AFC West: 2012 Week 16 Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: Broncos 34, Browns 12

December, 23, 2012
A look at yet another Denver victory:

What it means: The Broncos moved another step closer to a first-round bye in the postseason. Denver can earn the No. 2 seed with a win at home over Kansas City next week or a New England home loss to Miami. Denver can get the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Chiefs and a Houston loss at Indianapolis. Denver has 10 straight wins and is now 12-3. There is no doubt this team is very much in the mix for the Super Bowl.

Focused club: On the surface, a 22-point home win over a team like Cleveland is not exactly awe-inspiring. But the easy Denver win is another example of how focused this team has been. The Broncos are rolling week in and week out. That’s very difficult to sustain. Denver coach John Fox doesn’t get enough credit for keeping his team so focused and steady.

Big day for Manning: Denver quarterback Peyton Manning continued to press for the MVP award. He was brilliant. He threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns. He hit receiver Demaryius Thomas nine times for 102 yards, which should seal a Pro Bowl berth for the third-year receiver. Even without standout guard Chris Kuper, Denver’s offensive line was excellent. Manning was not sacked.

Moreno slowed some: Knowshon Moreno had 238 yards in his previous two games. He wasn’t that good Sunday as he finished with 78 yards on 22 carries. But it was good enough to keep the Broncos balanced.

Miller sets mark: Second-year linebacker Von Miller continued his push for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award (Houston’s J.J. Watt is probably the favorite). Miller had 1.5 sacks. He now has 17.5 sacks this season, which is a new Denver franchise record. Overall, Denver had six sacks Sunday. Elvis Dumervil, the previous team record holder, had two and has 11 on the season.

What’s next: The season finale against the Chiefs. The Chiefs played Denver tough last month. I’d be shocked if the 2-13 Chiefs could muster a similar effort next week with Denver playing for so much and the Chiefs on the cusp of getting the No. 1 overall pick.

Wrap-up: Colts 20, Chiefs 13

December, 23, 2012

A look at the final home game in Kansas City this season:

What it means: The Chiefs were game but they fell to the Colts, who clinched a playoff berth. Kansas City is now 2-13. The Chiefs will get the No. 1 pick in the draft with a loss at Denver next week or a Jacksonville win at Tennessee. They went 1-7 at Arrowhead Stadium this season.

Charles sets mark: Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles has been a star on a terrible team. Charles had 226 yards rushing on 22 carries. He also set an NFL mark. He has averaged 5.82 yards per carry in his career. That is the best in NFL history. Take a bow, sir. It was a great overall day on the ground for the Chiefs as Peyton Hillis added 101 yards. The Chiefs had 352 rushing yards on 44 carries. That’s an average of eight yards per tote. That was what the Chiefs envisioned when they paired Charles with Hillis.

Turnovers: The Chiefs had three turnovers. They had gone six games without committing more than one turnover. The Chiefs committed 29 turnovers in the first half of the season.

What’s next: The Chiefs finish the season at Denver as they try to play spoiler against the Broncos.

Wrap-up: Panthers 17, Raiders 6

December, 23, 2012
A look at another lackluster Oakland showing:

What it means: It’s another loss in a lost season. The Raiders, who ended a six-game losing streak last week with a 15-0 shutout win over the Chiefs, are now 4-11. They are on pace for the No. 3 pick in the draft. Oakland is 1-6 on the road and it went 0-4 against the NFC South.

Palmer hurt, Pryor still sits: Carson Palmer was lost for the game in the first quarter with a rib injury and we found out the answer to the Terrelle Pryor question: The Raiders will only use him in spot duty. Matt Leinart took over for Palmer and Pryor played three plays in a wrinkle offense. After the game, Oakland coach Dennis Allen said the obvious: The team doesn’t think he is ready. So, it seems if Palmer can’t play in the season finale, Leinart will play at San Diego. I think Pryor should play. So he’s not ready. Who cares? The season is lost and we know Leinart is not the answer. Give Pryor some experience. Does it matter if it costs the Raiders a game at this point?

Allen safe? Prior to the game, CBS Sports reported that owner Mark Davis will keep Allen. Several weeks ago, Davis said he wants to see progress. A touchdown-less win over the Chiefs and six losses really isn’t progress. Still, I’d be surprised if Allen is shown the door. His coordinators, especially offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, may suffer a different fate, though.

Touchdown drought: The Raiders haven’t scored a touchdown since Week 14 against Denver. The Raiders have seven field goals in the past two games. It is tied for the longest touchdown drought in the NFL.

East Coast blues continue: The Raiders lost their 10th straight game in the Eastern Time Zone.

Chippy game: There was a lot of pushing and shoving between these non-rivals. In all, there were 16 penalties for 167 yards. Several players, including Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who got away with a kick at Oakland defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, could be fined.

McFadden a non-factor: Darren McFadden’s lousy season continues. He had 33 yards on 17 carries. He had nothing going Sunday.

What’s next: Oakland wraps up its season at San Diego. The Chargers beat Oakland in Week 1.

Wrap-up: Chargers 27, Jets 17

December, 23, 2012

A look at a good effort by the Chargers:

What it means: Not a whole lot, really. The Chargers are 6-9 and they have clinched second place in a bad division. This is the Chargers' second road win in three weeks. But the problem is the Chargers have been inconsistent all season and this will not change the inevitable: The Chargers are going to make wholesale changes.

Smothering pass rush: The Chargers registered 11 sacks Sunday. It was one fewer than the NFL record. That is an incredible performance. Rookie defensive lineman Kendall Reyes has been coming on strong and he had 3.5 sacks, and linebacker Shaun Phillips had 2.5.

Solid day for Rivers: San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers threw for just 165 yards, but he had two touchdown passes and did not commit a turnover. The Chargers will take that every week.

Spurlock helps again: Returner/receiver Micheal Spurlock continued to make an impression. He scored the first touchdown of the game on a 63-yard punt return. He could have a future with the team.

Taylor tears ACL: In his first NFL start, safety Brandon Taylor tore his ACL. He could be challenged to be ready for the start of next season.

San Diego ground woes continue: The Chargers had just 87 yards rushing on 30 carries. The Chargers haven’t had a rushing touchdown since Week 5. Every other team in the league has scored at least two touchdowns on the ground.

Yardage dearth continues: The Chargers had 223 yards of offense. San Diego has had fewer than 300 yards (which is a modest amount) in each of the past six games.

What it means: The Norv Turner-A.J. Smith era will very, very likely end at home against Oakland next Sunday.