It was a wild week in the AFC West, as the Kansas City Chiefs earned their place at the top of the division, things got chippy in Tennessee with a dirty hit on a Denver Broncos player, and the San Diego Chargers suffer another injury to a key player.
It's that time of year when tensions begin to rise in the midst of a playoff race, and teams are gunning for a spot in the postseason tournament.
Through 14 weeks this season, the AFC West has established itself as arguably the most competitive and challenging division in the league. Let's take a look back at the weekend, and break down some events that took place around the division.
Sunday afternoon, the Broncos faced off against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville that resulted in a heated encounter. In the second quarter of the game with the Broncos trailing 10-0, Titans wide receiver Harry Douglas attempted to make a block on safety Chris Harris, Jr., by deliberately diving at Harris' knees.
Legal or illegal, the block sparked a physical exchange from both sidelines, and has caused talk shows and NFL analysts to debate the controversial play. As far as Harris' health, he returned to action a play later, but emphasized post-game that it could've been a career ending hit.
The Broncos defense was locked in after the play happened and upped its intensity level, but were unable to secure the victory. After falling to the Titans 13-10, Denver now sits at third place in the AFC West, and trails the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs by two games.
The Broncos will have an opportunity to get back on track next Sunday when they host the New England Patriots at Sports Authority Field, kickoff will take place at 1:25 p.m. PT.
Kansas City Chiefs
Last Thursday, the Chiefs pulled off the regular season sweep against the Silver and Black for the second season in a row. The Chiefs' victory put them ahead in the division – even though they own the same record of 10-3 – and Andy Reid's group now own the second seed in the playoff picture.
The opportunities were there for the Raiders during the Thursday night showdown, but the team couldn't capitalize. Part of what makes the Chiefs such a dynamic group has been the contribution from all three phases of the team. The offense has done a stellar job of limiting turnovers ( 11) for the third-best in the league, while the defense has been able to force turnovers (14 interceptions and 8 fumbles). The Chiefs also have a standout talent on their special teams unit in wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who boasts blazing speed and big play capability. Hill showed off his jets most recently on Thursday Night Football with a 78-yard punt return to the house against the Silver and Black.
There's no denying that the Chiefs are a force to be reckoned with, they'll take the field in Week 15 against the Titans at Arrowhead Stadium.
San Diego Chargers
The amount of players the Chargers have lost to injury this season is truly incomprehensible, and simply put it's unfortunate. Sunday was yet another game that a key component in the Bolts scheme was carted off the field, this time stud ball carrier Melvin Gordon. The second-year running back has been producing at a high level all year long and is in the middle of a breakout campaign.
A season ago, the Chargers first round pick (No. 15) failed to make it in the end zone once, but that certainly has not been the case this season. With three games left to play, Gordon has 10 rushing touchdowns, and accumulated 997 yards on the ground.
Sunday afternoon against the Carolina Panthers, the Wisconsin-product was carted off the field with what would be diagnosed as a hip injury. According to Chargers.com, the team has yet to release any information about the timetable of his injury.
For the time being, the team will have to carry on without the assistance of one of its most explosive players. In Week 15 the Chargers will host the Oakland Raiders for their second matchup of the season; kickoff will take place at Qualcomm stadium at 1:25 p.m. PT.