Some underdogs could spring upsets in AFC

Brandon Marshall and the Broncos will attempt to avoid the same late-season disappointment from last year. (Michael Perez / Associated Press)

Let’s take a look at some key games in the AFC this weekend:

Chiefs at Broncos: It’s a game the Broncos should easily win at home. After beginning the season with a 6-0 record, a home loss in their regular-season finale could set off a negative chain of events, which could be hard to shake.

Veterans such as Brian Dawkins, Champ Bailey and Brandon Marshall will most likely help the Broncos finish with a winning record of 9-7. The Chiefs will pull out all the stops in their effort to begin building positive momentum, which they hope carries over into the offseason. Chiefs coach Todd Haley and QB Matt Cassel are good enough to provide dark clouds of disappointment to Invesco Field at Mile High.

Ravens at Raiders: The Ravens win, and they are in the playoffs — simple as that. There will be no surprises because the Ravens know just how dangerous the Raiders can be on any given Sunday. The Raiders’ upset wins over Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh should be proof positive that the Raiders are capable of ending Baltimore’s season. QB Charlie Frye is coming off a mixed performance last week in Cleveland where he had 300 passing yards, but disappointed with three interceptions. In last year’s season finale, the Raiders knocked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the playoffs, and would like to play the same spoiler role for the visiting Ravens.

Colts at Bills: With a greater priority placed on staying healthy, look for the Colts to start Peyton Manning and many other regulars, but don’t expect them to remain in the game for long. The Colts have made it clear that getting their players healthy and ready for the postseason is their No. 1 goal. With rookie QB Curtis Painter as their best option to replace Manning at quarterback, don’t expect much production from the Colts’ offense.

It remains to be seen if Bills players have already packed up the U-Hauls and made ready to head south for the offseason. If the Bills decide to show up and play, this game will be theirs for the taking.

Bengals at Jets: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has clearly stated that he had learned a thing or two from watching the New York Giants play all of their starters in their 2007 season finale with nothing on the line against the undefeated New England Patriots. Lewis wants to keep his team sharp and ready to roll as they head to New York to face the Jets. But while facing Rex Ryan’s pressure defense, Lewis maybe forced to take QB Carson Palmer off the field sooner rather than later if the Jets begin to dish out physical punishment.

To protect their own rookie QB Mark Sanchez, the Jets will want to run Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene at the Bengals’ highly ranked run defense. The Bengals defense has played well despite having lost several defensive players to injury. The Jets have too much riding on this game to let it slip away in front of the home crowd. For the Jets it’s simple: You win, and you are in the postseason tournament.

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