I counted Denver out of the AFC West race sometime about July. I haven't really admitted they were back in it until this week. I keep expecting them to fail, and they just keep winning.
As a testament to my worry, I compared their schedules.
Week 13: Raiders @ Dolphins - Broncos @ Vikings
Analysis: The Dolphins have been playing much better of late. Their defense has been rock solid, and they owned the Raiders last year.
The Vikings on the other hand are still struggling, and they will most likely be without Adrian Peterson again.
Week 14: Raiders @ Packers - Broncos vs. Bears
Analysis: The Broncos and Bears game could end 6-4. Scoring will be scarce. In other words, it is exactly what the Broncos want.
Week 15: Raiders vs. Lions - Broncos vs. Patriots
Analysis: The Raiders defense matchups fairly well with the Lions offense. They don't have a good run game, and their pass protection is spotty.
Meanwhile, the Broncos do not appear to match up well at all with the Patriots.
Week 16: Raiders @ Chiefs - Broncos @ Bills
Analysis: The Bills are falling apart. The Chiefs are falling apart. The Bills showed a little life next week, but they are a train wreck. The Chiefs defense was great last week, but their offense is stuck in permanent "abysmal.".
Week 17: Raiders vs. Chargers - Broncos vs. Chiefs
Analysis: Throw out all analysis for these two matchups. If the Chiefs and Chargers are playing with the possibility of knocking their bitter rivals from the playoffs, then anything can happen.
The Broncos have two weeks with a better matchup to the Raiders one. The Broncos are a game back, and they just keep winning.
The difference in schedule is not enough for this to come down to the team that plays better.
If the Broncos keep playing like they are they will win four of the next five. They only play one team with a legit offense, and the way they are rattling off low scoring wins now you have to like them in what will be four low scoring contests.
I see the Broncos going 3-2. They can't win every close game can they? That means 10-6 will get the Raiders the AFC West crown.
Oakland needs to get this next game with the Dolphins. Otherwise, they'll be facing the reality that they nee to go 3-1 to get to that 10-win mark. With a trip to Green Bay looming, that is a disfigured proposition.
If the Raiders slip up here, they will 7-6 before we know it, and have to win out. That's too much drama. Time for Hue and his boys to keep the pedal to the medal and finding ways to win.