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AFC West Preview: Denver vs. Kansas City and Oakland vs. San Diego

For the AFC West’s Week 17, only two games are on the schedule. The first includes the division title holder, the Denver Broncos (12-3) vs. the bottom of the group, the lowly Kansas City Chiefs (2-13). The Broncos are riding a 10-game win streak which is a ties the team for its second longest in their history.

In the second game, two teams will be playing for pride, the San Diego Chargers (6-9) vs. the Oakland Raiders (4-11).

Denver vs. Kansas City

Broncos QB Peyton Manning

Playoff Implications: With an 11th consecutive win on Sunday, the Broncos can grab a first-round bye for the AFC playoffs. A loss by the Houston Texas vs. the Indianapolis Colts would also give them home-field advantage in the playoffs.

As for the Chiefs, a loss will give them the top pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

In the teams last meeting, the Chiefs led in the second half but Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning kicked it into gear with two touchdowns to get the win. He is one of the reasons Denver is No. 2 in the league for scoring (29.5 points per game).

Last week against the Cleveland Browns, Manning threw a season-high 339 yards with three touchdowns, tying Brett Favre’s league record of 72 games with a minimum of three touchdown passes.

His receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker had a combined15 catches, 167 yards and three scores in the game. Decker will try to add 12 yards in Sunday’s game to hit the 1,000-yard mark.

The Chiefs will bring one bright offensive weapon, running back Jamaal Charles. Last week he ran for 22 carries with 226 yards and a touchdown. His fellow back Peyton Hills added 101 yards and for the day, the team ran for 352 yards — its highest number since 1966.

Charles is the AFC’s rushing leader with 1,456 yards and will try to add 12 yards to pass his 2010 career high but he did not practice on Wednesday due to illness.

It would be unfortunate if he doesn’t play since his team really doesn’t have a passing game under quarterback Brady Quinn. In his five starts, he has an average of 156.8 yards and last week he had two red zone turnovers.

The Chiefs have struggled to score in their last five games and Quinn gets sacked a lot on the road (nine).

This could continue this week as Denver gets the winning nod (-17, 42 o/u).

Oakland vs. San Diego

Chargers QB Philip Rivers

For the Chargers, Sunday’s game could be its last one with Norv Turner at the helm. He is expected to go along with GM A.J. Smith at season’s end as the team endures its worst season record since 2003 at 4-12.

Turner said of Sunday’s game to ESPN, “Obviously we’re playing a divisional rival. You’re playing the Raiders, so we’re just getting everything we can out of this week, enjoy each other, then we’ll see what happens.”

His quarterback Philip Rivers has contributed to this season’s woes with his 3,455 passing yards to date. He’ll miss the 4,000-yard mark this season–a first since 2007. Last week he had 165 passing with two scores in the 27-17 win vs. the New York Jets. The Chargers defense feasted on green quarterback Greg McElroy with a franchise record-tying 11 sacks.

This could happen again this week as the Raiders have a quarterback dilemma as Carson Palmer is injured.

The Raiders will either start back up Matt Leinart or Terrelle Pryor.

Leinart brings experience and last week after Palmer went down, he went 16 for 32 with a pick. On Wednesday, he shared first-team reps with Pryor.

Earlier in the week coach Dennis Allen sounded like Leinart was his pick but as the week has progressed, so has Pryor’s campaign for the start.

Regardless, the Raiders will likely rely on running back Darren McFadden to get some points which isn’t too comforting. Last week against the Panthers, he had 17 carries for 33 yards and has a 3.3 yards per average carry — the league’s third lowest number.

The Raiders have lost their last seven of eight games and this week the bettors aren’t ready to commit yet to another one.


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