AFC West Week 15 Preview and Predictions

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u  AFC West Week 15

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-3)

Tennessee TitansKansas City Chiefs

Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs are tied for first place in the AFC west after defeating the Oakland Raiders in week 14.

The Tennessee Titans are tied for first place with the Houston Texans in the AFC south after defeating the Denver Broncos 13-10 in week 14.

Week 15 isn’t just the start of Saturday Night NFL football, it also means, for most teams, it’s down to the last three games of the season if they want to secure a spot atop their respective divisions.  This game will be important for both teams, determining whether the Chiefs and the Titans remain at 1st in their perspective divisions, or whether they slip to 2nd.

The Kansas City Chiefs will be a hard team to defeat.  The Chiefs have been a force, winning 8 out of their last 9 games, losing only to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  So, if the Buccaneers could defeat the Chiefs, can the Titans do the same?

How can the Titans win?

  • Marcus Mariota needs to lead this team.
Marcus Mariota - USA TODAY Sports Photo

Marcus Mariota – USA TODAY Sports Photo

Tennessee quarterback, Marcus Mariota, and Tampa Bay’s quarterback, Jameis Winston, were drafted 2nd and 1st respectively in the 2015 draft.  It’s not fair, since both have different styles of play, but the two quarterbacks will probably be compared for their entire career.

Regardless of whether you believe Mariota or Winston is the better quarterback doesn’t really matter.  What does matter, is that the Titans need to win to take control of the AFC South (assuming the Texans lose in week 15).

And the competency of the Titans offense will be in large part dependent on how well Mariota plays against the Chiefs.

In week 14, the Titans were underdogs to the Broncos, but managed a win.  However, the 13-10 victory is credited to the Titans defense, who held the Broncos scoreless for the first 3-quarters of the game, rather than the Titans offense.  With the Broncos having the best defense in the league against the pass, Mariota had one of his worse games of the season, completing only 6 out of 20 attempts for only 88 yards, no touchdowns with the only touchdown made by running back, DeMarco Murray.

The Titans should have more opportunity in their pass game facing the Chiefs defense, who is 18th against the pass, allowing 251.2 yards per game.   Unfortunately for the Mariota, the Chiefs defense has 14 interceptions (5th most in the league), 14 forced fumbles (10th most in the league) and 5 defensive touchdowns.

  • Run DeMarco Murray Run.

The Titans have a very respectable run game with the trio of DeMarco Murray (having the second most rushing yards in the league among running backs and 9 touchdowns), Derrick Henry and Marcus Mariota (348 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns) pounding the ground.  And with the Chiefs defense 27th against the run, allowing 122.9 yards per game, and playing at Arrowhead Stadium in freezing cold weather, the Titans will be looking to run the ball.  The good news for the Titans is that Chiefs linebacker, Derrick Johnson, will be out on Sunday after suffering an Achilles injury against the Oakland Raiders in week 14.

  • Contain the Chiefs Passing Game.

The Titans defense allowed Broncos quarterback, Trevor Siemian, to throw for 334 passing yards in week 14.  Not surprising.  The Titans are 31st against the pass, allowing 274.9 yards per game, but 3rd in the league against the run, allowing 86.6 yards per game.  If they want any chance to leave Arrowhead Stadium as victors, the defense will need to contain the Chiefs passing game, including Travis Kelce, who’s having a career year, and newfound threat, Tyreek Hill.

Chiefs quarterback, Alex Smith, has had success throwing downfield in the past few games, finding his rhythm against softer secondary, which the Titans definitely are.  The Titans will need to disrupt Smith early to make certain he’s unable to set the tempo.

The Titans are the only NFL team with 2-players with at least 9 sacks, Brian Orakpo (10) and Derrick Morgan (9).

The Titans have totaled 33 sacks (9th in the league), has 11 interceptions (15th in the league) and 2 forced fumbles (32nd in the league).

What can we expect in Week 15?

The Tennessee Titans win (maybe).

OAKLAND RAIDERS (10-3) & SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (5-8)

Oakland Raiderssan-diego-chargers

Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers

There are no words to accurately express the Oakland Raiders, 13-21, loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in week 14.  After ending the first half 10-21, the Raiders missed several opportunities to score, including getting only 3 points from two offensive turnovers by the Chiefs deep in their own territory.  There’s a lot of excuses that could be made…the weather, Derek Carr’s broken pinky…but the end result was a missed opportunity for the Raiders to remain in control of the AFC West and lock in home field advantage and a bye week.

If these two powerhouse teams end up with the same record, the Chiefs sweeping the Oakland Raiders this season would cause the Raiders to lose the tie breaker and finish the season 2nd in the division.

USA Today Sports Photo

USA Today Sports Photo

With the San Diego Chargers out of contention for the postseason, the only reasons they have to win are pride and to ruin another teams season.

Who will win…the Oakland Raiders or the San Diego Chargers?

  • The Chargers have lost their backfield.

Running back, Melvin Gordon, has been the entire backfield, or should I say backbone, of the Chargers this season.

Unfortunately for the Chargers, they will be without Gordon this Sunday against the Raiders.

Without Gordon, the Chargers have lost one of their highest contributing offensive assets.  With the Raiders defense 26th in the league against the run, allowing 120 .2 yards per game, the Chargers run game is a necessary part of the offense play book, and Kenneth Farrow and Ronnie Hillman, previously with the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos, will more than likely see a bigger role.

  • No more excuses for Derek Carr.

After a six-game win streak, Carr look shockingly terrible in week 14 loss against the Chiefs.  If it was the weather, there’s hope for week 15.  If it was his finger, well…may God have mercy.  In week 14, Carr only made 17-41 passes, threw for just 117 yards, and scored only 1 touchdown in 4 red-zone attempts.  The loss to the Chiefs brings Carr’s record to 1-5 against the Chiefs in his career.

  • The Raiders Defense vs. The Chargers defense

The Raiders defense are among the bottom of the league against the run (26th) and the pass (27th).

The Chargers defense are among the bottom of the league against the pass (25th), but have a top ten defense against the run (7th).

The Raiders have 1 defensive touchdown, while the Chargers have 4.

Yeah, the Raiders lost week 14 and allowed the Chiefs to score 21 points in the first half.

But, the Raiders defense did hold the Chiefs scoreless in the second half.

  • The San Diego Chargers continue to beat themselves.

The San Diego Chargers aren’t a bad team, but unfortunately, they are not a winning team.  And without Melvin Gordon, they are looking to have a tough fight against the Raiders.  In the last four-loses for the Chargers, Philip Rivers had 12-interceptions, sacked 15-times and had 2 loss fumbles.

In the Chargers last four-wins, Philip Rivers had 2-interceptions, sacked 8-times and a loss fumbles (but the team totaled 3-loss fumbles).

If the Chargers want to win against division rivals, the Raiders, Philip Rivers will need to avoid interceptions, and the offensive line will need to do their job and give Rivers enough time to make plays.

What can we expect in Week 15?

  • A defensive touchdown.

The Oakland Raiders win.

DENVER BRONCOS (8-5)

New England PatriotsDenver Broncos Logo

New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos will host the (11-2) New England Patriots Sunday afternoon, and we are faced with the old age question…will a strong offense (Patriots) prevail or will a hard fought defense (Broncos) be able to hold their ground?

Will Tom Brady and the Patriots find success in the mile-high city?

  • Tom Brady
Tom Brady - AP Photo

Tom Brady – AP Photo

Brady has lost 1 game this year, to the Seattle Seahawks in week 10.  You might hate him (or love him), but there’s no denying the Tom Brady + Bill Belichick duo.  Even after missing 4 games, Brady has a passer rating of 113.6, with 2876 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and taking only 12 sacks.  You can expect the sack number to go up.  The Denver Broncos defense has the second most sacks this season (38) with Broncos linebacker, Von Miller, leading the league with 13.5 sacks.  With the Broncos totaling 12 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and 4 defensive touchdowns, Tom Brady will have his work cut out for him.

  • The Denver Broncos defense is number-one against the pass, but their run defense isn’t.
Von Miller

Von Miller

In week 10, Brady had 316 passing yards and no passing touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks, who has the 7th best pass defense, allowing 224.6 yards per game.  But, the Patriots running back, LeGarrette Blount, had 59 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns.

The Broncos have the 29th defense against the run, allowing 127.2 yards per game.

You can expect a lot of LeGarrette Blount this Sunday.

The Broncos team just hasn’t been the same this season.  Although there’s no doubting they have a strong defense, their offense has too many holes and Siemian hasn’t been a consistent leader for this offense.  The Broncos have been scored on before and if anyone can score a passing touchdown again, it will be Tom Brady.

  • The New England Patriots.

The Patriots defense are 15th against the pass, allowing 247.8 yards per game, and 6th against the run, allowing 90.2 yards per game.  In week 14, the Patriots defense allowed only 42 rushing yards to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Broncos has had a lot of trouble in the run game without C.J. Anderson, adding running back, Justin Forsett.  Unfortunately for the Broncos, in week 14, they were held to 18 rushing yards.

Also, in stark contrast to Brady, Trevor Siemian, who’s started for the Broncos this season, has 89.7 passer rating, throwing for 2730 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and being sacked 27 times.  Forcing the Broncos score to keep up will be key for the Patriots.

What can we expect in Week 15?

  • Justin Forsett does not have a rushing touchdown.

The New England Patriots win.

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