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News from around the AFC West: Week 15

The Denver Broncos have run away with the division and are fighting for a first-round playoff bye. The Raiders and Chiefs are, well, the Raiders and Chiefs.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos

You all know I live in the Denver suburbs these days, right? Well I was watching the local news one night and they were doing the sports report and they were talking about how the Broncos would like to not face the Patriots in the playoffs. I was sitting there thinking, "boy, that's pretty arrogant and presumptive." Then I reflected on it the situation in the AFC West and realized, "oh wait, they've already clinched the division. I do not like this feeling, this is new and not fun."

So the Broncos are on a roll. They've won 8 straight games and are sitting comfortably at an 10-3 record. Hey remember when they were 2-3 and played the Chargers? Me neither.

Denver is good, but not perfect. They don't have much of a run game to speak of, but Peyton Manning has found his groove and the Denver defense is quite a respectable one. Throw in one of the easier schedules in the league and it's no surprise they're on a roll.

Well, I shouldn't say they don't have a run game, Knowshon Moreno was nominated this week for FedEx Ground Player of the Week due to his career day in their win over the Raiders last Thursday.

No huge injuries to discuss either. After having players drop like flies to start the season (the Broncos currently have 9 players on IR), things have stabilized. Health is just as important a factor in a teams success as luck is in the NFL.

The Broncos head to Baltimore on Sunday to face the Ravens in what looks to be Denver's final test in the regular season. After Sunday, the Broncos host the Browns and Chiefs to finish the season. It seems they're primed to finish the 2012 season with at least 12 wins.

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Kansas City Chiefs

The "tragedy bounce-back" lasted just one game. Following the tragic events surrounding Javon Belcher, the Chiefs responded to beat the Carolina Panthers. This week however, they fell to the Cleveland Browns 30-7; ouch.

The Chargers aren't the only team in the AFC West talking about potential head coaching changes following the season. It's no surprise that fans in Kansas City are fed up with GM Scott Pioli or HC Romeo Crennel. The "Save Our Chiefs" movement is gaining major momentum. Whether it's been poor player moves or coaching issues, but Kansas City just isn't getting any good production out of their current team.

There is a large contingency that is shocked by just how mediocre the Chiefs have been this year, myself included. They seem to have the talent, but that has not translated to on-the-field success in any way whatsoever.

Dwayne Bowe is injured, as is Dexter McCluster, and yet Steve Breaston — one of Kansas City's big free agent signings this year — is nowhere to be found and has been inactive in the 4 of the last 5 games. Are the Chiefs not happy with their signing? Are they trying to protect him? His absence has been a huge story this week.

It's obvious the team has an issue with their player talent. Whether they've signed the wrong talent, or not used that talent to its full potential when they acquired it, the Chiefs have a real player problem on their hands.

With 3 games left in the season — at Oakland, vs Indianapolis, at Denver — there's a very real possibility that the Chiefs finish out the year at 2-14 and have the first pick in next year's draft. Too bad for them this year's QB class is rather weak.

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Oakland Raiders

It wasn't that long ago when the Raiders were showing promise and poised to make a run at the AFC West title. Now that the Raiders have lost 6 straight and fallen to a 3-10 record, there's no hope left in Oakland. Though it's been another season of futility on the Raiders, things do seem a bit different now that Al Davis is gone.

For starters, Al Davis was all about signing his head coaches to one-year contracts. That changed this year when Dennis Allen was signed to a four-year contract. A Raiders head coach with job security? Say it ain't so! Okay, it ain't so, as there are rumblings that Allen won't be so safe at the end of the season.

The new leadership in Oakland hasn't been afraid to make moves and put their mark on the team. There is optimism in Oakland in the long term, but for now things just seem to be a mess.

The Raiders claim to fame — outside of penalties — has generally been a stout defense. Not so much this year as the Raiders are giving up an NFL-worst 30.9 points per game. That's not exactly a recipe for success.

To finish out the season, the Raiders host the Chiefs this Sunday, then head to Carolina and San Diego.

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