Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez // Associated Press
The Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders are now in the midst of a three-way tie for first place in the wild, wild AFC West.
Going into Week 13, the Kansas City Chiefs sat atop the AFC West with a meager record of 6-5. After wins by the Chargers and the Raiders, coupled with a loss by the Chiefs, the playoff race has heated up, as all three teams are now tied for first place in the division.
“Well, we’ve certainly come a long way from 0-and-four. We’ve dug ourselves just back to above ground it was a deep hole,” Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers said. “But it’s exciting to know that it looks like now there’s three teams at six and six in the division with four games to play.”
The Chargers played against the Cleveland Browns following a 28-6 victory against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12. The last time these two teams met was during the 2016-2017 season on December 24, when the Browns defeated the Chargers for their lone win of the season, 20-17.
This season, the Chargers prevailed, defeating Cleveland, 19-10. Wide receiver Kenan Allen finished the game with 10 receptions, 105 receiving yards and a touchdown to lead Los Angeles to victory. Rivers finished with 344 passing yards, with a lone touchdown pass to Allen.
The Raiders came into Week 13 after a win against the Denver Broncos. Oakland defeated the New York Giants, 24-17 to extend their winning streak to two games.
Running back Marshawn Lynch put together his first 100-yard rushing game according to Raiders.com. Lynch finished the game with 101 yards on 17 carries with one touchdown and two receptions.
The Raiders’ defense forced the Giants to three straight three-and-outs at the start of the game and held them to just 265 net yards on offense with two fumbles.
During the post-game press conference, Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders have a purpose in the way they’re playing.
“Just one at a time. Just like we’ve been doing,” Del Rio said. “We’ve been purposeful in our work. We understand the scenario of where we are and what we need to get done. And what we need to get done is one week at a time.”
The Chiefs have slumped during the last six weeks of the season, dropping their six of their last seven games, including an devastating overtime loss to the now 2-10 Giants on Nov. 10, 12-9.
“The thing I was proud about was the way our team battled but we came up short,” Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid said during a post-game press conference.
The Chiefs opened Week 13’s showdown against the New York Jets with a 14 point lead, but New York rallied to take the victory, 31-38.
Smith led the Chiefs with 366 passing yards, no interceptions and four touchdowns. However, the Chiefs defense was not able to contain Jets Quarterback Josh McCown and their offense. Even with the addition of Darelle Revis, who only played for the first half, the defense came up short, providing no sacks and failing to step up in third-down situations. The Chiefs finished with a time of possession of 17 minutes and 11 seconds compared to the Jets 42 minutes and 49 seconds.
“Time of possession got kind of skewed there,” Reid said during a locker room interview. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting off the field when given the opportunity. We had a lot of third-and-long situations that we couldn’t get off the field. Time of possession, that was a factor in today’s game.”
Three of the Chiefs remaining four games will be against their division rivals with a game against the Oakland Raiders in Week 14. These are must-win games for them if they hope to salvage their season and make the playoffs.
The Chargers face the Washington Redskins next week before finishing out the season against the Chiefs, Jets and the Raiders.
The Raiders will face the Chiefs next Sunday before moving onto Cowboys, Eagles and then the Chargers to round out the season.
Each team will be given the chance to pull away and move into first place in the coming weeks.
“It’s exciting to be in the month of December and have a lot on the line,” Rivers said.