AFC West Roundup: Week 12

Nov 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws as center Rodney Hudson (61) and offensive guard Kelechi Osemele (70) block against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws as center Rodney Hudson (61) and offensive guard Kelechi Osemele (70) block against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) runs with the ball against Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden (25) during the first half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) runs with the ball against Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden (25) during the first half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /

Denver Broncos

3rd Place in AFC West

Record: 7-4
Last Game: lost to Chiefs 30-27 in OT at home
Next Game: at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) Sun, Dec 4, 1 pm EST

Denver could be 8-3. They likely should be 7-3-1, along with the Chiefs. That would’ve been best case scenario for both the Broncos AND the Raiders.

But Gary Kubiak, faced with a near impossible decision in the waning moments of overtime, decided to attempt a 62-yard field goal for the win rather than punt for the likely tie.

Now, KC was moving the ball well, both defenses were tired and the Broncos weren’t guaranteed a stop. But the odds of making that 62-yard field goal were somewhere in the 1% range and it definitively gave the Chiefs a short field to exploit for the win. Which they did.

If the Broncos punt that ball and their defense forces a stop, the game is a tie. The Broncos are 7-3-1 and still hold the second wild card spot. The Chiefs are 7-3-1 and still hold the first wild card spot. The Raiders are 9-2 and 1.5 games up.

But Kubiak played to win — no fan of the Raiders is going to fault a coach with that philosophy — and it didn’t work out. So the Chiefs are 8-3 and one game out, while the Broncos are 7-4 and two games back. Worst case scenario for both the Broncos and the Raiders.

A bonus for the Chiefs and Dolphins.

The Broncos still need to find a running game, though Devontae Booker is running hard. He’s just had some really difficult matchups recently. This week’s opponent, the Jags, are 24th in the NFL in run defense, though they’ve been better recently.

The Broncos must begin playing the run game better on both sides of the ball if they want to stay in the race here. Their pass defense is still elite, though they did let Smith march down the field in the fourth and overtime for crucial drives to win the game.

Cracks are showing in Denver and though the Jags are 2-9 a 1:00pm start on the East Coast for a West Coast team is never easy. Particularly not when coming off a Sunday night battle that went late into the night and was as physical a contest as it gets.

The Broncos are favored in this game, as they should be, but there are intangible factors working against them here. A loss in Jacksonville would be disastrous, and if they can’t run the ball better a surprisingly decent Jacksonville secondary may make things difficult on Trevor Siemian.