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Broncos Take Control of the AFC West, Bengals Extend Division Advantage

With their 35-28 win over the Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) on Sunday, the Denver Broncos (10-3) took control of the AFC West as they jumped into the top spot. The Broncos have four remaining games and with their opponents’ 16-32 combined record, they appear as the favorite for the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed thanks to their top AFC record.

Denver also owns the tiebreaker after its two victories over the Chiefs and as for the 2014 Super Bowl, they are 7/2 to win it.

Eric Decker

Eric Decker

On Sunday, it was a good day to be Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, who had a career-high four touchdowns and 174 yards. His quarterback, Peyton Manning, threw for 403 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.

Rookie running back Montee Ball showed versatility in his 13 carries for 117 yards.

As for the Chiefs, they have now lost three straight games including two consecutive high-scoring ones. After starting the season with a 9-0 run, the Chiefs defense has lost its stream. They have given up 480 yards per game over their last four games after allowing 309 yards each game in their first eight, according to NFL.com.

Sacks have also fallen off after having 35 in their first seven games but only two during the ensuing six weeks.

Fortunately quarterback Alex Smith has been playing well. On Sunday, he went 26 for 42 yards, 293 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. For ground yards, he was the team’s second-leading rusher with his four carries for 46 yards.

In the previous week in a 41-38 loss to the San Diego Chargers (5-6), Smith had 294 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Alex Smith

Alex Smith

At the end of the day, Smith knows the clock is ticking for the team’s playoff chances and said after Sunday’s game via ESPN.com, “Certainly we are in a position to go another direction, not to say we still can’t win the division. There are still a lot of games left, but those things are out of our control at this point.  There certainly are two other ways to get into the playoffs, with the two wild-card spots, and we’re sitting pretty good with that.”

Along with the pressure to turn things around, the Chiefs also got hit with the injury bug on Sunday. Tight end Anthony Fasano went down in the second half with a concussion and left tackle Branden Albert exited the game on a cart with a knee injury.

Looking ahead to Week 14, the Broncos will host the Tennessee Titans (5-7) for a win (-13.5, 50 o/u) and the Chiefs will visit the Washington Redskins (3-9).

In other AFC News…

For the Cincinnati Bengals (8-4), good Andy Dalton showed up on Sunday and led the team to a 17-10 win over the Chargers (5-7). Dalton was efficient as he went 14 for 23, 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He now has 3,144 yards for the season–his third consecutive 3,000 yard one, second to Manning to accomplish this at the start of their NFL careers.

Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 20 carries, 92 yards and one touchdown while Green had five receptions, 83 yards and one score.

Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton

With the win, the Bengals have a two-game lead over the Baltimore Ravens (6-6) and hope to get a bye for the playoffs.

As for the Ravens, should the regular season conclude today, they’d get the AFC’s final wild-card position and a No. 6 seed. They’d also likely play the Indianapolis Colts (8-4) in the playoffs’ first round.

But you know Ravens would likely prefer to win the AFC North and to do so, the Bengals would need to lose a minimum of one of their upcoming three games (Colts, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings) before the two teams meet in the regular season finale.

This week the Ravens (-7.5, 43 o/u) play the Vikings and the Bengals (-5.5, 44.5) will take on the Colts.



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