Today is Thanksgiving but the only fans in the AFC West that are giving thanks are the Denver Broncos. Broncos fans are thankful that the organization got rid of Tim Tebow in favor of superstar Peyton Manning. Manning has paid off as the Broncos are 7-3 and firmly in control of the division.
The San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Oakland Raiders have less to be thankful for and are most likely most thankful that the season will be ending sooner than later.
This article will preview Week 12 in the AFC West.
Oakland at Cincinnati
Cincinnati is playing all four AFC West teams in a span of five weeks that started in week nine. In week nine Cincinnati lost to the Denver Broncos but were able to knock off the Kansas City Chiefs in week 11. In addition, a surprising win over the New York Giants in week 10 means Cincinnati is on a two game winning streak.
Oakland won two games in a row in weeks seven and eight but have dropped three since then and their overall record stands at 3-7.
The big story line for this game is the return of Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer to Cincinnati, which was the city he called home for seven seasons.
However, things have been less than spectacular for Palmer since he joined the Raiders. In 2011, Palmer finished the season with a 4-5 record as a starter throwing for only 13 touchdowns but 16 interceptions. In 2012, Palmer has thrown 17 touchdowns to 11 interceptions however the team has not been able to get the job done which has resulted in Oakland’s 3-7 record.
In his final regular season home game for Cincinnati, Palmer threw for 269 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Maybe a return to his old stomping grounds will help give Palmer some magic and an upset win his former team.
Marcel Reece did a good job in relief of Darren McFadden against New Orleans but will have lots of work to do to help a Raiders team that is ranked 31st average rushing yards per game. Another concern for Oakland is their defense which has given up the most total points this season, and are ranked 24th and 23rd respectively, in average passing yards allowed per game and in average rushing yards allowed per game.
Denver at Kansas City
Before the season started this game could have been circled as one that could be a deciding factor in determining the AFC West title. However, now this game should be an easy win for Denver and a game Kansas City is playing only because they have too.
Denver is led by quarterback Peyton Manning who is on his way to securing another MVP award. Manning has led Denver to five straight wins, while throwing for over 250 yards nine times this season, and has thrown three touchdowns in six of Denver’s last seven games. Overall this season, Manning has thrown for 2,975 yards, 24 touchdowns with only seven interceptions.
Denver’s defense is also playing well this season having recorded 17 total takeaways, and are ranked 12th in average passing yards allowed per game, and fifth in average rushing yards allowed per game.
The Kansas City Chiefs are in an interesting place this season. The team is ranked 28th in average passing yards per game, but are ranked ninth in average passing yards allowed per game. Their running game is ranked fourth in the league, but 25th in average rushing yards allowed per season.
Their problems in the passing game start and end with the quarterback position, as Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn have battled all season to see which is the worse quarterback. Cassel has a 58 percent completion rate with only six touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Quinn has a 60 percent completion rate with zero touchdowns and three interceptions.
On defense, the team is giving up an average of 129 rushing yards per game, has the third fewest total takeaways in the AFC, and has given up 139 points in their last five games.
Things are downright awful in Kansas City and Denver should take care of the Chiefs early.
Baltimore at San Diego
Baltimore is 2-0 this season against the AFC West after beating Kansas City 9-6, and spanking Oakland 55-20. Additionally, Baltimore is also riding a three game winning streak.
San Diego is currently on a two game losing streak and 1-5 in their last six games. San Diego’s problems this season are a lackluster offense and trouble stopping the passing game.
Quarterback Phillip Rivers has thrown seven touchdowns and five interceptions in the month of November, and has a 62 percent completion rate, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in losses this season.
Running back Ryan Matthew has only 522 rushing yards this season, only one touchdown, and two loss fumbles. Superstar Antonio Gates is on pace to have his worst season since his first season in 2003, while leading yardage receiver, Malcolm Floyd is ranked 22nd in the league in total receiving yards, and is ranked 37th in total receptions.
On defense San Diego is ranked 19th in average passing yards allowed per game with 236, and have given up 458 passing yards and five touchdowns in the last two weeks.
Oakland gets their eighth loss of the season from Cincinnati, 27-14
Denver blows out Kansas City 35-6
Baltimore slips past San Diego 18-7