We can start with the easy one first. Stick a fork in the Denver Broncos. They had their happy day pounding the Chiefs. San Diego sent them back to reality They are now checking out the golf schedules for the offseason.
The Raiders have obviously improved dramatically. Pittsburgh, however, exposed them for what they are: Raiders. Lack of discipline, lack of ability to beat a quality team on the road and most importantly, serious weakness at the quarterback position.
The Chiefs have done just slightly better than the Raiders. They took back first place, but it is tenuous at best. They share a similar problem with the Raiders.
They both lack the ability to beat a quality opponent on the road. Until they can do that, they will remain mediocre, at best.
That brings us to the Chargers. Phillip Rivers is playing in a league by himself right now. He is doing an imitation of Peyton Manning. More accurately, Peyton Manning is doing an imitation of Phillip Rivers.
They both have been missing key personal in their offense and it has not slowed them down in the slightest. Take either one off their teams, and they'd have one or two wins.
Trying to be objective, the Raider should go 2-4 (3-3 at best) for the rest of the season. That won't get it done, even in the AFC West.
The Chiefs could go 4-2, or 3-3, as well. I don't think their games at Seattle or at Saint Louis are locks by any means. As I mentioned, they have to win on the road, and those are not elite teams.
Who Will Win the AFC West
I think Kansas City has a very legitimate shot at going undefeated at home. The Titans game on December 26th appeared to be the biggest roadblock, but they now have some serious issues.
As always, with Denver and Oakland playing at Arrowhead, anything can happen. But they should, and will, win those games.
San Diego should go 5-1, without much problem for the rest of the season. In fact, 6-0 is not out of the question. The one loss that I have put in there is at Indianapolis, where they have had success. There is nobody else on their schedule they should not handle.
The bottom line?
Chargers: 10-6 or 11-5.
Chiefs: 10-6 or 9-7.
Raiders: 8-8, most likely.
Denver: irrelevant except as a spoiler.
Kansas City had the best chance to pull away with games in Oakland and in Denver but lost them both. That allowed the Chargers to put themselves back in the driver's seat, even though they are not in first place.
The real wild card for the whole division is who can win on the road. Nobody in the division has more than one win on the road.
It may very well come down to the team that can win that one big game on the road.
Can the Chiefs win at San Diego? Can the Chargers win in Indianapolis? Can the Raiders win in San Diego and/or Kansas City?
Even one of those wins could change everything written above. Additionally, Denver could throw a wrench into the whole thing by doing the same thing in KC or Oakland.
I think, all things considered, this will be San Diego's swan song. After this, they can say goodbye to their walk through the division.
It will be the Chiefs division, for quite some time. The Raiders will be the real challenge, if they get their quarterback situation figured out.