NFL Picks Week 13: AFC West Playoff Race Is About to Get Shaken Up

Michael MillSenior Analyst IIIDecember 3, 2011

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 27:   Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos looks to the sidelines during the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on November 27, 2011 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The AFC West currently has one of the tightest races for the top spot coming into the final weeks of the 2011 NFL regular season.

The Oakland Raiders are currently atop the division with a 7-4 record.

The Broncos are trailing by just one game after the phenomenal play from the defense and Tim Tebow over the past few weeks. They own a 6-5 record. 

The Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers are sitting at the bottom of the division, each with 4-7 records.

That's only a three-game spread from first to last. With five games left, any of these teams could still win the division.

Here is a look at how the division will look after this weekend.


4. Kansas City Chiefs (4-8)

The Chiefs did show a spark of life earlier in the year when they went on a four-game winning streak after an 0-3 start to the season. However, they have since reverted back to losing form, dropping their last four games.

After this weekend, that streak will likely stretch to five games.

Whether or not Kyle Orton starts for the Chiefs shouldn't have a huge impact on the result of the game. The Bears are playing better football right now.

The only real chance for the Chiefs is if Caleb Hanie throws three interceptions again.


3. San Diego Chargers (5-7)

They will still be two games back, but a win this weekend puts the Chargers back in the race for the division.

After a 4-1 start to the season, the Chargers have dropped six straight games. Everything that could go wrong has for this team.

There really is no explanation right now. This Chargers team is extremely talented. It's unclear why they haven't been able to put it together.

If they can't put it together on Monday Night Football against the Jacksonville Jaguars, then they are hopeless.


2. Oakland Raiders (7-5)

The Raiders start a tough closing stretch this weekend against the Miami Dolphins.

Don't underestimate this Dolphins team. They may be sitting at 3-8, but they have improved dramatically in recent weeks.

Miami has won three of their last four games and are coming off a one-point loss on Thanksgiving to the Cowboys.

The Dolphins defense has been outstanding in recent weeks, and Miami is very capable of an upset this weekend over an Oakland team that has been plagued with injuries.

Those injuries are going to catch up with Oakland this weekend. Miami will pull off a close victory.


1. Denver Broncos (7-5)

The Denver Broncos are a team that can't be explained.

They turned the reins over to Tim Tebow after a disappointing 1-4 start, and they are 5-1 since making the change.

The offense really hasn't been any more effective. We could debate all day about Tebow's capabilities at quarterback.

The real difference has been on defense. In their last five wins, the team has allowed just 15 points per game.

That will be the trend again this weekend when they play the Vikings.

It will be another low-scoring game in which the Broncos walk away with a win. They will also walk away on the top of the AFC West.