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<p>The Raiders have one of the NFL's best pass protecting offensive lines. (In a cruel bit of bad luck, Carr was injured on the only QB hit Oakland gave up all Sunday.) They have one of the best starting wide receiver duos in football. They have an emerging running game and an offense that gets receivers wide open, often taking short passes a long way.</p>

<p>And on Saturday the Oakland Raiders, who will face the Broncos in the regular-season finale in Denver, went through the shock of seeing their MVP candidate, quarterback Derek Carr, suffer a broken leg. For a brief moment, it added up to a quality what-if conversation.</p>

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<p>But Sunday night, the Broncos' problems just outnumbered the chances they had been given.</p>

<p>"My thought is this: I told the players, 2016 is obviously a big disappointment," Kubiak said. "...I told them on the plane ride home, get it all out of their system, next week is all about next year."</p>

<p>Patriots still have plenty on the line</p>

<p>Joined ESPN in 2013Follow on TwitterFacebookTwitterFacebook MessengerPinterestEmailprintcommentKANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs have gone through most of the season with a maddeningly inconsistent offense and a defense that allows plenty of yards. Linebacker Justin Houston didn't play in an important game Sunday night against the Denver Broncos, raising questions about the availability of arguably the Chiefs' best defensive player going forward.</p>

<p>Early in the season Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders went public with the desire to have more passes thrown their way, and late in the year defensive players let the world know they weren't the problem. Perhaps it's natural, the way things go in the wake of a title and the departure of a player with the résumé and personality of Peyton Manning.</p>

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<p>This memorable Christmas weekend of games settled the AFC playoff field faster than anyone could have expected in a season full of tight games and a fat middle class of teams.</p>

<p>Even with those flaws, and perhaps others, the Chiefs (11-4) will be playing in the postseason. They clinched a playoff spot earlier Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and then kept their AFC West title hopes alive by beating the Broncos 33-10 at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night.</p>

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<p>Derek Carr's broken fibula was a devastating moment for an entire franchise and fanbase that waited 14 years for a season like this. They rightfully had Super Bowl champion dreams with Carr. With fourth-year pro Matt McGloin now behind center, any playoff win will feel like overachieving. Yet it's worth noting McGloin joins a situation that could hardly be better.</p>

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<p>A Broncos victory next week will leave the door open for the 11-4 Chiefs to take the division title with a win against the collapsing Chargers. The two games will be played at the same time for maximum scoreboard watching enjoyment.</p>

<p>Winning the AFC West title this year comes with a nice prize: a first-round playoff bye. Either the Chiefs or the Raiders will be the AFC's No. 2 seed.</p>

<p>A lot will be written about the inexperience at quarterback in these AFC playoffs. It's true that the mind's eye doesn't easily picture Matt McGloin, Matt Moore or Tom Savage having a podium at Super Bowl press conference. Of those three, McGloin has the best supporting cast and the best path to have a few breaks go his way if the Raiders can earn a bye.</p>

<p>And on Saturday the Oakland Raiders, who will face the Broncos in the regular-season finale in Denver, went through the shock of seeing their MVP candidate, quarterback Derek Carr, suffer a broken leg. For a brief moment, it added up to a quality what-if conversation.</p>

<p>Even the biggest McGloin optimist (ahem) knows that the Raiders will have to play complementary football at a higher level than it was with Carr. The defense will need to go from &quot;improved&quot; to &quot;weaponized.&quot; The running game will take a greater share of the load. Michael Crabtree needs to cut out those drive-killing drops. McGloin is not a &quot;play it safe&quot; type of backup. He will get his money's worth with aggressive throws, like he did on two third-and-long conversions late against the Colts. That approach can work when surrounded by immense talent.</p>

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