AFC West: rapid reaction 14

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

DENVER -- It wasn't easy nor was it pretty.

But we've become accustomed to such games in the AFC West.

But the bottom line for the Denver Broncos is they won a game they needed to win. The Broncos beat the Chiefs and their magic number to clinch their first AFC West title in three years is now one. Denver is 8-5 and San Diego, which played its best game and walloped Oakland, 34-7, in its last game, is 5-8. Any Denver win or any San Diego loss or tie in the final three weeks of the season gives Denver the division championship.

Denver plays at Carolina next week, then hosts Buffalo and closes out the season at San Diego. The Chargers play at Kansas City next week, then plays at Tampa Bay before hosting Denver. If Denver loses out and San Diego wins out, the Chargers would win the division on a tiebreaker because of a better division record.

Yes, things look for good for Denver. Still, the Broncos had to fight for Sunday's win over the usually game but not-good-enough Chiefs. Kansas City had a 17-7 lead in the second quarter. But Denver scored the game's final 17 points to kill Kansas City and to put San Diego on life support.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

A prescription for the San Diego Chargers' woes?

A date with the Oakland Raiders. It's a proven remedy for the Chargers.

The Chargers' lopsided victory over visiting Oakland on Thursday night was their 11th straight win over Oakland dating to 2003. It is currently the longest winning streak any team has against another team in the NFL. It was as easy as any win for the Chargers this season.

San Diego played its best football of the season Thursday night. It was explosive and productive on offense and aggressive and timely on defense. But is it too late?

San Diego is now 5-8 and still trails Denver (7-5) in the AFC West. The Broncos, who host 2-10 Kansas City on Sunday, have a magic number of two to win the division.

Whether it's too late for San Diego remains to be seen, but it entered the final quarter of the season Thursday night knowing it can play good football on both sides of the ball.

While San Diego played well, Oakland was awful. After a big win at Denver 11 days ago, the Raiders have been terrible, especially on offense, in losses to the Chiefs and the Chargers. Oakland's only points Thursday night came on special teams.

The loss officially eliminates the 3-10 Raiders from contention in the AFC West. Oakland now has to try to avoid history. If the Raiders, who host New England on Dec. 14, lose one more game this season, they will become the first team in NFL history to lose at least 11 games in six straight seasons.

The way the Raiders looked Thursday, there is little chance they will avoid that unwanted distinction.

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