Jerry Rosburg made his debut as interim head coach of the Denver Broncos with a tall task at Arrowhead. Denver battled with the momentum and inspiration that comes from a coaching change, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Kansas City Chiefs proved superior by the final whistle, but if you believe in moral victories then you’re in luck.
The Los Angeles Chargers hosted their landlords and dominated a game they should have. Despite strong quarterback play from Jaret Stidham, the Las Vegas Raiders were unable to finish the job. As we near the end of the regular season, the Chiefs and Chargers stand far beyond the Broncos and Raiders. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
AFC West Standings
|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 vs Kansas City Chiefs
Final Score: 24-27
Recap: The game started similarly to what we’ve grown accustomed to as we saw Corliss Waitman make an appearance on the fourth play of the game. The Broncos went three and out on their first possession but would pick up one first down on their second drive before getting Waitman on the field. Sandwiched in between was a 10-play drive from Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, capped off by an Isaiah Pacheco touchdown plunge. A failed two-point attempt left the game at 6-0, but it was difficult not to assume the worst was on the way.
The Broncos, however, had other plans as they got on the board with a 49-yard field goal early in the second quarter. Kansas City quickly marched down the field, looking to impose its dominance but Justin Simmons stepped in front of a Mahomes pass in the endzone, giving Denver possession with a chance to take the lead. Although they would punt yet again, a Kadarius Toney muffed punt gave the offense a second chance. One play and 16 Russell Wilson rushing yards later, and the Broncos had the lead, 10-6. It lasted just seven plays before Mahomes put the ball in the endzone and gave the lead back to KC, 13-10. It began to feel like the Broncos had a legitimate chance to win the game when they took a 17-13 lead in the second quarter. Albert Okwuegbunam reemerged from the shadows, snagging a 25-yard pass from Wilson.
After forcing a Chiefs punt, it appeared the Broncos were on their way to taking control of the game before the refs intervened. On 3rd and 11 from their own 16-yard line, Wilson completed a deep ball downfield to Courtland Sutton, who has called for a phantom pass interference. The completion would have set Denver up with a first down on the Chiefs 40-yard line, but instead were handed a 3rd and 19 at their eight-yard line. The Chiefs put one in the endzone on their next drive and again the following drive after a Wilson interception. A 17-13 lead, with the potential of growing to 24-13, all of a sudden turned into a 27-17 deficit. Wilson ran for another score on Denver’s next possession, but it wouldn’t be enough. A turnover on downs closed out their final possession and the game would end 27-24. Despite putting up a good fight, Denver falls short to Kansas City and as much as things change, they stay the same.
Injuries: PJ Locke (ankle), Damarri Mathis (concussion)
Week 18 Matchup: Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos
San Francisco 49ers vs Las Vegas Raiders
Final Score: 37-34
Recap: Josh McDaniels is up to his old tricks, benching franchise quarterback Derek Carr and going with the unproven Jaret Stidham. To his credit, Stidham responded well leading a touchdown drive on the opening possession of the game. The two teams traded scores on each of their first two drives, resulting in a 14-10 49ers lead. Just as we all predicted, we had a Brock Purdy and Jaret Stidham shootout on our hands. Stidham proved to be the answer, for now, leading a go-ahead touchdown with 10 seconds left on the clock and the Raiders took a 17-14 lead into halftime. Another Jaret Stidham to Davante Adams touchdown early in the second quarter put the Raiders in control with a 10-point lead. The 49ers answered quickly with a Christian McCaffrey touchdown, representing the way the entire second half would go. It was a back-and-forth affair that featured a total of 71 points, including 40 in the second half as the teams traded scores all the way to the final whistle. With the game knotted at 34, Stidham was gifted an opportunity to be the hero. Instead, he was intercepted on the first drive of overtime leading to a 49ers field goal and victory, 37-34.
Injuries: Darien Butler (concussion), Jaret Stidham (elbow), Josh Jacobs (hip)
Week 18 Matchup: Kansas City Chiefs @ Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Rams vs Los Angeles Chargers
Final Score: 10-31
Recap: The Rams took a 3-0 lead on their second possession, putting together an impressive 13-play, 81-yard drive. The Chargers, however, went 75 yards in five plays to take a 7-3 lead and the game was never in doubt again. They would double up with another touchdown on their next drive, courtesy of an Austin Ekeler 72-yard touchdown scamper. Although the Rams made it interesting with a touchdown of their own from Malcolm Brown, the Chargers never surrendered the lead back. They kicked a field goal to close the first half and put another touchdown on the board to start the second, making it four consecutive drives with points. One more touchdown down the stretch made it a 31-10 lead, and both teams were left going through the motions and waiting for the final whistle to sound.
Week 18 Matchup: Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos
Predictions for Week 18
After going 3 for 3 last week, my record is up to 28-20. With more divisional matchups on tap next week, we’ve got just two games to pick. I’ve stated all season that the division is clearly divided between the top two and the bottom two, making the picks easy this week. Despite Denver’s positive play and possible momentum, it’s too difficult to see them knocking off LA. Give me the Chargers and the Chiefs in the final week of the regular season.
What are your predictions for week 18? Let us know in the comments!