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AFC West: Week 6 Preview and Point Spreads

It’s been a weird start for all four AFC West teams this season. The Raiders are 1-3 while the Chiefs are 1-4, both teams that many prognosticators anticipated challenging for this division. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos look like a different squad every time they play. Peyton’s looked great… except when he hasn’t, like his four interception meltdown against the Atlanta Falcons on a Monday night game. And the Chargers are still coached by Norv Turner, one of the most mystifying facts in all of sports. However, the division picture should get a clearer after this week with a big Monday night showdown between the Chargers and Broncos. Here’s the rest of the action for Week 7 in the AFC West:

Oakland Raiders (+11) at Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

This line started out at nine, and keeps climbing. And why shouldn’t it? The Falcons are undefeated, and look like one of the best teams in football, while Oakland has been nothing less than a train wreck thus far in the season. Atlanta has an opportunistic defense that has been turning the ball over at an impressive clip this season, and I would expect to see them get a ton of pressure on Carson Palmer this week and force him into a handful of ugly interceptions. This line is high, but the dome will be rocking and Oakland should be hopelessly overmatched in this game. Take the Falcons at -11.

Kansas City Chiefs (+5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

This might be the least compelling match-up this weekend. The Chiefs are 1-4 while the Buccaneers, mercifully saved by a bye week, are only 1-3. The Chiefs were embroiled in some controversy this week after the Baltimore Ravens defense knocked out starting quarterback Matt Cassel and some fans at Arrowhead cheered his departure. Now, Brady Quinn will start this game.

“It felt great to be out there,” said Quinn, who has completed 52.5 percent of his passes for 1,934 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions while starting 12 of his 15 career games. “Matt is our starter and I just prepare every week like I am a starter, and I prepare myself for the moment.” The Chiefs aren’t as dreadful as their record suggests; they have a very good defense, and should have beaten the Ravens last week. They also hung in there with the Chargers in Week 4, eventually losing 20-37. Brady Quinn showed some flashes in his brief appearance last week, and I quite like the Chiefs chances here. This feels like a crazy Jamaal Charles 150 yard rushing performance. Take the Chiefs at +5.

Denver Broncos (-1) at San Diego Chargers, Monday, 8:30 p.m. EST

These two teams are virtually identical. The Broncos are 2-3; the Chargers are 3-2. The Broncos have scored an average of 27 points per game; the Chargers have scored an average of 24.8. However, Manning has traditionally struggled against the Chargers, losing five of his last six against San Diego while throwing 11 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The last time he faced them, he threw six interceptions. San Diego knows they can rattle him, too. “Monday night I expect our fans to have a big part in it. It’s part of the reason that we’ve had a lot of success against Manning,” Chargers head coach Norv Turner said. “They’re an off-the-line or a no-huddle team and the crowd can affect that greatly.” Manning has played up and down this season, and I would expect this to be a severe “down” performance. But even outside of Manning, this Broncos team can’t hold on to the ball; they have a minus-six turnover margin so far this season. I like the Chargers at +1 here.

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