AFC West: 2011 Week 13 coverage

Wrap-up: Chiefs 10, Bears 3

December, 4, 2011
A look at an impressive 10-3 win for the Kansas City Chiefs against the Chicago Bears:

What it means: The Chiefs are now 5-7. They trail Denver and Oakland, both 7-5, by two games in the AFC West race. They lead San Diego, 4-7, by a half game. San Diego plays at Jacksonville on Monday night. The win snapped a four-game Kansas City losing streak. Maybe the Chiefs’ strange season trend will continue. The Chiefs have been a team of streaks all season. They started the season 0-3, then won four straight games and then lost four straight games.

Big play: The lone touchdown of the game was on a crazy 38-yard pass from Tyler Palko to Dexter McCluster at the end of the first half. It was deflected twice.

Palko gets first win: Palko got his first NFL win. He was 0-2 in his first two starts. Palko was 17-of-30 for 157 yards. Most importantly, he did not throw an interception. He was picked off six times in his first two NFL starts.

Short stint for Orton: Quarterback Kyle Orton spelled Palko for one play. He hurt his finger on his first and only pass as a Chief. Kansas City coach Todd Haley had no update on Orton’s injury after the game. With Orton dealing with an injury and Palko coming off a win, I could see Palko getting more time.

Houston, we don’t have a problem: Kansas City rookie Justin Houston was spectacular as he had three sacks. Kansas City had seven sacks on the day.

Good defense: The Kansas City defense has played well recently and it had another big day with three interceptions Sunday. Give defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel credit for putting together a strong group.

What’s next: The Chiefs, who entered Week 13 tied for the toughest remaining schedule in the league, play at the New York Jets on Sunday.

Wrap-up: Dolphins 34, Raiders 14

December, 4, 2011

A look at a terrible day for the Oakland Raiders, who lost to the Miami Dolphins 34-14:

What it means: Oakland was uncompetitive and badly outplayed by the 4-8 Dolphins. Miami led 34-0 until late in the game. Oakland dropped to 7-5 and now is tied with Denver for first place in the AFC West. Oakland is 4-2 on the road this season.

Palmer struggles: Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer wasn’t overly impressive Sunday. Yes, he ended up with 273 passing yards and two touchdown passes, but he had his issues. Palmer is going to need to take the next step if the Raiders are going to reach the playoffs.

McClain plays: Oakland linebacker Rolando McClain played Sunday, three days after being arrested in his hometown in Alabama on assault charges. McClain did not start but had a team-high eight tackles.

Missing firepower: The Raiders need to get healthy. They were missing running backs Darren McFadden and Taiwan Jones and receiver Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore. That is a lot of speed on the sidelines. The team is hopeful McFadden will return next week for the first time since Oct. 23.

Seymour ejected: Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour was ejected for throwing a punch at a Miami offensive lineman. It was the third time in three years with Oakland that Seymour has been ejected from a game. He will likely face a stiff fine, if not a short suspension.

Penalties a problem again: Oakland was penalized 10 times for 91 yards. The Raiders are the most penalized team in the NFL. They improved in that area last week when they were flagged just six times for 44 yards.

Run attack stopped: Oakland couldn’t do much against Miami’s stout run defense. It had just 46 yards on 14 carries. Michael Bush had just 18 yards on 10 carries. Because the Dolphins jumped so far ahead, the Raiders had to abandon the run.

What’s next: Oakland plays at unbeaten Green Bay as the Raiders begin the final quarter of the season.

Wrap-up: Broncos 35, Vikings 32

December, 4, 2011

A look at another thrilling Denver Broncos win, this time 35-32 over the Minnesota Vikings:

What it means: Denver is now tied with Oakland for first place in the AFC West at 7-5. Denver has won five straight games and has won six of quarterback Tim Tebow’s seven starts this season. The Broncos are a major factor in the AFC West playoff race after starting the season 1-4.

Tomorrow’s talker: Tebow is getting better as a passer. Denver -- which scored 28 points in the second half -- is still not comfortable enough to make Tebow a pure pocket passer, but he is making major strides. He completed 10 of 15 passes for 202 yards. He made several key completions and his passes continue to get more aesthetically pleasing. After running a record 22 times last week, he ran only four times for 13 yards

Winning close games: It was Denver’s third straight last-minute victory and the fourth since Tebow took over.

Thomas helping: Tebow is building a rapport with fellow 2010 first-round pick Demaryius Thomas. Thomas had four catches for 144 yards and the two nearly connected on a touchdown late in the game before Denver tied the score with a field goal. Eric Decker had been Tebow’s favorite target. He had 25 yards on two catches.

Defense comes through: The Vikings got their yardage, but Denver’s defense came up with three turnovers. An interception by cornerback Andre' Goodman with less than two minutes to go set up the win. This was a hard-fought game by the Denver defense. It was on the field for 37 minutes, 51 seconds and nearly 22 minutes in the first half. But it buckled down when it needed to.

Haggan has big game: Denver veteran linebacker Mario Haggan had a terrific game as he spelled rookie star Von Miller, who was out with ligament damage to his thumb. Haggan had a team-high 12 tackles and an interception return for a score.

McGahee makes big runs: At the age of 30, Denver running back Willis McGahee continued to shine. He had 111 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, on 20 carries. Denver, the leading rushing team in the NFL, had 150 rushing yards on 32 carries.

What’s next: Denver hosts the Jay Cutler-less Chicago Bears next week as the Broncos hope to continue their unlikely march toward the playoffs.