Final Word: AFC West

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
1:30
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 13:

How Orton can help the Chiefs: New Chiefs quarterback Kyle Orton may begin his Kansas City era Sunday at Chicago. He was claimed by the Chiefs (and the Bears and Cowboys too) last week after he was cut by Denver. He didn’t play in Week 12. While the Chiefs are hoping to get production quickly from Orton, who played in five games with Denver this season, one area in which he might see quick success is on play-action plays. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Orton has completed 70.3 percent of passes thrown during play-action plays, seventh in the NFL. The Chiefs also have been good in this area -- the injured Matt Cassel was 10th. Orton will need some help from an often-unreliable Kansas City receiving crew, however. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chiefs lead the AFC West with 18 drops. Five receivers are tied for the AFC West lead with four drops each. Three play for Kansas City: Dexter McCluster, Jon Baldwin and Dwayne Bowe. The Chargers’ Mike Tolbert and Denver’s Eddie Royal are the other two players in the division with four drops.

Why Denver is winning: The Broncos, who play at Minnesota on Sunday, are winning the way first-year coach John Fox won in Carolina – with a strong ground game and a strong defense. In the past four games, all victories, Denver joined the 1971 Miami Dolphins as the only teams in NFL history to have one or fewer turnovers, 60 or fewer points allowed and 876 yards or more yards rushing over such a span. That’s a sign of a team playing complete football. Hat tip to the Broncos’ PR department for providing that stat.

Lechler’s impact: Can Oakland punter Shane Lechler dominate at Miami on Sunday as he did last week against Chicago? He averaged 54.6 gross yards on five punts, including an unforgettable 80-yard punt that neutralized Chicago star return man Devin Hester — an Raiders team record. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Lechler’s big game against the Bears raised his season gross punting average to 51.47 yards per punt. If he can keep his average at that level for the rest of the season, he'd break Sammy Baugh's record of 51.4 yards per punt, set in 1940.

[+] EnlargeNorv Turner
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesWith his job in jeopardy, Norv Turner can't afford to lose to Jacksonville, led by interim coach Mel Tucker.
Turner can’t be outcoached: San Diego coach Norv Turner has virtually has no chance of remaining the team’s coach after this season. The Chargers are 4-7 and have lost six in a row. They are three games behind in the AFC West and the AFC wild-card race. If the Chargers don’t make the playoffs for the second consecutive season, Turner will very likely be fired -- which makes Monday night's game at Jacksonville a must-win. The Jaguars just fired coach Jack Del Rio; defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will take over as interim coach. If Tucker outshines Turner and the Jaguars beat the Chargers, Turner will be completely sunk. Turner has made several decisions in recent games that have been scrutinized. He needs to be on his game Monday if he has any hope of sticking around in San Diego.

Decker goes home: Receiver Eric Decker is going back to his old collegiate field on a hot streak. Decker and the white-hot Denver Broncos -- who have won five of their past six games -- visit the Minnesota Vikings in a game played at the Metrodome. It used to be the home for both the Vikings and the Minnesota Golden Gophers before the latter opened their on-campus stadium. Decker started his college career playing in the dome for the University of Minnesota. He became one of the nation’s best college players on that field, so the 2010 third-round pick and Minnesota native will be completely comfortable playing in front of many friends and family members.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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