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Power Play: Chiefs, Chargers Face Off In Battle For AFC Supremacy

Trick and treat. The Miami Dolphins pulled the trick. And as a result, the Kansas City Chiefs get a treat from Tiebreaker.com in this week’s AFC power rankings.

AFC West preview

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Kansas City Chiefs

Not since Kurt Warner took the baton in St. Louis has an NFL quarterback orchestrated with such flair. Pat Mahomes is still a kid. He has so much to grow. This is what seems most exciting. Did you see him on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens? Trailing by seven with 1:29 to play, he escaped the rush by scrambling one way out of the pocket, then contorted like Gumby to fire, across his body, a 48-yard strike to Tyreek Hill on a fourth-and-9. You know the rest. The Chiefs won in overtime and Mahomes ended with 377 yards passing.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are taking deep breaths after their close call against the Cincinnati Bengals. After scoring touchdowns on their first two drives, they settled for four field goals the rest of the way. Imagine if they had lost, blowing their chance to tie the Chiefs for the AFC West lead on Thursday night. The Chargers have won 10 games for the first time since 2009. Winning No. 11 would really be momentous.

Tom Brady

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New England Patriots

Here’s how it usually works: The Patriots are the ones who do great things at the end of games to win, like kick 45-yard field goals in snowstorms in the dead of night to tie playoff games. They are never the victims of hocus pocus. Ah, but live long enough and its bound to happen. So the Miami Dolphins had their moment. Blah, blah, blah. Tom Brady threw for 358 yards and three TDs and it won’t be long before they clinch a 10th straight AFC East. We think.

Houston Texans

After winning nine games straight, a league record after an 0-3 start, you figured it would just be a matter of time before the Texans faced their Alamo. Playing the part of Jim Bowie and Davey Crockett against the Indianapolis Colts were Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue, Houston’s talented pair of halfbacks. Its offense gained only 89 yards on the ground. No matter. The Texans still have a two-game lead in the AFC South and you can bet they will remember the….

Baltimore Ravens

Its fair to say there hasn’t been a QB quite like Lamar Jackson in the league since Michael Vick, a guy who kept defenses constantly back peddling just to keep up with him. Jackson has provided Baltimore (7-6) with spunk in his four games as starter. He has also introduced a new way to move ball, like the eight-play, 75-yard TD drive against the Chiefs that took place totally on the run. He now leads the team in rushing yardage (475) and it doesn’t look like his ankle injury will slow him down.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have lost three straight and no one’s denying there is a strong sense of ignominy about going into Oakland and further stinking up what’s already a smelly, old stadium. How could the Steelers lose 24-21 to the Raiders? Why did it have to come down to another missed field goal by Chris Boswell. What are they going to do if Ben Roethlisberger’s ribs are badly injured? Worse yet, Rocky Bleier is upset with the team and Mike Tomlin. Now the alumni is getting involved. Never a good sign.

Indianapolis Colts

After getting shut out by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Colts had a choice. Hold or fold. Sink or swim. Stop or go. They chose to end the Texans winning streak. If it wasn’t for Mahomes, all the chatter would probably be about Andrew Luck. What a season he is having! He threw for 223 – in the second quarter. He found T.Y. Hilton nine times for 199 yards. Without tight end Jack Doyle or center Ryan Kelley, he led the Colts to their sixth win in seven against the league’s hottest team.

Miami Dolphins

Until there were seven seconds to play in Sunday’s game against the Patriots, the Dolphins season was an early bird special, something that’s extremely popular in Florida. And then it happened, a piece of special team skullduggery that has already earned a name – The Finstastic Finish. Will it be enough to propel the Fish to the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs over the Colts, Ravens and Tennessee Titans? Maybe yes, maybe no. But damn, was that fun to watch. …and watch. …and watch.

Tennessee Titans

We are still wondering whether Derrick Henry has always been the next Jim Brown or if his performance last Thursday against Jacksonville was simply the result of running into – and pushing back with a few straight arms – a defense that couldn’t tackle a crab. He carried 17 times, gained 238 yards and scored four TDs, including a 99-yard exhibition of sheer force that tied Tony Dorsett’s league record. And Tennessee’s defense sacked Cody Kessler four times.

Cleveland Browns

Boy oh boy oh Baker, are we excited about the Browns. They have won three of their last four and within the span of just 13 weeks, powered by the carbonated personality of their rookie QB, Mr. Mayfield , have flip-flopped the fortunes of one of professional sports greatest embarrassments. Mayfield doesn’t just think he can win, he knows he can win. Hey Cleveland, he’s not LeBron, well, who knows, maybe he is.

Denver Broncos

They lost to San Francisco 49ers. Excuse me! After beating the Chargers and the Steelers, after resurrecting their season and re-firing the engines for a late postseason push, the defense allows tight end George Kittle to go Gronk on it in the first half (seven catches, 210 yards) and falls behind 20-0. And just think, coach Vance Joseph was about to take his house off the market. But don’t worry, Broncos fans. Case Keenum will save the season.

Cincinnati Bengals

So let’s get this straight: The Bengals have lost five straight. They have lost Andy Dalton and A.J. Green for the season. And it finally looks as if Marvin Lewis has reached the end of his road after 16 seasons just seven postseason games and NO PLAYOFF VICTORIES. We’d say its about time, but we’ve said that since they went 6-9-1 in 2016 and no one listened. But now we are hearing they might replace Lewis with Hue Jackson. This ultimately would be worse for this city than Pete Rose putting $10,000 on the Reds to win.

New York Jets

We have a question: Is Sam Darnold a consolation prize or the next great QB in New York City? Look at the season Saquon Barkley is having for the New York Giants. His name is being mentioned in the same sentence with Eric Dickerson. Do you think Big Blue is blue about not taking Darnold and leaving him for the Jets? The point is, we’re not close to knowing how great Darnold can be and we won’t until the Jets hire a head coach that can design an offense capable of showcasing his obvious talent.

Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen is not Lamar Jackson. The Bills did not draft Allen anticipating he would someday become the first QB in the league to have back-to-back 100-yard rushing games since 1951. Allen is big, strapping, strong-armed. He went to Wyoming, for goodness sakes. If it was allowed, he’d probably walk into the huddle smoking a Marlboro. If this keeps up, Allen may be walking with a limp, sort of like John Wayne did in True Grit. And if that happens, they might have to play Nathan Peterman again.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Awful. Dreadful. Appalling. Frightful. Terrible. Unpleasant. Horrible. Disgusting. Distasteful. Repugnant. Objectionable. Intolerable. Obnoxious. Loathsome. Insufferable. Excruciating. Unendurable. Insupportable. Unendurable. Unspeakable.

Oakland Raiders

When Jon Gruden looks at what Amani Cooper has meant to the Dallas Cowboys, do you think he blamed general manager Reggie McKenzie for trading him for a first-round draft pick? Do you think Gruden’s upset about Khalil Mack’s impact on the defense of the Chicago Bears? It’s hard to think otherwise after McKenzie was fired following Oakland’s best win of the season against the Steelers. But here’s the thing: It was Gruden who wanted those guys out of town. It’s another case of killing the messenger.

 

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