Week 16 AFC West Roundup

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A weekly update on the AFC West, to keep up with the Oakland Raiders and the rest of the division.

It is with heavy fingers that I type JBB’s penultimate AFC West roundup of the year. Oakland Raiders fans the world over got an early Christmas gut-shot from Krampus when all-Pro quarterback Derek Carr had his leg twisted awkwardly on a sack during the fourth quarter of a win over Indianapolis.

Like many Raiders fans, I was celebrating Christmas Eve with my family. Enjoying another balanced Raider march to victory, I cringed as Trent Cole ruined many a Raider Christmas as he dragged Carr to the ground. It didn’t look good, and it wasn’t.

Raider Nation had waited 14 years to get back to the playoffs. In an instant, it all seemed a hollow accomplishment.

Carr instantly mouthed “it’s broke, it’s bad” as he crumpled to the turf. The popular opinion is that he took the Raiders playoff hopes right along with him. Broken fibula. Ligament damage. Out at least 6-8 weeks after surgery. No playoffs.

I remained stunned and in shock throughout Christmas dinner. Raiders fans have suffered a lot in recent years and it was finally coming to an end. The last time Oakland made the playoffs was 2002. And the coach they traded away boat raced them in the Super Bowl. That one still hurts.

Now, 14 years later the Raiders were back in and legitimate threats. And their leader and offensive soul goes down. Never in the history of the NFL playoffs has a quarterback who led his team to twelve or more wins missed the playoffs.

There is, unfortunately, a first time for everything. Those things do tend to seem to happen to the Raiders often. It was hard to accept. It still is.

Fortunately there is optimism from Derek’s surgeon, Dr. Robert Klapper and according to Momma Carr and Derek himself, surgery went extremely well:

It’s also not as if backup Matt McGloin is a slag-heap pickup. He’s been with the team for four seasons. McGloin is a former college walk-on who fought to starting status, then to NFL backup from undrafted status. He won an award for “tenacity and grit” from a Pennsylvania senator in 2013. He’s started six games in the NFL. He’s a fighter.

The Chiefs took advantage of the situation by beating the inept Broncos at home to keep pace with the Raiders. The Raiders still control their own destiny, but the pilot of that destiny has changed. McGloin is no Carr, but he doesn’t necessarily need to be for the Raiders to win. He’s a fighter, a scrapper

The Chargers lost to the Browns. I really don’t have anything more to say to that. The Chargers have some nice pieces and Joey Bosa is an animal. But they’ve sunk to new lows in finding ways to embarrass themselves this season. Losing to the Browns was the icing on the cake. Congrats, Hue.

The AFC playoff picture is now set, with the exception of the AFC West champion. AFC West champ receives the #2 seed and a first-round bye. The AFC West runner-up will drop to the 5th seed and play a road wild-card game the first playoff week.

So there’s nothing really to talk about other than who will win the division – and all four teams will play a major part. The Raiders are the only ones who outright control their own fate.