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AFC West Playoff Picture Gets Dicey Near The Homestretch

AFC West camm_wow04 via flickr


AFC West remains the toughest in the NFL

The AFC West is home to the most stacked division in the AFC, boasting three playoff teams in the Oakland Raiders(10-3), Kansas City Chiefs (10-3), and the Denver Broncos (8-5). Thursday night showed that, as the Chiefs defeated the Raiders 21-13 in a heated battle. However, it would not take much to see one of these Super Bowl contenders at home come January rather than in a primetime slot.

The most likely to miss the cut of the top six in the AFC are the Denver Broncos. At 8-5 they will drop out of the sixth seed following a loss to the Titans, if the Ravens can come up with a big win on Monday night. Their remaining schedule is also one of the most difficult to close out the season, featuring the Patriots, Chiefs, and Raiders to end the season. With no sub-.500 teams on the schedule and the one, two and five seeds from the playoff picture remaining, it seems somewhat likely Von Miller will be doing his Super Bowl dancing in Old Spice commercials.

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The Chiefs have the easiest schedule remaining, relatively speaking and are essentially locked for a playoff spot, leading the AFC West. They play the Titans, Broncos, and the ChargersKansas City is in pole position of the division as well, due to an undefeated mark among AFC West rivals. While the Chiefs have been magnificent on defense this season, it should be noted that they lost starting inside linebacker Derrick Johnson for the season due to a ruptured left Achilles tendon. Given the best AFC West divisional and overall record, they remain the favorite to win the division after a grinding victory over the Raiders last week.

Similarly to the Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders have all but locked up a playoff spot, but it is very apparent they want the number one seed. After a tough loss to the Chiefs on Thursday night in Arrowhead, the Raiders  look to bounce back against the Chargers in San Diego, then have the Colts to deal with at home before facing the Broncos at Mile High in Denver. The Raiders have taken the first two games versus the Chargers and Broncos, the next two are at the respective rivals home fields. For most teams that would be an issue, however, the Raiders are 5-1 on the road this season, giving them a good shot to close out the season with a few much-needed wins to close out the division. If they can get help from a Kansas City loss, then they will walk away with the AFC West in their first winning season since the notorious 2002 Super Bowl run.