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Josh Jacobs #28 of the Oakland Raiders breaks the tackle of Corey Nelson #56 and Bradley Chubb #55 of the Denver Broncos during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at RingCentral Coliseum on September 9, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Around the AFC West: The race for the division tightens

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Broncos are back in action this week. With a 3-6 record, they travel to face the Vikings on Sunday.

The rest of the AFC is wide open behind the Patriots and the Ravens. As odd as it may seem, the Broncos are not out of it when it comes to the postseason because the rest of the conference is down outside of two elite-level teams.

The AFC West never ceases with interesting storylines, and this week is no different. The Broncos may want to make an improbable run, but they need divisional opponents to falter along the way.

Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.


Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs saw the return of superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes last week, but they failed to win against the Titans. With a 6-4 record, Kansas City still sits at the top of the division, but they would not have a first-round bye if the playoffs were to start today. We’ll see if they can make a run before the end of the year to get into the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the AFC.

Perhaps they could do that if they played veteran LeSean McCoy more.

In Week 10 against the Titans, Damien Williams played 72 percent of the offensive snaps while McCoy was a healthy scratch. Even backup Darrel Williams played 21 percent of the snaps against the Titans and rookie fourth-string back Darwin Thompson played a total of five offensive snaps. Damien Williams had a costly second-quarter fumble against the Titans that was returned for a touchdown, but that didn’t stop the team from using him as their primary back last week.

McCoy had a third-quarter fumble back in Week 8 and it seems like he’s been in the doghouse ever since. I asked my sources around the Chiefs and they told me that McCoy was inactive because they want him healthy down the stretch for the playoff run.

That’s understandable, but is it true? Perhaps a little more McCoy should be in order for a team that needs a steady hand at running back.


Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers may be an international team before long. Earlier this month, Vincent Bonsignore from The Athletic reported the Chargers “would listen” if the NFL approached them about relocating to London. The NFL has wanted a team overseas for quite some time, and the Chargers need a real home since they are currently playing in a kickball stadium that only seats around 27,000 fans.

According to Bonsignore, the possibility “has been broached among league personnel” and owners are “concerned enough about the Chargers’ situation in Los Angeles.” They are supposed to get into the new stadium the Rams have built, but it just doesn’t seem like L.A. is embracing the Chargers.

Shortly after that report, Chargers owner Dean Spanos had some choice words about the report. “It’s total (bleep),” Spanos said. “We’re not going to London. We’re not going anywhere. We’re playing in Los Angeles. This is our home, and this is where we are planning to be for a long (expletive) time. Period.”

Alrighty then. So, it looks like they’re not going to London anytime soon (if you believe Spanos), but the team is taking an international stage on “Monday Night Football” as they play the Chiefs in Week 11 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.


Oakland Raiders

We might see a battle for the top spot in the AFC West if the Raiders keep winning. They won last week over the Chargers on Thursday night and are only one game behind the Chiefs with their 5-4 record. The Raiders are in contention for a wild card spot at least and might keep pushing for more.

The Raiders have a winning formula that starts with their rushing attack. Rookie running back Josh Jacobs has played up to his potential so far in 2019. The first-round pick from Alabama is currently No. 7 in the league with 811 yards rushing. He’s averaging a very healthy 4.83 yards per carry and is clearly the centerpiece of what Oakland does offensively.

It’s a “gimme” game for the Raiders in Week 11 as they face off against the hapless (and winless) Bengals at home. The crowds in Oakland are savoring the flavor as this is the final year that they’ll be in the Bay Area. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in 2020, so they’re trying to give their original fans in Oakland something to remember them by.