Final Word: AFC West

December, 4, 2009
12/04/09
4:00
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 13:

[+] EnlargeMatt Cassel, Josh McDaniels
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonMatt Cassel and Josh McDaniels face each other for the first time since they left New England for new opportunities.
McDaniels and Cassel meet again: Broncos coach Josh McDaniels will be on the same field with Matt Cassel, but this time they're representing different teams. Cassel flourished under McDaniels last season in New England after Tom Brady went down for the season in Week 1. Cassel’s success helped solidify McDaniels’ status as a quality head-coaching candidate. When he became the head man, McDaniels looked into trading for Cassel before he was acquired by Kansas City. During those talks, Jay Cutler's name came up. Cutler caught wind and after a five-week drama, Cutler was shipped out. Cassel will always be connected to McDaniels’ legacy as a head coach.

Good day to remember Thomas: The Chiefs are retiring the No. 58 jersey of the late Derrick Thomas and honoring his election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past summer. It’s very fitting that Thomas is being honored on a day Kansas City plays Denver. Thomas terrorized the Broncos. He was legendary quarterback John Elway’s greatest tormentor.

Gradkowski goes home: Bruce Gradkowski will start his third NFL game as a Raider in his hometown of Pittsburgh on Sunday. It will be Gradkowski’s third start in his hometown –- for his third team. His previous starts in Pittsburgh were for Tampa Bay and Cleveland. Gradkowski has given Oakland a spark with his energy. Expect him to be especially energetic as he tries to impress the home folks.

Chargers have to continue to dominate bottom-feeders: The Chargers have done exactly what they have needed to do this season: They have beaten the teams they are supposed to beat. San Diego is 5-0 against teams with losing records, 3-3 against teams with winning records. However, San Diego, which has won six straight games, has three straight wins against teams with winning marks. Sunday, the Chargers play at 1-10 Cleveland. The Chargers are on pace to win the AFC's No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs. They can’t stumble against the Browns. Recent history says they won’t.

Arrowhead Stadium has been a house of horrors for Denver in the stretch run: The Broncos need to win Sunday at Kansas City to keep up their playoff pace. However, it may not be easy if history is any indication. The Broncos are 1-16 in Kansas City in December. History may simply be history, but the Broncos will enter Arrowhead knowing it has been against them.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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