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State of the AFC West at midseason: Five straight wins has Chargers on Chiefs heels

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San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The cream has risen to the top of the AFC West at the midseason mark. While the sludge has settled at the bottom. Early on there was a clear favorite to run away with the division, but not anymore. Two teams are looking playoff bound. Two are absolutely not.


Chiefs 8-1 (Div 3-0)

Chargers 6-2 (Div 1-1)

Broncos 3-6 (1-2)

Raiders 1-7 (0-2)

How we got here:

Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Cleveland Browns 37-21:

The Patrick Mahomes train just keeps chugging along at record breaking speeds, his Chiefs have only been defeated one time this season and it wasn’t on Sunday against the Browns. Mahomes went 23 of 32 passing for 375 yards (16.3 yards per completion!) with 3 touchdowns and one interception on a failed Hail Mary attempt at the end of the 1st half.

Kansas City started out with a 14-3 lead in the first quarter but the Browns came back with 2 touchdowns of their own in the 1st half that had another Chiefs touchdown sandwhiched between those scores. Those touchdowns had the Chiefs leading 21-15 at halftime though because the Browns failed on both of their 2 point conversion attempts.

However, the Chiefs offense showed why they are so tough to beat by score the first two touchdowns of the second half before the Browns scored another touchdown of their own with another failed 2 point conversion attempt. Kansas City tacked on one last field goal before stopping the Browns final 2 possessions with a turnover on downs and an interception to seal the win 37-21.

Los Angeles Chargers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 25-17:

Philip Rivers and the Chargers continued their hot streak too, they are winners of 5 straight games after starting the season at 1-2. This game was a lot less about Philip Rivers though and more about RB Melvin Gordon who averaged a whopping 7.1 yards per carry. Rivers himself did have two passing touchdowns but had a bit of an off day going just 13 of 26 passing for 228 yards.

The Seahawks actually got the first touchdown of the day on the opening drive but the Chargers matched that with an opening drive touchdown of their own, though now former kicker Caleb Sturgis missed the extra point. L.A. then one upped Seattle with a touchdown on their next offensive possession too (with a failed 2 point conversion) after the Seahawks went 3 and out on their second drive. They scored one more touchdown on their final drive of the half too, though the Seahawks managed to get a field goal with the final possession of the half to make the score 19-10 at the half.

In the 2nd half it was a whole lot of nothing for both teams, but the Chargers did eventually tack one more touchdown on thanks to an interception returned for a touchdown. Seattle added one more touchdown of their own after that but they’d get no closer than that. Caleb Sturgis missed the extra point on the Seahawks last touchdown and had a missed field goal as well, big points considering the Chargers only won 25-17.

Denver Broncos defeated by Houston Texans 19-17:

The Broncos faithful were surely were shaking their heads after this one, and the seat for head coach Vance Joseph just got a whole lot hotter. They actually very much should have won this game, but they missed a 51 yard field goal at the end of the game. That doesn’t sound like a big deal considering the difficulty of a 51 yarder, but the problem is they had plenty of time to get closer.

Case Keenum completed a big 18 yard pass on a 4th and 8 play with 50 seconds left in the 4th quarter to get Denver down to the Houston 37. They still had 43 seconds remaining to stay aggressive and get a much easier kick but they inexplicably went conservative. They completed a 5 yard pass and then ran the ball one time to the middle of the field and allowed the clock to run out.

Clearly they had a lot of faith in their field goal kicker Brandon McManus, but that was a pretty inexcusable end to a very close game. They felt safe with that long field goal attempt, but they lost when McManus’s kick sailed wide right. The game ended with that missed kick with Houston holding on for the 19-17 win.

Oakland Raiders defeated by San Francisco 49ers 34-3:

Sorry Raider Nation for making you relive this one, but the Raiders started out the week for the AFC West with a monstrosity of a game against the 49ers. Oakland did hold a lead in this game, but that’s the only positive that you can say and it only happened because they got a field goal on their opening possession.

After that it was all 49ers QB Nick Mullens who had one of the best debut performances in NFL history, and from a 3rd string undrafted QB at that. Mullens only needed to complete 16 passes on the day, but they were almost all big ones. He ended up 16 of 22 for 262 yards and no turnovers on the day.

They scored two of those touchdowns on his first two possessions of the game and therefore also his first two possessions of his career. They also added one field goal in the first half for a 17-3 lead at halftime. That was something that the Raiders could have possibly come back from if they had shown any heart at all.

Unfortunately, they didn’t show any heart and they didn’t score any points at all the rest of the way. San Francisco did though, they added another 17 points in the second half for 34 unanswered points on their way to an easy 34-3 win.