AFC West Report: Advantage Still Broncos

Both the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers grabbed that much needed victory to cut into Denver's division lead, but it may be a case of too little too late. The schedules for both the Chiefs and Chargers are far more difficult than the Broncos.

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos in one of the best games of the season 31-27 last Sunday in Arrowhead. It was just what the Chiefs needed, as it was for their other division rival Chargers gaining a game on the Broncos who led the division by two games before Saturday started. Both the Chiefs and Chargers will have to forget about their accomplishment quickly as both of their schedules are a murderers row of who's who in the NFL.

Kansas City will have to travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys this Sunday in what might be considered a playoff game for both teams. The Cowboys (7-5) come into the game tied for the last wild card spot in the NFC and a game back of the division leading New York Giants.

The Cowboys are coming off two consecutive losses one to Denver and the other to the New York Giants. This marks the first time they have lost back-to-back games this season. Bill Parcells team is a wounded animal fighting for their playoff lives and that is not a good thing for the visiting Chiefs on Sunday.

After the Dallas game the Chiefs will have to travel to the Giants on a short week to play a Saturday afternoon game. The Giants are in a much better position with their division lead but they have Dallas and Washington breathing down their necks. They are still looking to gain some ground as they are fighting for home field advantage in the playoffs. So they still have lots to play for a week from Saturday.

Also going against the Chiefs will be that the Giants have only lost one home game so far on the season. While the Giants are in contention, the New Jersey Meadowlands will be a tough environment for any opponent. The Giants average 27.3 points in the eight games they played at the Meadowlands this year. In Week 2 the Saints and Giants played a Saints home game in the Meadowlands during the fallout of Hurricane Katrina.

On Christmas Eve the Chiefs will host the Chargers. Simply, San Diego has one of the best offenses in the NFL. In Week eight the Chiefs lost to the Bolts 28-20 in San Diego. The NFL might no be bringing Santa Clause to town but rather the Grinch that stole a playoff spot the way the Chiefs schedule is setting up.

To cap off the season at home the Chiefs will play the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincinnati (9-3) currently has the second best record in the AFC along with Denver. Chad Johnson has already proclaimed his team unstoppable on it's way to the AFC Championship game with the Bengals ready to put up 40 points a game. The Bengals play Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo before the Chiefs so their confidence will likely be at an all-time high when they roll into Kansas City in Week 17.

The San Diego Chargers don't have it that much easier than the Chiefs. The Chargers will get a Miami Dolphin team that has won two in a row at home this weekend. The Dolphins (5-7) are technically still in the hunt for the playoffs trailing the New England Patriots by two games in the AFC East.

Last Sunday Miami overcame a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter before Sage Rosenfels hit Chris Chambers for the game winning score on fourth down with :06 left in the game. The week before the Dolphins went into Oakland and man handled the Raiders. At the time the Raiders were still thinking of possibly making the playoffs.

After Miami the Chargers will hit the road for undefeated Indianapolis. The Colts have a tough game this week in Jacksonville but they can wrap up home field throughout the playoffs this Sunday. It's questionable how the Colts will approach the undefeated season if they clinch home field throughout. If the Colts have to play starters the entire game against San Diego this promises to be a top five game this season.

San Diego will hit the road again to play the Chiefs on Christmas Eve. The loser of this game may not only be home for the holidays but perhaps home for the post-season as well. The Chargers will finish up with a home game against the Broncos. If all goes right for the Chargers this game could very well be for the division.

The Broncos will host Baltimore this weekend and then will travel to Buffalo for a Sunday night game. They will then finish off the season with Oakland at home and then the Chargers in San Diego. Before the San Diego game the combined records of the Denver opponents is 12-24, including the Chargers it's 20-28. The Chiefs opponents have a combined record of 32-16. The Chargers opponents tally a record of 31-17.

The Oakland Raiders (4-8) appear to be looking toward the future. Marques Tuiasosopo will start Sunday against the New York Jets according to coach Norv Turner. He told Kerry Collins that he was trying to find a spark and it had to be the quarterback as opposed to a defensive tackle. The Raiders will finish out their schedule with Cleveland at home, at Denver and the home finale against the Giants. They will hope to get to 8-8 to somewhat salvage their season.

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