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AFC West Roundup, Week 16: Chargers Clinch, Broncos Lose More Than the Game

The Chargers punched their ticket to the playoffs while the Chiefs keep pace with Bills.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, the Los Angeles Chargers will make an appearance in the tournament this go-round. Although they’re replacing the Las Vegas Raiders as the AFC West’s wild card representative, little else has changed within the division.

The Kansas City Chiefs still sit at the top as they jockey with the Bills for the number one seed, and the Denver Broncos haven’t left their post in the basement of the division. For a fan base spoiled with the excitement of chasing Lombardi trophy’s, Broncos Country is forced to settle with the excitement of their seventh head coaching search in 13 years.

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

Denver Broncos vs Los Angeles Rams

Final Score: 14-51

Recap: It’s difficult to pinpoint the most embarrassing aspect of the Broncos blowout loss to the Rams on Christmas day. Was it the team’s $242 million quarterback throwing three interceptions, or the 51 points laid on them by the NFL’s second lowest scoring team? Was it Randy Gregory throwing a punch after the game, or Dalton Risner and Brett Rypien getting heated? Perhaps it was Nathaniel Hackett’s general presence on the sideline, but no matter which perspective you take, we can all agree it was a painful exclamation point on a lost season. The first five possessions of the game set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. The Rams opened with a field goal, followed by a Russell Wilson interception which led to a Rams touchdown. Déjà vu struck as Wilson tossed another one to the defense, and the Rams offense put it into the endzone two plays later.

Denver responded with an 8-play drive resulting in three points to get on the board, making somewhat of an effort to get back into the game. Instead of that happening, the Rams put up another seven points as Baker Mayfield, in his third game with the team, threw his second touchdown of the first half. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, a three and out for Denver was followed by yet another Rams touchdown drive, with Cam Akers tallying his second score. Another Broncos field goal to end the half made it a 31-6 game at the break, and virtually all hope was lost.

The second half started just as the first, with a Wilson interception. Although the Broncos eventually found the endzone, the Rams kicked two field goals and scored a touchdown on their three full possessions in the second half. Adding insult to injury, they returned a Brett Rypien interception 86 yards to the house, closing out the game 51-14. The Broncos gave up 118 yards and three touchdowns to Cam Akers, and a 124.7 rating to Baker Mayfield. Jerry Jeudy caught six passes for 117 yards in the only respectable performance for the Broncos offense. We’re on to the Chiefs and the Jerry Rosburg era.

Injuries: N/A

Week 17 Matchup: Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs

Seattle Seahawks vs Kansas City Chiefs

Final Score: 10-24

Recap: The Chiefs led a slow and methodical game throughout its entirety, beginning with a touchdown on their second drive of the game. After a handful of punts traded back and forth, the Chiefs took a 14-point lead after a seven-play drive midway through the second quarter. Patrick Mahomes stayed true to his word that different pass catchers would benefit from week to week, as his first touchdown went to Kadarius Toney and the second to Jerick McKinnon. KC and Seattle would trade field goals prior to the end of the first half, leaving the score 17-3 in favor of the Chiefs.

In the second half, Seattle opened with a punt, two turnovers on downs, and an interception. The interception led to another score from Mahomes, this time on the ground and he ran it in from three yards out. Finally, Seattle got the ball moving on offense, but it would prove too little too late. A Noah Fant touchdown with just over two minutes made it a 24-10 game, which is how it would end. Mahomes was sharp in this one, throwing for 224 yards and two scores, Travis Kelce dominated with 118 yards, and the Chiefs are rolling again.

Injuries: N/A

Week 17 Matchup: Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Final Score: 10-13

Recap: The Raiders opened Saturday night’s contest with a 14-play touchdown drive, capped by a Hunter Renfrow reception from Derek Carr. Don’t let the strong start fool you, however, this would be a slow game in the freezing cold Pittsburgh night. Both offenses failed to get anything going for much of the first half, with the Steelers missing a field goal before knocking one through the uprights with 1:49 left in the half. The Raiders responded with a 53-yard drive to close the half, netting another three points, and taking a 10-3 lead.

The second half was much of the same as the first six possessions resulted in three interceptions, two punts, and another Steelers missed field goal. Despite the miss, Pittsburgh would rebound with a made field goal on their next drive before a couple of Raiders punts. That’s when Kenny Pickett led a 10-play, 76-yard game winning touchdown drive. After converting a fourth and one at the 15-yard line, Pickett hit George Pickens for six on the next play, leaving the Raiders with just 46 seconds. A Derek Carr interception would close the game out, with the Raiders falling to 6-9 on the season.

Injuries: Chandler Jones (elbow), Denzel Perryman (shoulder)

Week 17 Matchup: Las Vegas Raiders vs San Francisco 49ers

Los Angeles Chargers vs Indianapolis Colts

Final Score: 20-3

Recap: There have been some bad offenses around the NFL this season, especially right here in Denver. I’m not sure we’ve seen anything worse than what we witnessed from the Colts on Monday, however, as Nick Foles got the nod at quarterback over Matt Ryan. The Chargers were anything but sharp, but they didn’t need to be in this one. As many of the AFC West games did, the contest began with a series of punts and turnovers. The first seven possessions featured two punts and two interceptions from the Colts, and two punts and one interception from the Chargers. Finally, with 8:41 left in the second quarter, Austin Ekeler punched one in for six after a 13-play drive. The Colts were finally able to move the ball, taking it 60 yards in eight plays for a field goal. The Chargers, now in rhythm, closed the half with three of their own to take a 10-3 lead with them into the locker room.

The second half was even more brutal than the first for Indianapolis, as the team started with an interception, followed by a punt, and then closed with three straight turnovers on downs. Sandwiched in the middle was some sloppy play from LA, but they did manage to kick a field goal and muster up another touchdown for Ekeler. The game would end there, with a 20-3 score in favor of the Chargers. Ekeler’s two touchdowns were the only two of the game, but the Keenan Allen and Mike Williams duo was effective, combining for 180 yards.

Injuries: Derwin James (concussion), Zander Horvath (ankle)

Week 17 Matchup: Los Angeles Rams @ Los Angeles Chargers

Predictions for Week 17

With the Broncos game being my only miss last week, my record on the season stands at 25-20.

I said that the Rams are a bad football team and thought the Broncos would win. I suppose I underestimated how bad the Broncos are. We often see teams rally around a change at the head coaching position, so maybe we can - oh that’s right, Denver travels to Kansas City this week. Give me the Chiefs at home. The Chargers will take care of business against their neighbors and the Raiders will fall short in San Francisco. In short, I’m taking the two good teams in the division to win, and the two bad teams to lose.

What are your predictions for week 17? Let us know in the comments!