Monday Morning QB: All About The AFC West

On Sunday night the Denver Broncos put up their usual fight against the New England Patriots. They showed that New England is not quite as good as their 2-0 start indicated. With the victory in Foxboro, the Broncos appear to be the frontrunner in the division.

The Chiefs probably have an uphill battle for a wild card berth. The next four games should determine if the Chiefs contend for the AFC West title this year.

This was certainly an interesting weekend in the NFL. It's clear to me that it's almost impossible to predict who makes the playoffs. There are a number of 1-2 and 0-3 teams that could find themselves backing into the postseason come January.

The Chiefs hope to be one of them as they start their preparations for the 1-2 San Francisco 49ers this weekend. This is a must-win game for the Chiefs, who get a break over the next weeks after facing two playoff teams to start the year. After the 49ers on Sunday, the Chiefs travel to Arizona to face an underachieving Cardinals team that should be no match for KC's new and improved defense.

But with Trent Green still unavailable, these so called "easy wins" can't be taken for granted.

So what's going to happen on Sunday? Hopefully the Chiefs win while getting some help in the division. Looking ahead, each AFC West team will have some lumps to take.

Here's a look at the next four games within the division.

Denver Broncos:
After a bye week, the Broncos play back-to-back home games against the Baltimore Ravens and the hapless Oakland Raiders. Denver then travels to Cleveland to face the hard-luck Browns before returning to Invesco to face their nemesis, the Indianapolis Colts. The Broncos should be favored to beat the Raiders and Browns, but their shortcomings on offense don't bode well for wins against Baltimore and Indianapolis. A 2-2 outlook is the most likely.

The hardest thing to predict when it comes to Denver is how quarterback Jake Plummer will play down the stretch. Mike Shanahan has simplified the offense so much that it's not known if Plummer can come from behind in the fourth quarter.

San Diego Chargers:
Thanks to a fortuitous schedule, the Chargers had a pair of lay-ups to open the season against Oakland and Tennesse. San Diego's schedule gets a little tougher as they play three out of their next four games on the road.

The most difficult of that stretch comes this Sunday when the Chargers travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens. They then come home to play the Pittsburgh Steelers. After that, it's back-to-back road games at San Francisco and Kansas City. At best, I'll give them two wins. I'm not sold on Phillip Rivers at quarterback. Until he wins on the road against a solid team, I'm not convinced the Chargers made the right decision in letting Drew Brees go.

Kansas City Chiefs:
The road gets a little tougher for the Chiefs, but what appeared to be a daunting task at the beginning of the season now seems like a manageable four-game stretch that could put Kansas City back in the thick of the AFC West race.

As I mentioned before, the Chiefs host the 49ers this weekend. Even with Damon Huard at the helm, they have enough offense to win this game. San Francisco's defense was torched on Sunday for 38 points, and while their offense has done a decent job, they can't get into a shootout and expect to win on Sunday in Kansas City. The Chiefs then travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals. Kurt Warner has struggled to put up the big numbers this year, despite having a trio of amazing offensive weapons at his disposal. The Chiefs are the better team and they should win this game, evening their record at 2-2.

The hard part of this four-game stretch comes against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have struggled this season. Head Coach Bill Cowher is on the hot seat for the way he has handled Ben Roethlisberger. This game is not the surefire loss that many had chalked it up to be before the season. Going into Pittsburgh won't be easy, but if Trent Green returns he could give the team an emotional lift.

Hopefully, Kansas City's game against San Diego the following week is the icing on the cake. The Chiefs and Chargers usually split their regular season games, but the Chargers have given the Chiefs fits in recent years, even at Arrowhead.

If the Chiefs can win three out of four during this stretch, that would put them at 3-3 on the year. If no one else in the division gets hot, that would put them right in the thick of things.

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