The Oakland Raiders have regained sole possession of the AFC West after their 27-20 win over the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. The victory in Mexico City improved the team's record to 8-2, and they now lead the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos by a full game. This week, the Chiefs and the Broncos will square off for a Sunday Night Football showdown at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colo. Heading into Week 12, let's take a look at the AFC West and get you up to speed.
Denver is coming off of its bye week, and currently trails the Raiders by a game in the AFC West. The Broncos have battled some injuries throughout the 2016 season, but have remained productive regardless of some missing pieces. Most recently, the team suffered a loss to cornerback Aqib Talib who was suffering from a back injury, but according to DenverBroncos.com, he should be returning to action Sunday. Talib participated in practice Monday, and told reporters he felt "great" after a full day back. In his three seasons with Denver, the nine-year veteran has appeared in the Pro Bowl twice, totaling 10 interceptions with the Broncos, and scoring five touchdowns. It's no secret that Talib's presence on the field demands a lot of attention, and his return to the gridiron will certainly benefit the Broncos defense. Alongside Talib, defensive end Derek Wolfe will also be returning to the lineup after dealing with an elbow ailment suffered against the Silver and Black. The Broncos defensive unit is back at full strength, and will have the opportunity to show its dominance on Sunday night against the Chiefs; you can watch the game on NBC at 5:30 p.m. PT.
Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston returned to the field last Sunday when the team hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arrowhead Stadium, and finished the day with two tackles, plus a tackle for loss. The 19-17 loss to the Bucs was Houston's first game of the 2016 campaign, as he's spent the majority of the season recovering from a knee injury suffered in 2015. When healthy, the sixth-year pro has been huge part of the Chiefs game plan, and can pose a threat to opposing teams.
Two seasons ago, Houston was the NFL's leading sacker with a total of 22.0, and finished the season with a career-high 59 tackles. The team currently ranks 25th in the league in defense, allowing 373.3 total yards per game, and ranks 27th rushing yards allowed (121.1). The team has missed having Houston on the field, but in his absence, third-year linebacker Dee Ford has stepped up and is tied for the most sacks in the league with 10.0.
Houston will take the field for the second time this season when the Chiefs travel to Denver to take on the Broncos.
San Diego Chargers
The Bolts have officially added former Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman to the roster, and with the move, he is returning to familiar territory. The former San Diego State University Aztec officially participated in his first Chargers practice Wednesday, and is already reacquainting himself with Southern California. Hillman offers the Chargers a solid skillset that allows him to be explosive out of the backfield whether it's rushing or receiving. His versatility will add another dimension to the Chargers offensive game plan, especially since they lost their primary receiving back Danny Woodhead to an ACL injury earlier this season.
Although they're two games under .500, the Chargers can't be taken lightly by any means. The team is currently 4-6, but don't let the record fool you, this team is capable of beating anyone on any given day. With Hillman, quarterback Philip Rivers gains another weapon in passing game, although hehas already been successful this season with 2,886 passing yards (fourth-best in the league) and 20 touchdowns (tied for fifth in the NFL). The Chargers had an opportunity to recuperate this week after a bye week, and will get back to work this Sunday when they take on the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium at 10:00 a.m. PT.