NFL Picks Week 17: Kyle Orton Will Eliminate Denver Broncos' Playoff Dreams

Michael MillSenior Analyst IIIDecember 30, 2011

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 24:  Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Kansas City Chiefs rolls out against the Oakland Raiders during the first half on December 24, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images

There are still spots open for the taking in the AFC and NFC playoff race with just one week remaining in the 2011 regular season.

Most of the focus heading into this week has been directed towards the Sunday night showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, which will determine the NFC East Champion.

It's shocking, since Tim Tebow has been capturing headlines all season. You would think he would be the big story with his team in position for a playoff berth as well this weekend.

The race in the AFC West hasn't gotten quite the same publicity.

The Denver Broncos will take on the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders match up against the San Diego Chargers to decide the division.

If Tebow and the Broncos win, they are in. If they lose, the door is open for the Raiders to take the division with a win over San Diego.

For the Raiders to have a shot, they need the Broncos to lose.

There is one guy on the Chiefs roster who would love to make that happen. In fact, if Kansas City wins, it could mark the biggest win in his career.

Kyle Orton was poised for failure on the Denver roster before the season ever started.

Before a single game was played, fans were calling for a trade or the quarterback's release.

They wanted Tim Tebow. After a 1-4 start, that's exactly what they got.

Orton was placed on the bench and Tebow took over. Until the last two weeks, things have been great in Denver.

Tebow led the team to late-game win after late-game win. The organization finally released Orton with a few weeks remaining in the season.

With Matt Cassel out with an injury, the Chiefs signed Orton to start the final few games of the season.

He got his first start in week 15 against the undefeated Green Bay Packers. The Chiefs won the game 19-14.

Kansas City stumbled next week against Oakland with a loss, but Orton still looked solid. He has thrown for 299 yards and 300 yards in his two starts.

The Broncos defense has collapsed the last two weeks, allowing 41 points to New England and 40 to Buffalo.

Tim Tebow can't keep this Denver team alive if he has to drop back and pass, especially against a Kansas City team whose strength is stopping the pass.

All Orton has to do is put up points. If he can do that, the Chiefs will pull off the upset.

There is likely no player in the league more hungry for a win than Orton this weekend.

He is likely never going to be a Pro Bowl quarterback. He is likely never going to win a Super Bowl.

However, this weekend, he has the opportunity to get the last laugh.

All the Raiders have to do is win and the division is theirs.