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AFC West Breakdown
San Diego Chargers – The Bolts look to make it two in a row as they visit Tampa Bay to take on the resurgent Buccaneers. Led by the outstanding play of rookie running back Doug Martin, the Bucs have won three of their last four games, including two in a row. Most recently, they defeated the Oakland Raiders 42-32 on Sunday behind a banner day for Martin, who rushed for a franchise-record 251 yards and four touchdowns. How he fares against the Chargers’ fourth-ranked rushing defense will go a long way toward determining the outcome, as the Bolts allow just 84.0 yards-per-game on the ground.
Denver Broncos – The Broncos maintained their one game lead over San Diego in the AFC West as Peyton Manning tossed two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter for a 31-23 come-from-behind win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Next up for Denver is a trip to Carolina to take on Cam Newton and the Panthers. Carolina defeated the Washington Redskins 21-13 to snap a five game losing streak. The Panthers had been playing well prior to the victory as they now aim to put together a winning streak to re-enter the NFC Wild Card picture. They have been in nearly every game this season, as their previous four defeats were by a combined 12 points, so the match between these two teams figures to be a close one.
Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs head to Pittsburgh for their second straight primetime game when they take on Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers on Monday night. The Steelers are undefeated at home this season and are coming off an emotional victory over the New York Giants, where they scored the final 14 points of the game to steal a 24-20 decision. Pittsburgh also boasts the number one pass defense in the league, surrendering just 182.6 ypg, so no matter if it’s Brady Quinn or Matt Cassel under center, the Chiefs offense will be facing a tough task.
Oakland Raiders– Following a 42-32 loss to the Buccaneers, the Raiders look to rebound against the Ravens next week in Baltimore. The Ravens pulled away late from the Cleveland Browns on Sunday for a 25-15 victory. The AFC North leaders will rely heavily on Ray Rice, the dynamic running back who is equally adept in the passing game as he is on the ground. The Raiders have had trouble containing short, shifty runners like Rice this season, most notably this past week when they gave up 251 yards and four touchdowns to Martin.