Final Word: AFC West

December, 3, 2010
12/03/10
4:00
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of information about Week 13:

Will they shake hands? All eyes will be on midfield after Denver’s visit to Kansas City on Sunday no matter the outcome of the game. Everyone will be looking to see if Kansas City coach Todd Haley shakes the hand of Denver coach Josh McDaniels. A firestorm started in Week 10 when Haley refused to shake hands with McDaniels after Denver crushed the Chiefs 49-29. Haley apologized the next day but neither he nor McDaniels shed light on what the issue was. The Broncos played hard until the end and I’m sure that had something to do with Haley’s disgust. This week, both coaches have downplayed the significance of the incident. I would be surprised if there was another incident after Sunday’s rematch.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Myers
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesThe struggling Raiders may have to rely on their special teams if they want to beat the Chargers.
The Raiders need to get their block on again: In the past two games, San Diego’s special teams have actually been good after struggling in various areas in the first nine games. The Chargers' biggest problem on special teams had been in punt protection. San Diego has had five punts blocked this season, including two against Oakland. The Raiders took a 9-0 lead on two blocked punts in the first five minutes of their 35-27 win over the Chargers in Week 5. With the Chargers surging and the Raiders struggling, Oakland will need big plays from its special teams to pull off the season sweep.

Denver needs to stop the Chiefs on the ground: Kansas City has the best ground game in the NFL -- averaging 174.3 yards per game and coming off a win at Seattle in which it rushed for 270 yards. In contrast, when the Chiefs lost at Denver, Kansas City managed only 51 rushing yards. A big reason why was because the Chiefs fell behind 35-0 in the second quarter. The Chiefs have to establish the ground game early and wear down the Broncos. Denver has allowed 100 points in the past three games.

How long will Norv’s speech pay dividends? San Diego coach Norv Turner sparked his struggling team at halftime of an Oct. 31 game against Tennessee. The Chargers were losing and on the verge of falling to 2-6. However, the normally stoic Turner let loose with an emotional speech at halftime, telling his players it was time to get going. His players listened. The Chargers came back to win the game and they have not lost since. San Diego is 6-5 and riding a four-game win streak. The Chargers have made a habit of getting hot late in the past three seasons, but this year’s hot streak is, in part, due to their coach’s speech.

Chargers can keep their bags unpacked for a while: The Chargers can’t ask for anything more. They trail the 7-4 Chiefs by one game in the AFC West as they head into December play. We all know how good San Diego is. The Chargers have won eight straight games in November and are unbeaten in 19 December games since Philip Rivers took over as the starting quarterback in 2006. The Chargers enter the month with three straight home games against the Raiders, Chiefs and 49ers in an 11-day stretch.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?