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State of the AFC West after Week 15: Chargers and Chiefs tied at the top, Broncos officially eliminated

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It was definitely an eventful week across the AFC West as the 2018 season enters the home stretch. This week the Kansas City Chiefs had a chance to clinch the division with a win against the Chargers, but now need a Chargers loss to Baltimore and a win in order to clinch before the final week. It looks like there is a very good chance that the two best teams in the AFC will be from the West, and whoever loses the division won’t even get to play a home playoff game.

On the flip side, the Denver Broncos lost to the Cleveland Browns and were officially eliminated from the playoff hunt. As for the Oakland Raiders, they lost and won this week because while they didn’t win against the Bengals they did take over the 2nd overall pick in the draft thanks to a 49ers upset victory over the Seahawks.


Kansas City Chiefs 11-3 (DIV 4-1)

Los Angeles Chargers 11-3 (DIV 3-2)

Denver Broncos 6-8 (DIV 2-2)

Oakland Raiders 3-11 (DIV 0-4)

How we got here:

Los Angeles Chargers beat Kansas City Chiefs 29-28:

This was one hell of a game with the Chiefs actually starting out with a 14 point lead in the first quarter, only to find themselves on the losing end when it was all said and done. The most surprising part of the comeback was that the Chargers managed to make up that difference even though they did not force any turnovers while Philip Rivers threw 2 interceptions himself in this game.

When it mattered most the Chargers went to their first round rookie WR Mike Williams though, he finished the day with 7 receptions for 76 yards with 2 touchdowns. That’s not the most impressive part though, that would be that one of those touchdowns came on the last play of the game and was followed up with the game winning 2 point conversion reception as well.

With the win the Chargers are now tied with the Chiefs for 1st place in the division, but they lose the tie breaker so they will need the Chiefs to lose another game in order to win the title. That means the Chiefs control their own destination, they can solidify the top seed in the AFC by winning their final two games.

Next Opponent (Chargers): Baltimore Ravens

Next Opponent (Chiefs): Seattle Seahawks

Denver Broncos lost to Cleveland Browns 17-16:

This game was decided by one of the worst decisions from a coach this season when Vance Joseph decided to kick a field goal while down by 4 in the final 5 minutes of the game despite being all the way down at the Cleveland 6 yard line. In that case almost every coach would have decided to play for the TD because either way they’d have needed to get a stop from the defense.

Even had they turned it over on downs the Browns would have been in a tough spot backed up by their own goal line, increasing the chances of getting another opportunity with the ball with good field position. As bad of a decision as it was to kick the field goal, they did actually get the ball back with plenty of time to score though so maybe there was some merit to Joseph’s thinking. However, The Broncos started at their own 13 yard line with their final drive with 1:53 remaining and turned the ball over after only being able to gain 26 yards.

The loss eliminated the Broncos from the playoffs, but the Browns are still technically alive after the win. It would take a miracle for them to get in but even just still being alive after the firing of former Raiders coach Hue Jackson sparked a huge turnaround for the Factory of Sadness is a success for them.

Next Opponent: Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders lost to Cincinnati Bengals 30-16:

Already guaranteed to be last in the division, the Raiders loss to the Bengals is probably better for them in the long run. They actually had a nice comeback after starting out the game down 17-0 but after getting within a touchdown the Bengals closed out the game with two more scores of their own.

Derek Carr had an alright day going 21 of 38 passing for 263 yards and a TD but it wasn’t nearly enough for a victory. He did set the franchise record for games without an interception with this being his 8th straight game without throwing one, but he did have his 6th lost fumble on the year with yet another strip sack. He did get a lot of help from his kicker Daniel Carlson who went 3 for 3 again with his field goals including a 50 yarder and a 40 yard field goal that brought the score to 23-16.

Unfortunately the kickoff after that field goal was returned 77 yards for the back breaker in this one, leading to a very quick touchdown for the Bengals to push the game out of reach after it looked like Oakland may have earned the momentum. They did gain momentum for next year’s draft with the loss though, solidifying their spot as 2nd overall after the 49ers upset win against Seattle.

Next Opponent: Denver Broncos