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AFC West Roundup, Week 17: The Chiefs clinch it

Even in a down year the Chiefs still manage to win the AFC West

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Another regular season is coming to a close, and while it took longer than usual, the Kansas City Chiefs are still the reigning division champs for the eighth year in a row. Maybe they’ll finally take the back seat next season.

But the good news is that the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders were eliminated from playoff contention before the Denver Broncos were and Denver still has a chance to finish the year with a winning record for the first time since 2016.

Let’s take a look at how everything went down this week.

AFC West Standings

Team W L T Div. Conf.
Team W L T Div. Conf.
Kansas City Chiefs 11 6 0 4-2 9-3
Las Vegas Raiders 8 9 0 4-2 6-6
Denver Broncos 8 9 0 3-3 5-7
Los Angeles Chargers 5 12 0 1-5 3-9

Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos

Final score: 9-16

Recap: The thing everyone was talking about was how much better would the offense look with Jarrett Stidham at quarterback instead of Russell Wilson. Well, we got our answer: not that much better, if better at all. In fact, I think it was worse (but that is without Courtland Sutton). But, of course, this quarterback carries a contract that is a whole lot cheaper.

This was a defensive effort all the way through with there only being one touchdown scored by either team. But that lone touchdown was one of the best ones that you’ll see all year. Stidham stepped up in the pocket on third down and got the ball to Lil’Jordan Humphrey on an intermediate pass over the middle, and then Humphrey proceeded to make five defenders look silly en route to the endzone. This was a tremendous effort by Humphrey that was aided by a good pocket presence by Stidham and a little downfield blocking by Jerry Jeudy and Michael Burton.

The defense clamped down after last week’s performance, holding the Chargers to just one red zone appearance that resulted in a field goal, forced a fumble, and forced a turnover on downs early in the game. It could have been cleaner, but a good showing nonetheless.

Injury concerns: RT Mike McGlinchey suffered a rib injury in the first quarter and FS Delarrin Turner-Yell suffered a knee injury in the first quarter.

Week 18 matchup: Denver Broncos @ Las Vegas Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers

Las Vegas Raiders @ Indianapolis Colts

Final score: 20-23

Recap: The Raiders’ comeback attempt in this one fell just short at the end and their playoff hopes are officially over. Maybe things would have been different for them if they weren’t playing from behind the entire game.

Things started well for the Colts as they scored a touchdown on the first possession of the game for a six-play, 75-yard statement that was capped off by a Jonathan Taylor rushing score. The Raiders would counter with a field goal on the following drive, but then we had to witness six straight punts by both teams, three of which were three-and-outs. But then the Colts put up another long drive for a touchdown near the end of the first half. This time they drove 90 yards in just six plays thanks to a 58-yard touchdown pass from Minshew to Alec Pierce.

The Colts would stay out of the endzone in the second half and would have to settle for three field goals while the Raiders put up two touchdowns and a field goal, but that wasn’t enough. Their onside kick attempt following their final touchdown with less than a minute remaining would fail and the Colts would clinch a winning record, and depending on how next week goes, they can win the division.

Injury concerns: Both OT Thayer Munford Jr. and OT Cole Fotheringham left the game in the third quarter with a knee and hamstring injury, respectively.

Week 18 matchup: Denver Broncos @ Las Vegas Raiders

Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs

Final score: 17-25

Recap: The Chiefs manage to take out the Burrow-less Bengals and clinch the division, and they have Harrison Butker to thank for that.

It was action early in this one with the Bengals kicking a field goal on the opening drive, the Chiefs answering that with a 75-yard touchdown drive, the Bengals then answering that one with a 75-yard touchdown drive of their own, the Chiefs fumbling the ball on the following possession, and then the Bengals scoring another touchdown off of it. It was intense. The Cheifs would add on a field goal before halftime but would trail 17-13 at the start of the third quarter.

The momentum would change at the start of the second half as the Chiefs would go three-and-out to start, but then the Bengals would fail to convert on 4th and 1 at the KC 6-yard line, and Cincinnati would not score another point the rest of the game. Kansas City, however, would kick a field goal on each of their next four drives and that would be enough to get them ahead and stay there. What a disappointing game this one was to watch if you’re a Broncos fan.

Injury concerns: WR Justin Watson suffered a chest injury in the thrid quarter but returned to the game.

Week 18 matchup: Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers

Week 18 predictions

My season record now stands at 37-26 heading into the last week of the regular season. I hope your predictions have done better than mine.

This week I’ll be taking the Broncos over the Raiders and the Chiefs over the Chargers. It’s time for Denver to finally beat the Vegas Raiders.