AFC West Update: Broncos Eliminated From Playoffs And Chiefs Set Sights On The Division

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With one week left to go in the 2016 NFL regular season, the playoff picture has just about taken shape, especially in the AFC. While the San Diego Chargers have been eliminated from postseason contention for a while, the Denver Broncos were officially eliminated from the tournament this past Sunday with a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The reigning Super Bowl champs won't be participants in the postseason for the first time since 2010, and will wrap up the regular season against the Oakland Raiders this Sunday. It feels like there isn't a week that goes by when there isn't an injury to a player in the AFC West. Clearly the Chargers have dominated injury headlines all season long, but another big name in the division now finds himself on the Injured Reserve list.

Heading into Week 17, let's get you caught up on the action from around the division.

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Denver Broncos

Wednesday afternoon, Demarcus Ware was placed on the Injured Reserve list with a back injury that will require season-ending surgery. In his three seasons with the Broncos, Ware has tallied 21.5 sacks, and started in 33 games for the Orange Crush.

No. 94 was added to the roster in 2014 to help bolster Denver's pass rush, and was able to secure his first Super Bowl victory with the team. The loss of Ware could be perceived as the end of an already lost season for the Broncos, after the team was eliminated from playoff contention last week.

The team's final game will come this Sunday on New Year's Day at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colo. for a showdown with the Silver and Black. Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak has made it clear that both quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will see action, and will split time against the Raiders defense.

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Kansas City Chiefs

Unlike the Broncos and the Chargers, the Chiefs have a lot on the line in their final week of the season. If the Silver and Black are unable to pull off the victory in Denver, the Chiefs could clinch the AFC West with a win over the Chargers. Whether or not they win this week, they'll be returning to the postseason for the second-consecutive season.

Kansas City is coming off a dominant win against the Broncos and, are the team responsible for putting the dagger in their season. After failing to get past the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs a season ago, the Chiefs are hungry for more under the leadership of Head Coach Andy Reid.

Since joining the team in 2013, Reid has helped the group achieve a record of 42-21, but has failed to win the division in his four-year tenure. In his three playoff appearances with the team, the former Eagles Head Coach has a record of 1-2. While the Chiefs are capable of winning the division if all the stars align, they'll need to focus on winning against the Chargers first. Kickoff will take place at 1:25 p.m. PT at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

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San Diego Chargers

The 2016 season has been a tumultuous one for the Bolts, no doubt about it, but the future is something the organization and fans can get excited about. Not only is rookie defensive end Joey Bosa a freak talent with the potential to be a dominant pass rusher in the league, but the emergence of running back Melvin Gordon and rookie tight end Hunter Henry give the team additional depth to its offense.

For Henry specifically, the University of Arkansas-product can grow and flourish in a system that's no stranger to tight end production. Fourteen-year veteran Antonio Gates is leaning toward returning next season, which benefits Henry considering he can continue learning from a tight end that has certainly left his footprint in the NFL.

The news of Gates' return should be exciting news for fans, but you've got to wonder how much gas he's got left in the tank. His leadership in the team's locker room and his impact on the city of San Diego is undeniable, and for the younger players on the team he can provide a lot of insight. The Chargers had a dark cloud hanging over their head this season due to the surplus of injuries, but the future appears to be bright with shining young talent on the rise.

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