By throttling the Chiefs, 31-0, the Chargers cut their divisional deficit in half. They now trail Kansas City by one game and -- if San Diego wins out -- would win any tiebreaker, regardless of which game the Chiefs lose.
The schedule also favors the Chargers, who play their third straight home game on Thursday against the San Francisco 49ers. A San Diego victory would dump loads of heat on the Chiefs, who play on the road this week against the NFC West co-leaders, the St. Louis Rams.
The Rams are 4-2 at home and the Chiefs are 2-5 on the road. Kansas City knows if it falls from first place this week there is no bouncing back. The Chargers' final two games are against the Bengals and Broncos, teams with a combined 5-21 record.
The Raiders, who swept the Chargers this year after losing the previous 13 meetings, are done. They fell in Jacksonville, 38-31, handing Oakland a dreaded seventh loss. Given the strength of the AFC, it will take at least 10 wins to qualify for the postseason.
The Raiders still have games versus the Indianapolis Colts and at Kansas City, so they will be lucky to reach .500.
The AFC West doormat, the Broncos, also lost Sunday. They were embarrassed by the Arizona Cardinals, 43-13. Yes, the same Cardinals who had lost their previous seven games.
Denver has long since been removed from the playoff picture. But the Broncos' loss still helps on two fronts: 1) it is clear this team has quit on the season, which is good news for the Bolts, who wrap up their season in Denver; and 2) it is always good to see a divisional rival down.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.
AFC West Recap, Week 14
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