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AFC WEST Week 15 Preview

The season is coming down the home stretch and the playoff picture is starting to take shape. As it stand right now, the Denver Broncos are the top seed in the AFC. The Kansas City Chiefs have the same record as the New England Patriots and a better record than the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately, they are in the AFC West and fall into the wildcard category. The San Diego Chargers are still in the playoff mix but are a longshot to make it into the tournament. As for the Oakland Raiders, well they are simply trying to figure out who will be their quarterback. Here are the AFC West standings going into week 15:

1) Denver Broncos 11-2   2) Kansas City Chiefs 10-3  

3) San Diego Chargers 6-7   4) Oakland Raiders 4-9

Let’s take a look at the matchups this week.

San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos (Thursday Night Football on NFL Network)

The Chargers were able to achieve some offensive balance and put up 37 points in their last game. Phillip Rivers found rookie Keenan Allen for two of his three touchdown passes. Ryan Matthews carried the ball 29 times for 103 yards. They will need to get similar results when they go against the Broncos. Antonio Gates has continued to show that he still has something left in the tank as well. The Chargers are averaging 400.5 yards per game and scoring 24.3 points in each game. The offense is not the problem for this team.

Peyton Manning showed last week that he is capable of having a productive game in the cold weather. This is something that has been a knock on him. He is coming off of a game in which he completed 39 of 59 pass attempts for 397 yards. More importantly, he threw four touchdowns and zero interceptions. The three headed receiving monster each accounted for touchdowns last week. They will be without their possession receiver, Wes Welker this week. He suffered his second concussion in four weeks. It needs to be noted that if he suffers a third concussion this season, he will be shut down as per league rules.

[airesizeimg src=”$-150×150$.jpg” alt=”Dominique+Rodgers+Cromartie+Denver+Broncos+jhz_6f__P0cx” class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-2524″ ]Key Matchups: Keenan Allen vs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie If the Chargers are going to keep pace with the Broncos, this is the matchup that they have to win. Champ Bailey is questionable for this game with a foot injury. As a result, Rodgers-Cromartie will be matched up against Allen. This is a classic battle of a physical, press corner against a big, strong receiver.

The Verdict: Broncos 42 Chargers 28

The Broncos are simply too strong for the Chargers on offense. They are averaging 465.6 yards per game. They are also scoring points at a fast break pace of 39.6 points per game. Julius Thomas will be more of a factor this game. Don’t be surprised if Manning goes to Jacob Tamme early and often this game. Tamme will serve as Manning’s possession receiver in place of the injured Wes Welker.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders

The Chiefs are coming off of a signature win over the Washington Redskins. It’s all about winning the field position battle, running the ball well, limiting turnovers and playing solid defense. They excelled at all of the above last week. They got touchdowns from their kickoff return and punt return units. Jamaal Charles ran for 150 yards as well. Alex Smith has continued to play efficient football and has even shown that he will take shots down field. That is proof that he is really settling into Andy Reid’s offense.

The Raiders are a mess at this point. They have wavered on their quarterbacks and now it seems that Matt McGloin will be their starter for the remaining three games. Rod Streater is quietly on pace for 1000 yards receiving despite the quarterback issues. They have found a solid running back in Rashad Jennings. Jennings is averaging 4.7 yards per carry. His arrival will allow them to eventually move on from Darren McFadden.

[airesizeimg src=”$-150×150$.jpg” alt=”Tamba+Hali+Kansas+City+Chiefs+v+Buffalo+Bills+MmN0PFPmx5Sx” class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-2525″ ]Key Matchups: Tamba Hali vs Jared Veldheer Hali is coming off of a two sack game last week. The Chiefs will look to force McGloin into making a mistake that will lead to a turnover. Hali is a tenacious pass rusher. He will give Veldheer all that he can handle on the left side. As we know, the left tackle has a job of protecting the quarterback’s blind side. Hali will spend a lot of time in the Raiders backfield and expect him to have another multiple sack game this week.

The Verdict: Chiefs 28 Raiders 17

The Chiefs need to win this game to keep pace with the Broncos. They are one game behind and would love to win the division and have home field advantage. This is a game that includes two teams that really don’t like each other. The Chiefs’ defense is just too much for the young quarterback, Matt McGloin. Their secondary will look to be physical with the young Raiders receivers. They will try to disrupt the timing in their routes and make the quarterback get happy feet which could result in an errant throw forced into coverage. The running game of the Chiefs will be the ticket offensively. The Raiders are giving up 105.9 yards per game while the Chiefs are gaining 113.2. Look for a big day from Jamaal Charles.


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