AFC West: 2011 Week 15 Wrap-ups
December, 18, 2011
A look at a dominant victory for the surging San Diego Chargers:
What it means: The Chargers are not dead yet. They have now won three straight games and are in the midst of yet another late-season charge. This was impressive because the Chargers knocked around an elite AFC team. This is the Chargers’ team we’ve been waiting to see. San Diego has outscored its last three opponents by a combined score of 109-38. San Diego is now 7-7. It trails Denver by a game and the Broncos own tiebreakers over the Chargers, but the Chargers are alive in the division and wild card race. The Chargers are now 20-2 in December and January games under Norv Turner since 2007.
Barnes storms: San Diego pass-rusher Antwan Barnes had himself a night. He had four sacks and the Chargers dropped Ravens’ quarterback seven times.
Rivers stars again: After struggling for the first 10 games, Rivers has been outstanding for the past month. He hasn’t thrown an interception in his past four games after throwing 17 in the first 10 games. Rivers he was 17 of 23 for 270 yards and a touchdown Sunday.
Mathews misses 100: San Diego running back Ryan Mathews had 90 yards on 26 carries. It broke a streak of three straight games of him rushing for 100-plus yards.
What’s next: The Chargers play at Detroit on Saturday in the final AFC West-NFC North making of the season. Both teams have playoff hopes.
December, 18, 2011
A look at a devastating loss for the Oakland Raiders.
What it means: This defeat was absolutely crushing for the Raiders. They were poised to pull into a first-place tie with Denver, which lost by 18 at home to New England. However, a late Detroit rally kept Oakland a game behind Denver in the division. It was also a major blow for the Raiders’ wild-card chances. Oakland has now lost three straight games and is 7-7.
A man named Suh: In his first game back from a two-game NFL suspension, Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh got a hand on a 65-yard field goal attempt by Sebastian Janikowski as time expired. Welcome back, big fella.
Late disaster: We’ve seen the Raiders’ defense collapse like this before. But this was bad. Oakland had a 27-14 lead, but the Lions scored twice in the final 4:59, including a touchdown with 49 seconds to go. It culminated a 98-yard drive that started with 2:11 remaining in the game.
Palmer mostly good: The good news for the Raiders is quarterback Carson Palmer had a bounce-back game. He couldn’t extend a late drive, but he had a real nice day. Palmer completed 32 of 40 passes for 367 yards. He did not throw an interception. He went into the game with 13 this season.
Big day for receivers: Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson (who caught the game-winning touchdown) had nine catches for 214 yards. Oakland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey had eight catches for 155 yards. Heyward-Bey needs to be more consistent but he is capable of good things.
Penalties a plenty: We knew this was coming. Oakland came into the game leading the NFL in penalties and Detroit was fourth. Oakland committed 10 penalties for 86 yards and Detroit was flagged nine times for 72 yards.
What’s next: Oakland plays at Kansas City on Saturday. The Chiefs beat the Raiders 28-0 in Oakland in October.
December, 18, 2011
A look at the Kansas City Chiefs' stunning 19-14 upset of the Green Bay Packers.
What it means: The Chiefs have derailed history. This game will be talked about in future years when teams go undefeated well into December. This has to be one of the Chiefs’ regular-season highlights in recent memory. In their first game after firing coach Todd Haley, the now 6-8 Chiefs knocked off the 13-1 Packers and did it in fairly convincing matter.
Crennel’s candidacy: Interim coach Romeo Crennel couldn’t have helped his cause any better than he did Sunday. He was already a candidate to be the permanent coach and after leading the team to this win, he’ll take a major step closer to becoming the head man in 2012.
Orton provides spark: What a way for Kyle Orton to make his starting debut for the Chiefs. He was 23-of-31 for 299 yards passing. It was a highlight of a difficult year for the former Denver starter. If Orton finishes strong in the next two games, Kansas City could potentially consider signing him and replacing Matt Cassel.
Stalling in the red zone: The Chiefs could have won this game by 20 points, but they kept stalling in the red zone. In the end, it didn’t hurt the Chiefs.
Great defensive effort: The Kansas City defense has been up and down this season. It gave up 37 points last week to the Jets, but did a great job Sunday against the best offense in the NFL. Great work by Crennel’s defense.
Finally AFC West trouble: In each of its three previous games against the AFC West this season, Green Bay scored at least 45 points.
What’s next: The Chiefs host Oakland on Saturday as they look for the season sweep over their division rival.