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Winning The AFC West In Two Easy Steps

Well, not so easy, but the Broncos do have the easiest road the rest of the season.  Of course, road is the perfect word because after tonight the Broncos will play 2/3 of their remaining schedule on the road, including in Chicago next Sunday.  By beating the Titans tonight, the Broncos put themselves right back in the middle of the race.  In a division that appears up for grabs by whichever team can simply end up at .500, the Broncos will have the easiest remaining schedule of the three teams left in the AFC West fray.  Let's look deeper at the schedules for all three --

  DENVER -- @CHI(4-6), @OAK(2-8), KC(4-6), @ HOU(5-5), @SD(5-5), MIN(4-6)

Combined Record -- 24-36(.400)

Thoughts -- The Broncos have the easiest road, but any team that have been as inconsistent as Denver knows it will not be easy.  With 4 of the 6 games on the road, including trips to Chicago and San Diego, the Broncos know they will have to keep playing their best if they hope to steal a division title.  of course, I'd be foolish not to mention a trip to Houston and a meeting with old friend Gary Kubiak.  The Texans are 3-0 when Andre Johnson is in the lineup, and no one knows the Broncos better than Kubs.  Even the trip to Oakland won't be a day in the park, unless of course the Broncos can get a healthy Javon Walker back to add to a continually improving offense.

  SAN DIEGO -- BAL(4-6), @KC(4-6), @TEN(6-4), DET(6-4), DEN(5-5), @OAK(2-8)

Combined Record -- 27-33(.450)

Thoughts -- While on paper the Chargers record might look tougher, is it in reality?  The Chargers toughest opponents all have to come out to San Diego, including our matchup with the Chargers on Christmas Eve.  Detroit has been two different teams this season, and hasn't won since dicing up the Orange and Blue 44-7.  The road games will be where the Chargers succeed or fail.    A tough trip to Kansas City is immediately followed by a trip to Tennessee.  The Chargers have yet to prove at any point the past 3 or 4 years that they are a mentally tough team and they could easily lose both of those games.  We shouldn't expect much help from Oakland, so it is imperative that we hold a 2-game advantage heading into our holiday match-up in San Diego.  

  KANSAS CITY -- OAK(2-8), SD(5-5), @DEN(5-5), TEN(6-4), @DET(6-4), @NYJ(2-8)

Combined Record -- 26-34(.433)

Thoughts -- The Chiefs have it hardest of all, though their opponents records don't show it.  K.C. needs to make up a game somewhere just to get into a tie.  They should dispose of Oakland this weekend before facing the Chargers.  They beat San Diego earlier in the year and I could see the Chiefs doing it again because they do such a good job getting pressure on the quarterback.  While they lost to the Colts in Indy this past Sunday, teh Chiefs proved they are still a formidable opponent.  After the Chargers, the Chiefs end their tour of the AFC West by traveling to Denver.  The Broncos have owned this series at home and I expect the Broncos to win that matchup as well.  The true test for the Chiefs will be two tough road games to end the season.  We saw first hand what the Lions can do, and just ask the Steelers how easy it is to beat the jets in the Meadowlands.

There aren't many juggernauts on any of the remaining schedules for the three teams battling it out for the AFC West divisional crown.  I firmly believe 9-7 will win the division, so you start looking for the wins and losses.  I think San Diego will lose at least two -- @KC and @ TEN -- meaning if we take care of our business we can head to San Diego in solid shape, regardless of the outcome.  Am I giving that game away?  Not at all, but the recent history suggests that the Chargers do have the advantage.   It matters little if the Broncos can't win these next two road games.  If they can find a way, there might be some post-season magic this season yet.