AFC West Report: Wild Wild West Weekend

With all four teams in the division banging heads against each other this weekend, the Denver Broncos can move one step closer to clinching the division with a win over Kansas City. San Diego will look to take care of their business against the Oakland Raiders at home.

With several marquee match-ups this weekend in the National Football League, the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos at Arrowhead ranks among the very best. Denver (9-2) has the second best mark in the NFL. The Chiefs (7-4) are starting to click in all phases and they hope to protect their home field turf and cut Denver's lead to just a game in the AFC West.

For the Broncos the scenario is very simple. Get a win in the hostile Kansas City environment and they'll eliminate any chance for the Chiefs to climb back into the division race. That will also keep the Chargers at bay if they win on Sunday afternoon. Denver will be two games up on them and their final regular season meeting could be meaningless in the standings. Also at stake today for Denver is a potential first round bye and a win will get them one step closer to that goal. A bye to the second round and home field will be huge for the Broncos hopes to make the AFC Championship game at Indianapolis.

Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer will have to continue to play at the top of his game against what seems to be an improved Kansas City defense. Plummer has a 0-4-lifetime record at Kansas City. His career passer rating is 56.8 at Arrowhead Stadium. Still the Broncos do have the 7th best offense in the NFL.

Both teams like to run the ball but it is certain that the Broncos will run the ball. They average 165.6 yards on the ground a game, which ranks 2nd best in the NFL. Tatum Bell will play this weekend so it will be interesting to see how the running back rotation comes to order. Ron Dayne is coming off the biggest game of his career and Mike Anderson, as always, has been solid this year.

The Broncos are currently riding a four game winning streak with their last loss coming in the Meadowland against the Giants 24-23.

In that heart breaking loss in New York, the Giants used a balance of pass and run to defeat Denver on the final play of the game. Today in Kansas City that could be the case again. Although the pass has come to form lately for the Chiefs offense, the Denver defense should also expect the Chiefs to run the ball, which means a big dose of Larry Johnson.

The past six game games against the Broncos the Chiefs are 5-1. In that span they're averaging 174.3 yards on the ground. The Chiefs have won 34 of their last 38 in Arrowhead during the month of December and have won 16 games in a row.

The Chiefs have the 5th best offense in the NFL and rank 4th against the run. The Broncos are 1st against the run and the Chiefs 5th against the run. This should be a true battle in the trenches with the toughest guys getting the win at the final whistle.

Even with the good numbers in the month of December, Chiefs quarterback Trent Green is only 2-5 against Denver in his last seven games. Eddie Kennison has three consecutive 100 yard receiving games against his former team. On December 26th the Broncos controlled the game throughout and won 30-10 over the Chiefs. Kick-off at Arrowhead Stadium will be at 3:15 CST.

The San Diego Chargers may be huge fans of the Chiefs on Sunday. Regardless of their divisional differences, the Chargers would benefit from a Chiefs win against the Broncos. Even though the two are fighting for a potential wild card slot today they're opponents could determine their respective playoff chances.

San Diego (7-4) trails Denver by a pair of games just as the Chiefs do. Really what the Chargers need to do is worry about their own business against the Oakland Raiders and don't think about anything that they don't have control over.

The Chargers come into the game after a huge win in overtime last week in Washington. So far on the season the Chargers are only 12 points away from being undefeated. Thanks to LaDainian Tomlinson's heroics in Washington the Chargers are still be in the hunt for the division crown.

Tomlinson has been a nightmare for Raiders. He averages 125.4 yards a game against the Raiders with 11 touchdowns in just nine career games. The Chargers have the 5th best offense in the NFL and are 2nd best in scoring offense. Tomlinson needs just one more touchdown to get to 20, which would set a new team record.

Drew Brees has 28 touchdowns in his last 11 home games. Of all the quarterbacks in the NFL Brees seems to be the one that flies below the radar more than any other; especially when he plays at home. A huge game would get the 5th year quarterback over 3000 yards for the season. He needs just 347 yards against a weak Raiders defense to get that mark. That's a feasible goal against the leagues 19th best defense and 21st against the pass. Charles Woodson is still out with a broken fibula.

The Raiders (4-7) are coming in to the game a little discouraged. As hard as they have played this year they have come out on the short end nearly every time. They are in a real tough spot in this nationally televised Sunday night game that will kick-off at 5:30 PST. A loss here and Norv Turner may be looking for another job next year. If the passing game looks bead Kerry Collins may be doing the same. Oh, and has anybody seen Randy Moss? He has performed a virtual disappearing act in the Raiders offense with only 38 catches on the season.

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