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AFC West Three Way Tie? A Look At Raiders, Chiefs, Chargers And Broncos

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The Chargers are coming on strong, as is their now-annual tradition under coach Norv Turner. The Raiders are obviously alive and well and coming off a bye, feeling good about their present position tied atop the AFC West with the Chiefs. The Broncos are technically still alive and might have turned a corner in their absolute shredding of the Chiefs overall game plan. Despite all of this, Todd Haley's squad still sits in charge of their own destiny at 5-4.

Welcome to the AFC West -- a division that doesn't figure to change much in the next few weeks. Consider the schedule of each AFC West team and let's see where things might sit after another quarter games:

Raiders Next Four:
@ Pittsburgh; Miami; @ San Diego; @ Jacksonville

As a Chiefs fan, I was thrilled with that big visit to Pittsburgh in the middle of the Raiders' schedule, but now things don't look so intimidating. The Patriots highlight the gaping hole on the left side of Pittsburgh's o-line and the Raiders significant success along the defensive front should take full advantage of the Steelers loss of Max Starks for the season at left tackle. It's still a difficult win, but it's not the black hole in the schedule it once was.

Still, all three of these games are moderately difficult at least. The Steelers have a lot to prove at home after losing to New England. The Dolphins and Chargers are fighting for their playoff lives, as are the Raiders. The Raiders could honestly go 1-3 and I wouldn't be surprised, but I'm guessing they come away with two wins and lose a couple road games.

Prediction after the quarter: 7-6

Broncos Next Four:
@ San Diego; St. Louis; @ Kansas City; @ Arizona

The Broncos also face the road for three of their next four and all three should prove to be difficult contests. And I'm choosing to trust the overall story arc for this season's team instead of the recent KC game at home. They might be revitalized, but San Diego should take care of business and KC will probably pay them back as well. Arizona's QB play is abysmal in a QB league, and the Cards home field presents no advantage this year. Sam Bradford will prove a stumbling block and keep the Broncos from hitting anything over one win in this stretch.

Prediction after the quarter: 4-9

Chargers Next Four:
Denver; @ Indianapolis; Oakland; Kansas City

If any team can pony up and shake loose of the pack, it's the Chargers. Let's be honest, they've done it every year since 1956 (feels like it, at least). They run their divisional home slate this quarter and Turner's squad is getting hot at the right time. The addition of Vincent Jackson combined with Phil Rivers current streak should have all four teams shaking. Since Qualcomm is the destination, I say the Chargers run the table at home and fall prey to Indy in what should be an entertaining contest between the NFL's two best quarterbacks.

Prediction after the quarter: 7-6

Chiefs Next Four:
Arizona; @ Seattle; Denver; @ San Diego

On paper, the Chiefs face the least talented teams this quarter compared to the schedules of others. Arizona at home should be a win to count on given the Chiefs undefeated record at Arrowhead (only other teams without a home loss: Indy, New England, Baltimore, Atlanta). That makes the Denver game a win for me as well, despite last Sunday's showing.
   
It's the other two games that make me uncomfortable. I already stated earlier that I predict the Chargers will win at Qualcomm, but it's this Seahawks contest that has me confused. The Chiefs definitely have the ability to win, but Pete Carroll's team has looked brilliant and boring from week to week, so it's hard to tell what you get. They've been incredible at home, with only the embarrassing loss to the Giants two weeks ago to mar a spotless record. The 'Hawks are in the same position as the Chiefs (5-4, leading division), so this one's a toss-up for me, but if Hasselbeck's in, I'm calling this a road loss.

Prediction after the quarter: 7-6


Of course, things could shake out completely differently than this. In the NFL, you win the games you didn't think you could and lose the ones that should be automatic. It's a strange year, but it's very possible the AFC West is a three-way tie heading into the final quarter of the season.