AFC West: 2011 Week 12 coverage

Wrap-up: Steelers 13, Chiefs 9

November, 28, 2011
A look at a hard fight by the Kansas City Chiefs:

What it means: The Chiefs are 4-7 after a 13-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are tied for last place in the AFC West with the San Diego Chargers. The Chiefs trail the first-place Oakland Raiders, 7-4, by three games. The banged-up Chiefs very likely will not defend their AFC West title. Kansas City has now lost four straight games after winning four in a row.

Palko’s last stand: As he did in his first NFL start, in a 31-point loss at New England, Tyler Palko had his moments. Yet, he threw three interceptions for the second straight game. Expect Kansas City to try to get newly clamed Kyle Orton ready to start at Chicago next week.

The heat is on Bowe: Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe was roasted by NBC announcer Chris Collinsworth after not trying to go after a pass in the final seconds of the game. The ball was intercepted. He is a free agent and this is another example of the dilemma surrounding Bowe. He has his moments when he shines, but his effort has often been questioned.

Kansas City defense plays well: The Chiefs’ defense played very hard Sunday. It kept the Chiefs in the game.

What’s next: The Chiefs’ brutal stretch continues when it plays at the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Chiefs have the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL. Expect the Chiefs to insert Orton in practice quickly and try to have him ready to play his former team. Ironically, the Bears claimed Orton as well (as did the Dallas Cowboys) but the Chiefs were awarded him because they have the worst record of the three teams.

SAN DIEGO -- A look at an overtime thriller on an 80-plus degree day by the sea, where the Denver Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers 16-13:

What it means: Denver is now 6-5 and has won five of Tim Tebow's six starts. It trails Oakland by one game. San Diego has lost six straight games and is 4-7. Cue the Norv Turner-gets-fired talk. It will probably happen at the end of the season.

Tomorrow’s talker: What do you think? Tebow’s second NFL overtime game ends in victory. The kid got better as the game went on and once again he proved he gives this team a chance to win. The NFL’s wildest, unlikeliest story continues.

Miller (and Doom) time: Denver pass-rushers Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller are continuing to be a nasty duo now that Dumervil is healthy. Dumervil had two sacks and Miller had one Sunday. Dumervil has all 5.5 of his sacks in the past four games. Miller now has 10.5 sacks this season. He is four sacks off of Jevon Kearse's NFL rookie sack record.

Philip Rivers' protection caves in: The Chargers are playing without six offensive linemen. Think about that. That’s mind-boggling. They did a solid job last week at Chicago and for parts of Sunday’s game, but the protection did collapse late.

Third-down conversion: Denver football leader John Elway said he wants to see Tebow improve on third down. Denver improved some, but it wasn’t great. It was 5-of-16.

Mathews comes on strong: San Diego running back Ryan Mathews played well -- and he didn’t fumble, which was has been a problem. He had 137 yards on 22 carries. He played winning football Sunday.

What’s next: San Diego plays at Jacksonville on “Monday Night Football” and Denver plays at Minnesota. Both are very winnable roadies.

Wrap-Up: Raiders 25, Bears 20

November, 27, 2011

Thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 25-20 victory over the Chicago Bears:

What it means: The Raiders are piling up the victories. They are 7-4 and have won three straight. Oakland is leading this division and looking like a good bet to win the AFC West for the first time in nine years as the season shortens.

Tomorrow’s talker: The Raiders were fortunate to face Caleb Hanie and not Jay Cutler. It was Cutler’s first game he missed since breaking his thumb. It would be inaccurate and unfair to say Chicago would have definitely won this game had Cutler played. But Hanie threw three interceptions and he clearly was overmatched. Oakland played well otherwise. But Oakland has its own injuries that it's dealing with and yet found a way to win.

Seabass is back: After dealing with a nasty hamstring injury for a month, Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski was, once again, the nastiest kicking weapon in the NFL on Sunday. The Raiders overcame a stingy Chicago defense by seeing Janikowski boot six field goals, including four of 40 yards or more.

What’s next: Oakland plays at the much improved Miami Dolphins in Week 13, then plays the perfect Packers at Green Bay in Week 14.