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AFC West Week 13 Preview

The race for the AFC West division title is coming down to the stretch run. This week will feature a very crucial game between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. The winner of this game will take a big step towards securing a division title. The San Diego Chargers still are in the playoff hunt after a big win over the Chiefs last week. Last but not least is the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders will represent the AFC West when they travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Here is how the AFC West record looks at this point:

Denver Broncos 9-2    Kansas City Chiefs 9-2    San Diego Chargers 5-6    Oakland Raiders 4-7

Lets take a look at this week’s matchups:

Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo has proven himself to be a clutch player in November. He has taken on more of a leadership position with the Cowboys. Dez Bryant remains one of the best receivers in the NFL. Romo also has one of the best tight ends in Jason Witten. Terrance Williams is a dangerous weapon that can explode for a big game at any moment.  The problem with the Cowboys is their defense. They are giving up a total of 432.2 yards per game. That is not going to win too many games.

Rashard Jennings continues to be a pleasant surprise for the Raiders. He is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Matt McGloin will be making his third start for the Raiders. During his first two starts, McGloin has thrown four touchdowns to four different receivers and only one interception. Rod Streater and Denarius Moore will be his top options in the passing game. The Raiders defense which is giving 357.2 yards of total offense. Their passing game will be tested this week.

KhalifBarnes_display_imageKey Matchup: Demarcus Ware vs Khalif Barnes This matchup will be the key to the Raiders ability to pass the ball. If Barnes can hold his own against Ware, McGloin will get some time in the pocket to allow his receivers to get open. The Raiders like to run the football and it will be a lot easier for them if the passing game can be effective. Ware can be a very disruptive pass rusher.

The Verdict: Cowboys 28 Raiders 20

The Cowboys offense will just be too much for the Raiders. Demarco Murray is an explosive back when healthy. He will be a factor in this game even against the Raiders eighth ranked rushing defense which is giving up 99.1 yards per game. Look for Dez Bryant to have a big game against Tracy Porter and D.J. Hayden also.

Cincinnati Bengals @ San Diego Chargers

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have been able to enjoy yet another successful season. Green has 67 receptions and 1020 yards. He is a big play receiver as shown by his 15.2 yards per catch. Most of the attention is going towards Green but Marvin Jones is quietly emerging as a very good number two receiver. He has seven touchdowns on the year. The Bengals passing offense is averaging 256.6 yards per game and is capable of putting up points when they are able to get going.

Phillip Rivers orchestrated a signature comeback drive in the fourth quarter last week. He is having quite a season.  Rivers already has 3381 yards and 22 touchdowns. Most of his passes are going to his dynamic duo of Antonio Gates (59 rec 685yds 3 TDs) and offensive rookie of the year candidate Keenan Allen (50 rec 737yds 3 TDs). Ryan Matthews is finally coming through for the Chargers and as a result, their offense is more balanced. They are gaining 407.7 yards per game .

Wild Card Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Houston TexansKey Matchup: A.J. Green vs Shareece Wright The Bengals passing offense starts with A.J. Green. He is their best player and they will look to get him the ball often. He is one of the NFL’s most explosive players. Wright will have his hands full when he is matched up with Green. He is no match for Green and will be targeted often so it will be very important to use bracket coverage to limit the big plays from the Dalton to Green connection.

The Verdict: Bengals 21 Chargers 17

The Bengals are giving up 18.1 points per game. Their secondary will be tested by Phillip Rivers. The Bengals will be able to go into San Diego and escape with a win due to a big game by A.J. Green.

The Game Of The Week

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs

Payton Manning and the Broncos are coming off of a crushing loss to the New England Patriots. The Broncos offense is the most prolific in the NFL. Their trio of receivers, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are as good as there is. Throw in Julius Thomas and you have a near unstoppable offense. Just to make things worse for opposing defenses, is the emergence of Knowshon Moreno. He is on pace for 1000 yards rushing on the season.

The Chiefs are polar opposites of the Broncos offensively. Alex Smith has continued to play safe football. The offense revolves around Jamal Charles. Charles has 1343 total yards this year. The Chiefs suffered a major blow to their pass rush as Tamba Hali and Justin Houston suffered injuries. Neither participated in practice and it is very unlikely that Houston will play.

Sean+Smith+Kansas+City+Chiefs+v+Philadelphia+4VJG6WR8CG5lKey Matchup: Sean Smith vs Demaryius Thomas Smith is a very solid press corner. Thomas is a big receiver that specializes in catching a bubble screen and taking it to the house. If Smith is able to detect a screen and fight through the block, he will have a chance to stop Thomas from breaking off a long run. At 6’3″, Smith is one of the taller cornerbacks in the NFL. Manning likes to throw the ball deep and outside the numbers to his receivers. Smith’s height will make it harder for Manning to place a nice dropshot into his receivers hands.

The Verdict: Broncos 35 Chiefs 17

The Broncos will be looking to make a statement in this game. The Chiefs will be weakened due to injuries to their pass rushers. No pressure on Peyton Manning is a recipe for disaster. He will pick the Chiefs secondary apart if he gets time in the pocket. The defense will shut down Jamal Charles and the rushing game. That will put the ball into the hands of Alex Smith. He is simply not able to get it done when he is behind by a large margin. The preference to throw the checkdown, even when a big play is there will not cut it against the high powered Broncos offense.

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