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NFL 2011 Week 12 AFC West Preview: Three Games On Tap, All Teams Face Tough Tests

This week, the Raiders look to overcome a Bears team minus their star quarterback to increase their lead in the division. The Broncos and Chargers play each other and the suddenly pitiful Chiefs must face a top-tier AFC team in the Steelers. Here's a short breakdown of each game.

Bears @ Raiders: The Bears are of course without a key cog in their offense in Jay Cutler. The Raiders are without key cogs at just about every level, as their injury list is a mile long. They are down several receivers and will still be without Darren McFadden. Luckily for the Raiders, WR and RB are the positions at which they have the most depth. We saw earlier in the year what happens to the Bears when they face a vicious pass rush (the Lions game) and I expect the Raiders to bring pressure against an inexperienced quarterback in Caleb Hanie. The real questions are whether Matt Forte can get going and how well Carson Palmer can do without several key receivers. I predict Raiders by six.

Broncos @ Chargers: Five weeks ago, the Broncos looked like the season was lost and the Chargers looked to be cruising toward a division title. This Sunday, the Broncos are the ones pushing for a playoff spot while the Chargers are trying to pick up the pieces and figure out how everything went so terribly wrong. The last time these teams played was the last time Kyle Orton saw the field. Orton was benched for his awful play and Tim Tebow took over, nearly leading the Broncos to a dramatic comeback win. Tebow has since led the Broncos to three actual dramatic comeback wins.

This one should look more like the last Broncos-Chiefs game. The Chargers' defensive line is mediocre and they didn't have an answer for Oakland's run game. I doubt they will have the ability to stop Denver's. I think this will be the game in which Tim Tebow shows some progress as a passer. The Chargers are just too poorly coached and inconsistent to stop Tim Tebow for an entire game, especially when they barely held him off from a massive deficit the last time they faced him. Broncos by nine.

Steelers @ Chiefs: Last Monday night we witnessed what happens when Tyler Palko goes up against a really good team: bad things. There's no reason not to expect more of the same. This one will be over by the second quarter. Perhaps Kyle Orton can save the Chiefs season, but not this week. Steelers by twenty-four.