AFC West stretch run sets up favorably for first-place Raiders
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The AFC West is still the most tightly knotted division in the conference, with three games separating the first-place Raiders (7-4) and last-place Chargers and Chiefs, both 4-7.
But the stretch run sets up quite nicely for Oakland, which last won the division in 2002.
Only two of the Raiders’ final five opponents have winning records: Green Bay (11-0) and Detroit (7-4), and the Lions are 2-3 over their last five games. Oakland’s game at Lambeau Field on Dec. 11 has been moved to a 1:15 p.m. PST kickoff, which will give the players a chance to hit the snooze button a few more times on game day.
Denver also faces two teams with winning records: Chicago (7-4) and New England (8-3), with both of those games coming at home. The Broncos have won four in a row, and five of six, with Tim Tebow starting at quarterback.
The Chargers, who haven’t won since Oct. 9, finish the season with three consecutive games against winning teams: Baltimore (8-3), then at Detroit and Oakland. San Diego is slogging through its first six-game losing streak since 2001.
And the toughest finish belongs to the Chiefs, whose final five opponents all have winning records. They play at Chicago, at the New York Jets (6-5), Green Bay, Oakland, and at Denver.
-- Sam Farmer