AFC West Title Brought To You By the Letter C: Chiefs-Chargers Collision Course

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AFC West Title Brought To You By the Letter C: Chiefs-Chargers Collision Course
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The last few weeks the Chiefs QB Matt Cassel, RB Jamaal Charles and pass catching circus act WR Dwayne Bowe have been crushing the competition's confidence with an incredible cohesion of pass and run that's crippling Johnny come-latelys. On Sunday it was more of the same.

Bowe caught 13 balls for 170 yards and three TDs; Charles carried the cargo 22 times for 173 yards with a coffin closing TD of his own; and Cassel completed 22 of 32 throws for 233 yards and four scores in a 42-24 route over the Seattle Seahawks.

Later that evening, the Chiefs' AFC West counterparts, the San Diego Chargers, were crashing down cavalierly on the Colts with a cavalcade of carries, counters and cuts from bulldozing running back Mike Tolbert.

Between Tolbert's carries, kicker Nate Kaeding's kicks and the defense's picks of Peyton Manning, the Chargers put up 36 points while blowing out the Colts 36-14 without QB Philip Rivers throwing even one TD pass. This is uncharacteristic of the Chargers, who have relied heavily on the cannon-armed quarterback Rivers chucking pass after pass resulting in catch after catch.

Rivers is in the midst of a very strong MVP campaign and was coming off of the conquest of a collapsing Broncos club in which he compiled 233 yards and four TD passes with an efficiency rating over the century mark in his third consecutive contest. The streak continued at the Colts.

It's playoff do or die time: Will the Chiefs take the next step, or will the Chargers keep living on borrowed time for one more year?

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With Christmas coming right around the corner, the competition for conference conquest continues to creep ever closer. Getting to the playoffs is the first step in this journey, and just fifteen calender days before the celebration of the Christian Christ's birth, AFC West fans will be blessed with early tidings of Christmas cheer as they eagerly await the upcoming clash between the Chargers and Chiefs.

With the Raiders and Broncos basically on the outside looking in, the West has come down to a two horse race between the Chiefs and Chargers, who play one another on December 12th. With the Chiefs sitting at 7-4 and up one game on the 6-5 Chargers, this game could very well decide the division championship.

The Chiefs have beaten the Chargers once this year, but the Chargers will get their chance to even up the head to head standings between themselves and the Chiefs. The remaining schedule for both teams is favorable.

Though no games in the NFL should be viewed as easy wins, there are some games that a team should be expected to win. The rest of the 2010 season is full of those games for both of these teams.

If the Chiefs play the Broncos at Arrowhead this week and the Chargers play the Raiders in San Diego on the same day, Week 13 should set up nicely the showdown for the wild wild West. I'll lay out the tie-breakers for you and give you the implications of all Week 14 scenarios for all the relevant ways that Week 13 could shape up.

The first tie breaker is head to head record.

If that is a draw, the next one is division record.

If that is also a push, it goes to best record in games with like opponents.

If that is also a draw, the next tie breaker is record within the conference.

Currently, the Chiefs and Chargers are both 1-2 in the division with two more home games and one more road game remaining. Basically, no matter what happens this week, if the Chiefs can beat the Chargers in Week 14 they will win the division.

Even if the Chargers win and the Chiefs lose in Week 13, a Chiefs victory in Week 14 would give the Chiefs a one game lead again plus the tie breaker, making the Chiefs' lead two games in essence with three games remaining on their schedule.

If the Chiefs win this week and the Chargers lose, a Chiefs loss in Week 14 means the division race will probably come down to Week 17 in which the Chiefs play the Raiders at Arrowhead and the Chargers play the Broncos in Denver.

If the Chiefs beat the Chargers in this scenario, it would put the Chiefs up three games plus they would own the tie-breaker, making it mathematically impossible for the Chargers to overtake the Chiefs in the last three weeks of the 2010 season.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

If this thing comes down to tie-breakers, it's going to get sticky. This is almost definitely going to happen if the Chiefs can't pull out a win in San Diego. I hate "if the season ended today" scenarios when they are used in an argument about absolutes, so I'm not going to use one of them.

I will instead inform you that as of right now both the Chiefs and Chargers are tied at 1-2 in the west and play every team in the division once more. If the Chiefs lose to the Chargers and the two end up tied at the end of the season, the Chiefs will need the Chargers to lose one of their other division games so that they don't lose out on the playoffs due to the second tie breaker.

In the case that this were to happen, the tie would be broken by the Chiefs and Chargers record against teams that they have both faced this year. The Chiefs are 3-4 to the Chargers 5-2 against like opponents. If the tie breaker comes down to this, we're out. The only way we can make up ground in this category is to win the division outright.

So with all of that now laid out for you, it's obvious why the Chiefs have to finish ahead of the Chargers this season or beat them in Week 14 if they want to get into the final field of 12.

The Week 14 Chiefs vs. Chargers cage match clash in California will be chalked full of competition, congratulations and consequence. The camaraderie between team captains and their company will be challenged as "Chief" Cassel contends River's kingdom, leading his Charge against the Chargers.

With Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles in charge of churning out chunks of challenged yardage, the Chiefs should cherish the chance to change the culture of the conference, starting with capturing the AFC West crown.

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