AFC West Week 17 Preview and Predictions

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u  AFC West Week 17

OAKLAND RAIDERS (12-3) & DENVER BRONCOS (8-7)

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos

Matt McGloin was an unsigned free agent in 2013 by the Oakland Raiders, having his first appearance November 2013 against the Philadelphia Eagles in the 4th quarter.  Two weeks later, McGloin had his first start of 6 starts of the season against the Houston Texans, throwing for 3 touchdowns and leading the Raiders to a 28-23 victory.  Unfortunately, that was McGloin only win in his 6 starts.

Week 17 will be McGloin’s first start for the Raiders since 2013.  And although, the Raiders have already locked the playoffs, a win would give the Raiders some momentum going into the postseason without quarterback, Derek Carr.

Is Matt McGloin ready to lead the Oakland Raiders against the Denver Broncos 6th overall defense?

It’s unrealistic to expect big things from a back-up quarterback who’s only had two minor appearances on-field this year.  It’s even more unrealistic for a quarterback to come into a game and face-off against the Broncos defense who are 1st against the pass (allowing only 187.2 yards per game), and only 29th against the run (allowing 135.2 yards per game).  But, that’s exactly what the Raiders expect McGloin to do.

You can expect McGloin to conservatively manage the ball, make a few deep throws to keep the Denver defense honest, but ultimately look to exploit Denver’s weak run defense with Latavius Murray.  Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree will need to avoid drops on short to medium looks and make some plays in space, trusting McGloin to put the ball where they can catch it.

With Derek Carr out, the Raiders will be more than motivated to win to maintain 1st in the AFC west and have the first round bye-week.

Can the Oakland Raiders defense prevent giving up big plays?

Remember, although Carr might be out, the Raiders defense been trending up and hasn’t changed.  However, with a weaker offense, it will be even more important for the Raiders defense to step up and make plays.

The Raiders have a 27th overall defense, 25th against the pass (allowing 260.9 yards per game) and 21st against the run (allowing 115.9 yards per game).  Defensive end, Khalil Mack, has been leading the Raiders defense with 11 sacks, an interception, 5 forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown.  But, everyone will need to step-up on Sunday if they expect to win.

Do the Denver Broncos even care whether they win?

 

Trevor Siemian is expected to start on Sunday against the Raiders, but Paxton Lynch is also looking at some playing time in the last game for the Broncos in the 2016 season.

After a promising start to the season, Siemian has failed to come through on various occasions late.  Denver has totaled 3-touchdowns in the month of December, the fewest in the league, which attributed to several critical losses for Denver.  Siemian has been known to pull a trick or two out of his hat and that’s exactly what he’s looking to do on Sunday against the Raiders.  But with a bleak run game led by underwhelming rookie Devontae Booker and perpetual re-tread Justin Forsett, the offense will have to rely on its pass game to out-play the Raiders.

What can we expect in Week 17?

  • Latavius Murry has a touchdown.
  • Matt McGloin has a passing touchdown.
  • Emmanuel Sanders has a touchdown.

The Oakland Raiders win.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-4) & SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (5-10)

Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers

In this division game, the Kansas City Chiefs are looking for a win in the final game of the regular season.  A win would tie the Chiefs with the current first place leader of the AFC west, the Oakland Raiders.  And, since the Chiefs swept the Raiders this season, the Chiefs would have the tie breaker that would make them 1st in the AFC west, and proud owners of the coveted first-round bye.

With injuries plaguing the San Diego Chargers, with a possibility of a post-season long gone, as well as the sting of losing to the then winless Cleveland Browns in week 16, the San Diego Chargers have little to be excited about entering the last game of the regular season.  Like many teams, PRIDE all the Chargers will be playing for.  After a shameful defeat at the hand of the Browns, the Chargers need to end their potentially last season in San Diego on an up note.

Can the San Diego Chargers win?

  • The Chiefs won’t be sitting anyone as they need the win for a shot at a bye week.
  • The Chargers need to cover Tyreek Hill.

Tyreek Hill

Wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, has been a major contributor for the Chiefs with his special teams ability returning kicks and punts, while also becoming a significant offensive threat both at wide receiver and running back.  To stop Hill on returns, the Chargers need to kick the ball out of bounds.  Putting the ball at the 25 or even 40-yard line is better than Hill returning the ball for a touchdown.  Because of his versatility on offense, the Chiefs like to use Hill in a lot of misdirection plays.  The Chargers need to keep a man on Hill to stop any possible big plays.

  • The Chargers need to stop Travis Kelce.

At 6-5, Kelce is too big to be covered by most cornerbacks or safeties.  To slow Kelce, the Chargers will need to jam Kelce off the line or disrupt the timing of his route.  Kelce has 84 receptions for 1117 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns this year.

  • The Chargers need to put Pressure on Alex Smith.

Alex Smith

It’s been done.  Alex Smith has 3238 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and has been sacked 27-times.  This is where the Chargers defensive line comes into play.  Rookie defensive end, Joey Bosa, has recorded 9 and a half sacks, 42 tackles, 42 quarterback pressures, 12 quarterback hits and a forced fumble on the year.  Linebacker, Melvin Ingram, has 8 sacks and Denzel Perryman has 80 tackles, and in the secondary, cornerback, Casey Hayward, leads the NFL with 7-interceptions.  So, pressure on Alex Smith will be key in keeping this offense off-sync.

  • Philip Rivers needs to hit his receivers and get the run game going.

Philip Rivers

The Chargers have been successful when they’ve had balance this season.  Philip Rivers 4117 passing yards, 31 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.  Since running back, Melvin Gordon, has been out with knee an hip injuries, that balance has been lost.  Gordon has practiced in full this week with a knee brace, and he’s motivated to get back since he’s only 3 yards short of a 1000-yard season, but with nothing at stake, it’s unclear if the Chargers will want to risk their star running back for more than a few snaps.

With or without Gordon, the Chargers offense will need to find a way to get the run game going.  But with only Ronnie Hillman and Andre Williams left in the backfield, as well as fullback Derek Watt, it will be easier said than done.

What can we expect in Week 17?

  • Tyrell Williams has a touchdown.

I’m going for the long ball, the San Diego Chargers win at home to finish the season.

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