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Sunday, November 13, 2011
Raiders in control of AFC West

By Bill Williamson

The AFC West title goes through Oakland.

Week 10 was a three-day party for the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders – who knocked around the host Chargers 24-17  on Thursday night – relaxed Sunday and saw the Denver Broncos do them a favor by beating the host Chiefs, 17-10.

Oakland, Kansas City and San Diego entered the week tied for first  at 4-4. Now, the Raiders are 5-4 and the Broncos, Chargers and Chiefs are tied for second at 4-5.

The division race is far from over, but the Raiders must like their chances.

Kansas City (which is entering a brutal five-game stretch next Monday at New England) and San Diego have tougher remaining schedules than the Raiders do.

Every team in the division has major questions. But the Raiders have strong hopes after their impressive win (which followed up embarrassing home losses to the Chiefs and Broncos) at San Diego. If quarterback Carson Palmer plays  as well as he did against San Diego, Oakland will win this division.

San Diego is floundering, losing four games in row. The Chargers do a lot well, but they make way too many critical mistakes on offense and the defense has been getting knocked around. Frankly, the Chargers, who play at Chicago next week, look incapable of finishing a game

With the power of the quarterback Tim Tebow,  a strong running game and improved defense, the Broncos could stick around in the race. The Broncos are 3-1 with Tebow as their starter this season.

Yet, the Raiders -- who visit Minnesota next Sunday -- are in good shape after a Week 10 that fell perfectly for them. Oakland hasn't won the AFC West since 2002. Every other team in the division has been to the playoffs multiple times in that span.