’s third game is the Oakland Raiders (3-5) against the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (6-2).

The struggling Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) get the Monday night slot against the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3).

Denver vs Carolina

Denver QB Peyton Manning

After questions on whether Manning would be back to form this season, the answer is yes. He stats are at his pre-surgery play and he is leading his team from clutch play and improved performances from his teammates (see his wide receiver duo of Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas).

Yes, there’s even talk of Manning as MVP.

This week, the Broncos will look for a fourth-straight win against the NFC-worst Panthers team who are seeking a second consecutive win.

Good luck as Manning leads the league with his career-best 69.5 pass completion percentage and his 108.6 quarterback rating. The number 300 is a favorite one for the quarterback as he’s thrown five straight–almost six–300-yard passing games.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is having a rough sophomore year but last week against the Washington Redskins, he went 13 for 23, 201 yards, one passing touchdown and one rushing score. He also did not have any turnovers but can he keep this confidence against the Broncos and if not grab a win, at least make it a game?

Frustrated wide receiver Steve Smith is having a down season, grabbing his first touchdown reception of the year last week. He has 630 yards to-date.

The bettors think it will be a close one but the win goes to Denver at -3.5 with a 47 over/under.

San Diego vs. Tampa Bay

Bucs RB Doug Martin

While these teams have matching records, they’re likely headed in two different directions as the season progresses.

With a new coach, improving quarterback and rookie running back phenom, Tampa Bay has played their way into the playoff conversation.

Last week against the Oakland Raiders, freshman running back Doug Martin ran for a team-record 251 yards with four touchdowns to help the team achieve their second straight win. With his performance, Martin was only 45 yards short of tying Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s single game record.

On Sunday, he’ll play against a Chargers team that is No. 4 vs. the run at 87.4 yards per game, but in its last two games, it has given up a 123.0 yard average.

Fourth-year Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman is a major contributor to the team’s success and last week against Oakland, he passed for 247 yards with two touchdowns. In his last four games, he also likes the number 300 as he’s averaged 314.3 yards, 11 touchdowns and one pick.

For the Chargers, their 31-13 win over the Chiefs ended a three-game losing streak but their last two wins have come against this lowly team. They are still a possible playoff team as they sit one game out of the running for the wildcard.

Quarterback Phillip Rivers enters the game with 12 touchdowns and 10 picks. His last game was a good one completing 18 of 20 passes for 220 yards with two touchdowns and one pick against Kansas City.

If Rivers can keep his interceptions down, the team may have a chance against Tampa Bay.

The Chargers will be trying to win one for the Turner, but the Bucs get the nod at -3 with a 48 over/under.

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