Final Word: AFC West

December, 18, 2009
12/18/09
4:03
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 15:

Fight for the No. 2 seed: A mini-playoff game will break out in San Diego on Sunday. The 10-3 Chargers play host to the 9-4 Bengals. The winner will have the inside track on earning the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs. That is a huge advantage. The No. 2 seed gets a first-round bye and is just a home win away from going to the AFC title game.

[+] EnlargeElvis Dumervil
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesElvis Dumervil looks to add to his league-leading sack total Sunday against Oakland.
A scary memory for Denver: The Broncos are 8-5 for the second straight season. That does not bring back great memories in the Rocky Mountains. Denver entered Week 15 last season needing to win one of its final three games or have San Diego to lose one of its final three games. Neither happened. The Broncos finished 8-8 and out of the playoff mix. The Broncos, once again, are closing in on a playoff spot this season with an 8-5 record. If the Broncos beat Oakland at home on Sunday and Kansas City at home in the season finale Jan. 3, they should earn a wild-card spot. Let’s see if the 8-5 blues strike Denver again.

Cable could be working for his job: Coach job security is never super strong in Oakland. So, at 4-9, Tom Cable is no sure thing to return next year for his second full season as Oakland’s coach. With quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who gave Oakland a major spark when he replaced JaMarcus Russell, injured, Oakland could have difficulty winning Sunday at Denver with Charlie Frye making his third start in three seasons. Cable needs to do his best to win Sunday and in the final two games. If the Raiders finish 4-12 or 5-11, Cable could be in trouble. Oakland just brought in quarterback J.P. Losman. He enjoyed a resurgence this year in the United Football League, working with former NFL coach Jim Fassel. Fassel probably would jump at the chance to coach in Oakland. A Losman-Fassel reunion could be intriguing. Cable has to do his best to keep Oakland from considering other options.

Can the Chiefs end their Arrowhead Stadium season on a good note? When they first saw the 2009 schedule in April, the Chiefs had to feel good about the chance to fatten their record in December with three home games in a row. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Kansas City lost the first two games to Denver and Buffalo; only Sunday’s game against Cleveland remains. The Chiefs (3-10) aren’t going to the postseason, and it would be good for team morale to end the home slate with a win and salvage what looked to be a great opportunity when the schedule was released.

Dumervil has to be licking his chops: Oakland’s offensive line allowed six sacks in the second half last week against Washington. The line simply fell apart. If the Raiders don’t find a cure, Denver's Elvis Dumervil could easily break the franchise’s single-season sack record. Dumervil has 15 sacks, which leads the NFL. The Denver team record for sacks is 16, set by Simon Fletcher in 1992. If the Raiders don’t address the issue, Dumervil could be celebrating often Sunday.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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