Week 16 saw the Broncos clinch the West, while handing the Texans their 13th straight loss by a score of 37-13. The Chiefs fell to their likely first round playoff foe the Colts 23-7, and the Chargers kept their playoff hopes alive by knocking off the Raiders 26-13 at home.
Denver: Peyton Manning
Any time you set an NFL record for touchdown passes you’re going to find yourself in the good (even if it was throwing deep balls up 30-13 with 3 minutes to play). Manning’s fourth touchdown pass was his 51st of the season, breaking the record that Tom Brady had set in 2007. Manning was stellar on the afternoon, completing 31 passes for 400 yards and the aforementioned 4 touchdown tosses en route to the Denver victory.
Kansas City: Jamaal Charles
The Chiefs running back ran for 106 yards and a touchdown on only 13 carries, and also caught 5 passes out of the backfield for 38 yards in the losing effort. Charles was the lone productive Chief on the offensive side of the ball, and much of the blame for the loss should fall on Offensive Coordinator Doug Pederson for not giving the outstanding back more touches.
Oakland: First Half
For the first 30 minutes of the game the team with nothing to play for went toe to toe with a San Diego club with everything on the line. In the first half the Raiders forced 3 turnovers on the road, held the Chargers offense to 10 points, Darren McFadden ran for a score, and the teams went into halftime all tied up.
San Diego: Ryan Matthews
Matthews carried the ball 25 times for 99 yards and a score on the afternoon, and allowed the Chargers offense to control the tempo in the second half. He was consistent on the ground, and also caught 3 passes for 20 yards out of the backfield. Honorable Mention goes to Nick Novak for the Good this week, as he was a perfect 4 for 4 on field goal attempts for San Diego.
Denver: Third Down Efficiency
This game was closer than it appeared, as the score was 16-13 heading into the fourth quarter. This was due in large part to Denver’s inability to convert on third downs. The Broncos were only 2-11 on the afternoon, which translates to a measly 18% conversion rate. Given their offensive firepower, this is a terrible number against the team that’s destined to get the first overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
Chiefs: Alex Smith
Alex Smith giveth, and Alex Smith taketh away. One week after a sterling performance in Washington, he showed in Mr. Hyde side. Smith threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and didn’t throw a single touchdown pass. The veteran game manager has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but he was subpar against the Colts on Sunday.
Oakland: Second Half
It was a tale of two halves for the Raiders, as in the third and fourth quarters Oakland was thoroughly outplayed. They only managed three points on a Janikowski field goal, and gave up four scoring drives to the San Diego offense. They were also characteristically undisciplined, as they were flagged for 12 penalties in the game, including a costly taunting call in the third quarter.
San Diego: Ball Security
The Chargers were a superior team to the Raiders on Sunday, but they kept the visitors in the game by turning the ball over three times. Rivers forced a pass that was intercepted, they lost a fumble on a mistimed snap, and Keenan Allen lost a fumble after a reception. This game could have been far more one-sided if the Chargers hadn’t been so careless with the ball.
Denver: Losing Von Miller for the season with a torn ACL.
Kansas City: Getting soundly beaten at home by a team they’ll meet in the postseason.
Oakland: Letting a chance to spoil the Chargers season slip away from them.
San Diego: Still needing losses from both Baltimore and Miami to get into the playoffs.