NGSC Sports

AFC West Week 12 Previews

Week 12 in the NFL and the race for the AFC West continues to grow closer setting up what could be one of the most exciting division races in years. But, the division race is not the only one that might come down to a photo finish as the race for the second wildcard sport has turned into a jumbled mess. Two pieces of that mess being the two west teams out of the division race in Oakland and San Diego. Will one of them have their playoff hopes dashed this weekend? How will Kansas City bounce back after suffering defeat for the first time this season? Can Peyton Manning beat his kryptonite and defeat Tom Brady in the age-old rivalry that no one ever gets tired of watching?  Take a look here as I preview whats to come this Sunday in what will surely be a fun weekend of football in the AFC West.

Chargers (4-6) @ Chiefs (9-1)- This Sunday afternoon will bring about an all-important divisional game that may be harder to predict than it appears on paper. The Chargers are one of the most unpredictable teams in the league but come in to this game on a three game losing streak. All season San Diego has had people wondering if the West could send three teams to the playoffs but if they want to make it happen they need to piece together a few wins immediately.

The second wildcard seed in the AFC is wide open and not out of the Chargers reach yet. Despite the rough season and all the injuries, Philip Rivers continues to have a solid year. He currently ranks fourth in passing yards and leads the league in completion percentage. Rivers will have to come up big and when I say big I mean huge if the Chargers are to win in Arrowhead where the Chiefs have yet to lose this season.

San Diego would also be wise to utilize their run game with Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. While Chiefs posses one of the best pass defenses in the NFL, they have struggled to stop the run this season. Their run defense currently ranks 21st so Chargers would be smart to go with a similar game plan as they did when they faced Indianapolis in week six and pound the ball down the throat of the Chiefs.

Kansas City will look to utilize their run game as well with Jamaal Charles who comes off a mediocre performance last week in Denver where the Chiefs suffered their first loss of the season. Despite the uninspiring performance, Charles is still the leagues fifth leading rusher and the one many consider the MVP of this squad.

Charles, Alex Smith and company will look to bounce back and keep the division race neck and neck heading into next week. Smith continued his safe ways last week and was vastly outplayed by Peyton Manning. While Rivers may not be Manning, he is fully capable of putting points on the board. If Rivers manages to turn up the heat and run up the scoreboard for San Diego, Smith will have to take some chances and go for some big plays.

However, running up the points against the Chiefs defense is something only Manning and the Broncos have managed to do this season. Rivers does not posses the arsenal of weapons Manning does and Chiefs defense still ranks second in points allowed per game. While the Chargers do like to surprise people and win games it seems they shouldn’t, beating the Chiefs in Kansas City would be a shocker and one I do not foresee happening.

The hostile environment and Chiefs defense will be too much for the Chargers and they will continue to fall behind in the playoff hunt. I got the Chiefs in this divisional showdown setting up what will be an even more vital one against the Broncos next Sunday night.

Titans (4-6) @ Raiders (4-6)- Both of these teams come into this game as part of the jumble that is the race for the second wildcard spot in the AFC. This game is essential if you want your team to remain in that picture. Neither team came into this season with high expectations yet the winner will remain in the race for that final playoff spot which is sure to be a fight to the finish while the loser of this game will most likely be erased from the hunt.

Each team will be lead by a quarterback they did not start the season with. Matt McGloin will get the start for the Raiders in place of injured Terrelle Pryor who suffered a sprained knee. It’ll be McGloin’s second career start after leading his team to a win over the Texans last weekend 28-23. He impressed in Houston going 18-32 with three touchdowns and no interceptions against one of the league’s best defenses. He will try to duplicate that effort against the seventh ranked pass defense in the NFL.

The Titans will be starting Ryan Fitzpatrick who became the starting quarterback following the season ending injury to Jake Locker. Despite putting up solid numbers in his last two starts going 44-61 for 486 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, the Titans have come up empty handed. They suffered back-to-back losses against the Colts last weekend and more disappointingly, the Jaguars the Sunday prior.

Oakland’s offense will also be without their leading wide receiver Denarius Moore (shoulder) and running back Darren McFadden (hamstring). McFadden has been struggling with injury throughout the season but Rashad Jennings has stepped up in his absence and has ran for 340 yards and two touchdowns in the Raiders last three outings. As a result the Raiders now rank fourth in the league in rushing yards.

In addition, not only have they been effective in running the ball, their defense has been successful in stopping the run as they rank sixth in opponents rushing yards. Titan’s running back Chris Johnson could be in for a long afternoon. If Titans are to win this game he will need to help carry the load on offense and take some pressure of Fitzpatrick.

At the end of the day I question if McGloin can muster a repeat of the performance he put up last weekend but with an inconsistent run game I have trouble picking Fitzpatrick to get the job done on his own. While I think this game is a toss up I’m going with the home team Raiders to win this one and stay in the mix for that final AFC wildcard spot.

Broncos (9-1) @ Patriots (7-3)- Sunday night will bring about a rivalry that never seems to get old, Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. This game will be the 14th time the two quarterbacks have come head-to-head, including playoffs, with seven of those ending as one possession games. Brady leads the series 9-4 and is 6-2 when the two teams face off in New England. The two last faced in week five of last season with Brady and the Pats victorious over the Broncos 31-21.

However, the Broncos have since added weapons to their offense and Brady has lost several from his. One of those being wide receiver Wes Welker, who went from New England to Denver in the off-season. Welker’s departure from New England was salty and you can bet he’ll come into this game with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

New England is dealing with injuries on both sides of the football as they have lost safety Adrian Wilson, linebacker Jerod Mayo and most importantly defensive lineman Vince Wilfork for the season. Cornerback Aqib Talib is also questionable for Sunday night’s game after re-aggravating a hip injury Monday in Carolina.

Broncos are a little banged up as well. Both Welker (concussion) and tight end Julius Thomas (knee) remain questionable but returned to practice Thursday. The biggest injury concern of them all however is Manning, who has been dealing with sore ankles but they haven’t seemed to slow him down much and he is expected to play.

Denver’s offensive line did a great job of protecting Manning last week against Kansas City, not allowing the Chiefs to get to him once. They will have to make the same effort this Sunday to protect their quarterback and the job should be slightly easier as the Pats do not posses as high quality of defense as the Chiefs.

With each team having less than stellar defenses and two of the best offenses, expect this game to be high scoring. Patriots currently hold a comfortable two game lead in their division over the Jets and Dolphins but the Broncos are neck and neck with the Chiefs. It is crucial for the Broncos to pull out the victory to keep pace with their division rival who they defeated last Sunday, handing Kansas City their first loss of the season.

The Patriots are coming off a short week after suffering a loss on Monday to the Panthers (24-20) in a game that ended on a controversial note when a flag was thrown and then picked up by the officials. Not only are they probably still fuming from the no-call but also they have yet to lose back-to-back games this season, which doesn’t bode well for Denver.

This game is by far the most difficult to pick of the weekend. If I were to pick this game based of the record books, Brady and the Pats would be the wise choice since they have been Manning’s kryptonite for the last 13 years. However, if Manning can pick apart the Chiefs defense then he can surely pick apart an injury depleted Patriots defense. I believe the game will be close and could very easily come down to which future hall-of-fame QB has the ball in their hands last but I’m taking the Broncos on the road in this one in what may not be the last time we see these two face this season.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: