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AFC West Roundup, Week 15: West Goes 4-0

The AFC West picked up four wins by a combined 24 points.

NFL: New England Patriots at Las Vegas Raiders Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos won the battle of the backup quarterbacks between Brett Rypien and Colt McCoy/Trace McSorley by nine points, while the other three teams snuck out victories by a combined 15 points. The Kansas City Chiefs topped the Houston Texans in overtime, the Los Angeles Chargers took a lead with four seconds left, and the Las Vegas Raiders won on the final play of the game. After a load of drama, nothing has changed within the division standings.

AFC West Standings

Team W L T Div. Conf.
Team W L T Div. Conf.
Kansas City Chiefs 13 3 0 5-0 8-3
Los Angeles Chargers 10 6 0 2-3 7-4
Las Vegas Raiders 6 10 0 3-2 5-6
Denver Broncos 4 12 0 0-5 2-9

Arizona Cardinals vs Denver Broncos

Final Score: 15-24

Recap: The Broncos opened the game with a field goal on the first drive, giving Broncos Country hope for an explosive first half. After a couple Cardinals field goals, Denver trailed 6-3 at the half and the optimism surrounding the offense all but evaporated. With Arizona kicking another field goal to start the second half and taking a 9-3 lead, it felt all too familiar with another game full of field goals. The game turned when Denver took the next possession 80 yards, capped by a Marlon Mack three-yard touchdown run to put the team ahead 10-9. Although Rypien would throw an interception on the team’s final third quarter possession, the team put the game away handedly in the fourth quarter. A six play, 56-yard drive early in the fourth quarter featured 16 yards passing, 40 yards rushing, and a Latavius Murray touchdown to put Denver up 17-9. With Arizona’s struggles on offense, this may well have been enough to put the Cardinals away. If it wasn’t enough, a Justin Simmons interception followed by another Broncos touchdown would be. Denver’s offense only needed to travel five yards for this score, but it gave Brett Rypien his first score of the game as he hit Eric Tomlinson for a three-yard touchdown. Although the Cardinals would find the endzone with six minutes remaining, Patrick Surtain put the game on ice with an interception, sealing the 24-15 win with 55 seconds remaining.

Injuries: Quinn Mienerz (eye), Tom Compton (back), Dakota Allen (IR), Darius Phillips (IR)

Week 16 Matchups: Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots vs Las Vegas Raiders

Final Score: 24-30

Recap: The Raiders took control of the game early, jumping out to three-point lead to start the contest. The Patriots tied it at up shortly after with a field goal of their own, but Vegas scored two touchdowns to retake the lead, and stretch it out to 17-3. First it was Darren Waller after an 11-play drive, while Mack Hollins scored the second touchdown after a blocked punt left Vegas with a short field. As we know, leads are not safe with the Raiders and that would prove true again as a pick six early in the second half brought the Patriot to within a touchdown. A couple New England field goals made it a 16-17 game, and that’s when things got weird. The Pats put together a three play, 78-yard touchdown drive with a 39-yard pass play to Jakobi Meyers followed by a 34-yard run from Rhamondre Stevenson for six. After a successful two-point conversion, the Patriots led by seven. Just when it seemed that the Raiders would turn another big lead into a loss, the team went 81 yards to tie it up with just 32 seconds on the clock. As everybody prepared for overtime, the most head scratching play of the season took place. Rhamondre Stevenson took a handoff with 10 seconds remaining and the Vegas defense in full prevent mode. After picking up 10 yards, Stevenson tosses the ball back to Jakobi Meyers who briefly runs around before delivering a backwards pass across the field, intended for Mac Jones. Instead, Chandler Jones stepped in front of Jones, catches the ball, and proceeds to stiff arm the quarterback on his way to the end zone for the game winning score.

Injuries: Dylan Parham (knee), Darien Butler (rib)

Week 16 Matchup: Las Vegas Raiders @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee Titans vs Los Angeles Chargers

Final Score: 14-17

Recap: As much as things change, the Chargers are destined to remain an enigma forever. After forcing an immediate three and out on the Titans opening possession, the Chargers pieced together a methodical 14 play drive consisting of 8:11 of game time. It was Joshua Kelley who found the endzone from one yard out, but the drive featured a mixture of he and Austin Ekeler, with sprinkles from Justin Herbert throughout. They made it look rather easy, which is what makes it confusing that the Bolts punted twice and threw an interception on their other three drives of the first half. They also allowed a 63-yard touchdown drive to the Titans in the second quarter, mainly consisting of a 37-yard Derrick Henry catch and run. Ryan Tannehill exited the series prior due to an ankle injury but returned shortly after, though he played at far less than 100% the rest of the game. The 7-7 tie would take us into the fourth quarter before the Chargers found their footing on offense again. Austin Ekeler put the team ahead 14-7 with a three-yard touchdown run thanks in large part to the favorable field position left by a Titans missed field goal. With one last chance to keep their hopes alive, Tennessee drove 74 yards in just over two minutes to knot the game at 14. It was an impressive, 11-play drive that left the Chargers just 48 seconds to make a play before overtime. With a need to put their foot on the gas, the Chargers made it look easy. Six plays and 52 yards later, they were lining up for the game winning kick, which Cameron Dicker sailed through the uprights with four seconds remaining.

Injuries: Kemon Hall (hamstring)

Week 16 Matchup: Los Angeles Chargers @ Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs vs Houston Texans

Final Score: 30-24

Recap: Everybody and their mother was predicting a Chiefs win on Sunday, but nobody saw it taking five quarters. It was a slow start for both teams until the Texans lit the scoreboard first with an 80-yard touchdown drive at the end of the first quarter. It was a surprising start, but the Chiefs quickly turned around and evened it up with a 75-yard drive of their own, with a Jerick McKinnon touchdown. Following a Houston punt, Isaiah Pacheco put one on the turf on the first play of the Chiefs next drive, which is becoming a habit of his. The Texans not only recovered but found the endzone two plays later and suddenly we had a competitive game on our hands. The Chiefs offense looked like themselves again to close out the first half, posting a 97-yard touchdown drive to make it a 13-14 game in favor of Houston. Somehow, someway the Texans took a lead into halftime and every time you thought that the Chiefs would pull away, the Texans were ready to strike back. KC kicked a field goal on it’s opening possession of the second half to take a 16-14 lead, but after punting on their possession, Houston forced another fumble before regaining the lead. A 49-yard drive made it 21-16, but again, the Chiefs would answer with an 84-yard touchdown drive. You wouldn’t be alone if you were finally ready to count the Texans out, trailing 24-21 in the fourth quarter. They were able to tie it up but left plenty of time for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. Uncharacteristically, the Chiefs couldn’t pull it out as they missed a 51-yard field goal, taking us into overtime. KC would receive the opening kickoff, moving the ball 36 yards before stalling on offense. Would the Texans actually be able to pull this thing out? A Davis Mills fumble on the team’s first offensive play answered that question in a hurry, as it took just one play for the Chiefs to find the end zone and put the game away, 30-24.

Injuries: Jody Fortson (elbow)

Week 16 Matchup: Seattle Seahawks @ Kansas City Chiefs

Predictions for Week 16

Heading into week 16, my record on the season stands at 22-19.

I picked the Broncos to win last week, but only if Russell Wilson played – so I take the L there. Maybe I should pick them to lose again, it worked last week. I don’t think it matters this week, because the Rams are a bad football team and the Broncos have something going on here. Momentum, I think is what we used to call it. Give me the Broncos on Christmas. I like the Chiefs at home against Seattle, and while I think it will be a close one, give me the Chargers in Indi. Can the AFC West go 4-0 in back-to-back weeks? Doubtful, I’ll take Pittsburgh at home over the Raiders.

What are your predictions for week 16? Let us know in the comments!