There may be 15 weeks remaining until the playoffs begin, but this week will be as pivotal as any other for the AFC West.
The top three teams in the AFC West face dropping below a .500 record, but also strive for the possibility of rising above it.
Only one team in the division has really lost hope already. Kansas City may be just cruising on their way to the Andrew Luck lottery if they keep up their unsatisfactory play. It may be too early to call it, but the Chiefs are likely to end this season in a bad way.
On Sunday morning the Broncos will be doing their best to keep Chris Johnson at bay—if he plays. Johnson has practiced for the last two days and is probable to start against Denver after working through a rib injury this past week.
Their game against the Titans this weekend will be paramount in proving to the league, and to themselves, that they can beat a good team.
Not to mention that if they lose, they'll surely be a step behind San Diego—a move they cannot afford with the third toughest schedule in the NFL.
The Chargers travel to Kansas City this week to engage in what should be an easy contest. Sure, you could pick the Chiefs for the upset, and you would be wrong.
The Raiders on the other hand don't have the easiest matchup this Sunday. They'll be hosting the New York Jets—and soon after will be nursing their wounds and plotting their plan for ascension from a 1-2 record.
If a team does manage to take a sole lead in the AFC West this week, who will it be?
The Broncos can either sink to another slow start, their first under new head coach John Fox, or they could keep pace with the Chargers.
That is until they travel to Lambeau in Week 4, where their confidence and attitude won't add up to much against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
It seems the fates of the Chargers and Chiefs are fairly certain going into Week 3. The Raiders have a much better chance of an upset than the Chiefs ever will without Jamaal Charles.
The Denver game will serve to be the turning point for the division, and will in turn define the outlook of the AFC West going forward.
If the Chiefs and Raiders fall as planned, and the Broncos follow suit with a loss, the Chargers will end the weekend a game ahead of the pack.
It's up to the Broncos and Raiders to keep San Diego from running away with the division early in the year.
Denver and Oakland each need to make a statement in Week 3.
Denver can do such by rising above their continuous trouble with pestering injuries, shutting down the Titans devastatingly good passing game, and keeping Chris Johnson on pace for another less-than-his-contract-is-worth season.
Oakland will need to match the offensive output and playmaking ability of Mark Sanchez and give the Jets their first loss of the season.
If these two teams can come out big in Week 3, the AFC West might make a name for itself and actually pretend to be a competitive one—at least for a few weeks or so.