Check out these AFC West journalists' takes on the matchups for the division this Sunday!
Raiders at Jets
The Raiders played typical Raiders football on Thanksgiving last week. Looking at times really good. McGloin threw the ball with zip, on the money, and the teams was owning the Cowboys in Dallas. Then they finished the game the way they have all year, a tale of two teams. They got run out of the stadium in the 2nd half.
This team is good, but young and growing together. Jennings is turning in a great finish to the season. They just need to continue to build together. There are pieces on this team that will help them be successful. This game will be boring for all non Raiders and Jets fans. Raiders pull one out with a fourth quarter touchdown.
Prediction: Raiders 13, Jets 10
Giants at Chargers
The Chargers lost a tough game against Cincy last week. I see this more as an emotional let down. They were in desperation mode the week before and stunned Kansas City in Arrowhead with a great performance. They are still in the hunt for the final wild card spot.
I think the Chargers win, and win fairly easy in this one. This will no doubt be a shootout. I just think Rivers is playing so well this year. Eli and co. Won't be able to keep pace and a couple 2nd half turnovers will open this game up for San Diego.
Prediction: Chargers 31, Giants 17
Titans at Broncos
Denver is riding high after completing a sweep of their rival Chiefs and taking control of home field advantage. They are a bit banged up, but if Manning can play like he did Sunday, they may only need 8 guys on the field to win.
The Titans do have a solid defense and Fitzpatrick has been playing well, but it won't nearly be enough on the road in Denver. The Broncos will play conservative early, but once Peyton gets a few series look, they'll score TDs on three straight drives and put it out of reach.
Prediction: Broncos 34, Titans 17
Chiefs at Redskins
The Chiefs suffered a tough loss to Denver last week. They jumped out to a 21-7 lead, and had two 80 yard drives in the fourth quarter. In between there was a struggle. Losing to Denver hurt, but they were the number one seed last year for a reason, they're real good. The Chiefs have to find the aggressiveness they had early in the season.
The Redskins present this opportunity. They are close to mailing in the season. Kansas City needs to come out and establish themselves as the dominant team in this match up. I think they will have the game in hand from start to finish. This team is mad, and they'll take it out on Washington.
Prediction: Chiefs 30, Redskins 13
Raiders at the NY Jets
Neither team is going anywhere this year. Gino Smith has proven he still has a long way to go and, while not stellar, the Raiders defense is stout enough to shut him down. Even with the cross country travel Oakland has enough to get the win.
Raiders 21 - NY Jets 10
NY Giants at the Chargers
Going to be a close game. The Giants are on the upswing and the Chargers are struggling.
NY Giants 24 - Chargers 17
Titans at the Broncos
Won't even be close. Denver can feel the Home Field Advantage throughout the playoffs.
Titans 7 - Denver 34
Chiefs at the Redskins
The Chiefs are staggering. The matchups that fueled their 9-0 start are gone. The defense has shown increased vulnerability, leading Kansas City to be the only team in NFL history to start 9-0 and then lose 3 straight. All that aside the Chiefs get back into the win column against Washington.
Chiefs 24 - Redskins 10
Raiders at Jets
This one will be bad.
It isn't the woeful overachieving of both teams that have come crashing back to ground.
It isn't the lack of a true starting QB between both teams and all three who saw action last week (Geno Smith, Matt Simms and Terrelle Pryor).
It isn't the two head coaches who might be fired at the end of the year.
It isn't the dearth of offensive talent on either side of the ball.
Actually, you know what, never mind. It is all of those reasons and more.
Prediction: Raiders 10 Jets 7
Chiefs at Redskins
The Chiefs are on a three-game losing streak. The Redskins are on a four-game losing streak. Something is going to have to give.
The Redskins can be a threatening team, but I just don't see this one being anything other than the eventual result. The Chiefs defense has fallen to pieces recently but Alex Smith is finally starting to play to his potential. If Donnie Avery can keep things together and stop the drops, the Chiefs could have a decent offense.
Prediction: Chiefs 24 Redskins 17
Titans at Broncos
The Titans are better than their record (5-7) suggests. They have dealt with some difficulties this season, such as losing Jake Locker once...and then again for the remainder of the season. Chris Johnson has continued to underwhelm ever since he was CJ2K, becoming CJ2YPA. Yet, Kendall Wright shows every sign of developing into an elite NFL receiver...despite Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB.
The Titans do have a good defense. But I have little doubt that Manning will continue his record-breaking season.
Prediction: Broncos 35 Titans 17
Giants at Chargers
We all know what the big storyline in this one is. Eli versus Phillip. The traded picks.
Yet, don't look now...but both teams are 5-7. What a journey they have both taken to get to that record! The Giants have won 5 of 6. The Chargers have lost 4 of 5. These are two teams going very different directions. However, at this point, if I was to take Rivers or Manning the Lesser, I have to go with Phillip.
Prediction: Chargers 24 Giants 20
Raiders at Jets
Two proud franchises with rich tradition and AFL roots, these two teams once battled it out in the 1968 AFL Championship game prior to Joe Namath famously giving his Super Bowl Guarantee.
(Image Credit : Sports Illustrated)
Almost four and half decades later, both teams are now playing under .500 football and no championship trophies will be up for grabs this weekend, technically.
These are now two teams playing for a small hope at capturing that final playoff seed, sure they're at the bottom of the list... but it's important to note for the fans of these two squads... Playoff hope is still alive, but it's on life support.
The Raiders are 2-12 on the road under Dennis Allen during his tenure, so this is a good opportunity for the New York Jets to establish a home field advantage--if they want to keep their season alive. Can Geno Smith score points? Neither he or the Jets have scored an offensive touchdown in eight quarters... That will have to change if the Jets are to win this game like it's 1968 all over again.
Prediction: Raiders 23 Jets 27
Chiefs at Redskins
The Chiefs are on the upswing this year, they're 9-3 and they can tie up a playoff spot this weekend if any of these things happen:
1) KC win, plus MIA loss or tie OR
2) KC win, plus BAL loss or tie OR
3) KC tie, plus MIA loss OR
4) KC tie, plus BAL loss
The Redskins are on the downswing this year, they're 3-9 and they can't clinch a playoff spot this weekend even if they beat the Chiefs and all those things happen against the Chiefs favor...
Nope, it's already over for the Redskins playoff hunt, but that doesn't mean this is an easy win for the Kansas City Chiefs and Alex Smith. The Redskins still posses the number one rushing unit in the NFL. They have a talented QB in Robert Griffin III and a defense with 11 different players that have recorded sacks this season. The Skins' will give the Chiefs all they can handle on both sides of the ball... no doubt about that.
This will not be an easy game for the Chiefs, but it should be one that will propel them to 10-3 and give them some of the confidence back they lost during their current three game losing streak.
Prediction: Chiefs 21 Redskins 16
Titans at Broncos
The Broncos are one of the best teams in the NFL, they have an exciting offense, an excitable fan base and a executive in John Elway that seems to own the Chiefs whether he is on the field or not. Excruciating.
Nevertheless, the league doesn't just hand out wins because the Broncos lace up their silk game time panties. No, no, no... they still have to play football games. And this week, that game will be at Sports Authority Field in Denver against the 5-7 Tennessee Titans and the fightin' Ryan Fitzpatrick's.
Is this a game the Denver Broncos could lose?
Probably not. Although three of the Titans five wins have come on the road this season... Denver is just a completely different animal altogether. Personally, I'd love to see the Titans roll in and put up 40-50 points and beat the Broncos' in their own house, but can any of you envision Ryan Fitzpatrick doing that?
No, this should be a big Denver win as Peyton Manning steamrolls through the NFL's regular season on his way to another playoff loss.
Prediction: Broncos 37 Titans 28
Giants at Chargers
Chargers have lost three out of their last four games, while the New York Giants have won five out of their last six games...
This should be an interesting match-up as both teams cling to desperate playoff hopes that are only slightly more appealing than the Jets and Raiders chances...
There are tons of storylines in this game, dating all the way back to 2004 when the famous trade took place.
First, the details of the trade (Thanks BR)
- Chargers traded Manning—the No. 1 overall pick to the Giants. In exchange, San Diego received the following from New York: Philip Rivers, the Giants' third round pick in 2004 along with their first and fifth round selections in the 2005 draft.
San Diego selected the following players with the additional draft picks they acquired in the deal:
- 2004 third round pick: Kicker Nate Kaeding
- 2005 first round pick: Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman
- 2005 fifth round pick: Traded to Tampa Bay who traded pick to St. Louis Rams
Looking back on Shawne Merriman's career, it seems like San Diego rented a brilliant LB for a couple seasons and got a decent kicker to kick extra points for Philip Rivers in exchange for the rights to Eli Manning and his eventual two Super Bowl rings.
Was it a good deal? (Rhetorical)
Would Eli Manning have sat out forever in San Diego if it didn't go down? Probably, but really, who knows? Archie? Perhaps, but who knows? Peyton? No chance... this topic will forever stay speculation.
As for the game, the Giants have been playing much better since they started out the season 0-6, their defense has only allowed 20 or more points once in the last six games and Eli remembered that he was throwing to the guys in Giant blue.
Keeping with their typical turn it around theme, the Giants are now 5-7 and are in the middle of their annual--come from out of nowhere to dominate when it matters--style that works for Giants Head Coach - Tom Coughlin... I swear he does it just to make the media look like idiots when they are calling for his job early in the season (also an annual storyline.)
Across the sidelines from Coughlin, is Mike McCoy, a first year head coach that had nothing to do with trading for Philip RIvers in 2004, but has everything to do with his current 5-7 record and diminishing playoff chances... Can he knock Tom off his annual schtick or does his team continue to struggle?
If Tom didn't do this every year, I might give McCoy a chance, but it simply is what it is. Giants roll and score more than 30 points for the first time since their week one loss.
Prediction: Giants 32 Chargers 20
There are 3 story lines I'll be paying VERY close attention to this week.
1) So Peyton Manning has to play in the cold again
It's going to be below 20 degrees in Denver when the game starts, and it's just going to get colder as time goes on. Manning's last cold weather game was an unmitigated disaster, and if he has another rough showing people are going to collectively freak out. The problem with the standard Peyton has set for himself is that even a perfectly competent performance (say, 3 TD's, 1 INT, 290 yards) will have people shrieking about how he can't get it done in the cold.
Of course, you know Manning is going to look at this as a chance to prove the doubters wrong. Because of that, I can't rule out 8 touchdowns. Should be interesting.
2) Does the Chiefs defense actually suck?
After 3 straight "blech" games, we'll see. If Washington lights the Chiefs up, and already-agitated fanbase is going to get even more edgy, regardless of the injury to Justin Houston. The Chiefs have to right the ship this week.
3) Does Gunslingin' Smith contine to be Gunslingin' Smith?
Alex Smith has been throwing the ball all over the field lately. It's been weird. I said last week that 3 games is a trend, then Smith went out and played his best game of the year (even better than his statistically better Chargers game the week prior). I'm afraid to hope too much for this. I've been hurt before.
Titans vs Broncos
It's gonna be cold in Denver tomorrow. Really cold. Possibly snowing. Which means that Peyton Manning is going to suck, right? Wrong. I'll be the first to admit that when conditions get cold AND windy, PFM seems to be a little bit off, but people should be talking about the Broncos' "Cold Weather Defense", which seems to fall apart in cold games. The Broncos will win this game handily.
The Titans have a legit pass defense and Alterraun Verner is the real deal, but they'll be no match for this historic offense. The Broncos' ground game is coalescing at the right time.
Broncos 38 Titans 17
Giants vs Chargers
Eli Manning returns to the city who once hoped he'd be their franchise QB. Alas, it was not to be. Chargers fans can take solace in knowing that the Giants are gonna get dealt with. The Giants' defense has lost it's ferocious edge and without it, Manning has proved that he cannot carry a team.
Chargers 30 Giants 20
Chiefs vs Redskins
The once 9-0 Chiefs are reeling as they've now lost 3 in a row. All 3 were division losses. 2 of them to the Broncos. This game is extremely important to the Chiefs. Can they stop the bleeding and get back to winning football down the stretch? Without a little momentum, they'll be one and done in the playoffs. Alex Smith has looked like a different QB over the last 3 weeks. And I like it. Challenging defenses down field and throwing with precision. It's too bad his receivers forgot how to catch the ball.
The Redskins are close to firing Mike Shanahan. If they were smart, they'd put RG3 on the shelf for the season and let him get 100% for next year. Meanwhile, their defense is giving up points like a sieve.
Chiefs 24 Redskins 20
Raiders vs Jets
The Raiders get to play Geno Smith tomorrow. Rejoice, Raider Nation. Provided you can score at least 10 points, you'll likely win the game. But if Rashad Jennings is a no go, following his concussion from Thanksgiving Day, the Raiders are likely in for a long day.
Jets 13 Raiders 9
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