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Friday, November 30, 2012
Final Word: AFC West

By Bill Williamson

NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 13:

Could be a special weekend for John Elway: The Broncos, 8-3, can clinch their second consecutive AFC West title with a victory over visiting Tampa Bay or a San Diego home loss to Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon. The last time Denver won back-to-back division titles was 1986-87, when Elway was the team's star quarterback. The Broncos also are looking for their seventh straight win. The last time they had a streak that long was when they won 14 straight spanning 1997-98, Elway’s final two seasons as a player.

Jamaal Charles
Jamaal Charles could give the Chiefs' offense a boost with some third-down carries.
Chiefs need to look to Charles on third down: Despite their big problems on offense, the Chiefs haven’t been horrible on third down this season. Going into last week’s loss to Denver, Kansas City was 14th in the NFL on third downs, with a 38.7 conversion percentage. Running back Jamaal Charles has converted 38.5 percent of the time on third down with the ball in his hands, according to ESPN Stats & Information. However, against Denver, Charles didn’t touch the ball on third down. The Chiefs went 3-for-14 on third down -- just 21.4 percent. The Chiefs need to get Charles involved on third down Sunday against Carolina.

Will another rookie run over the Raiders? In Week 9, Oakland’s home crowd saw Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin run all over the Raiders in a 42-32 Oakland loss. Martin had 251 yards rushing on 25 carries, with four long touchdown runs. Now, four weeks later, Oakland hosts Cleveland and running back Trent Richardson, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft. Richardson has not been as good as Martin, rushing for 755 yards on 3.6 yards per carry. But you know he is going to be motivated by Martin’s performance against a defense that has struggled all season.

Can Ryan Mathews get a 100-yard game? The Chargers’ offense needs a boost as San Diego clings to faint playoff hopes. If the Chargers have any hope of beating the smoking-hot Bengals on Sunday, their offense will need to come alive. That means running back Mathews must have a big game. San Diego hasn't had a 100-yard rusher all season. So much was expected from the No. 12 pick of the 2010 draft in his third season. But Mathews has been slowed by injuries once again, compiling 594 yards and averaging 4.1 yards per carry. He certainly has showed flashes, but he hasn’t been dominant. Mathews hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing game since Week 14 of last season. It’s time for another.

Freeman-Denver battle brewing: Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman likes to go deep; Denver’s defense is equipped to stop him. Something will have to give. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Denver has allowed eight completions and a completion percentage of 17.9 on passes longer than 20 yards this season -- both league lows. Freeman, meanwhile, has completed 22 such passes to lead the league.