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AFC West player of the week

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

If the Denver Broncos, who are on the verge of winning the AFC West, are going to make any noise in the playoffs, they will need a reliable running game.

They will need what Peyton Hillis gave them Sunday in their upset win at the New York Jets. Hillis ran for 129 yards on 22 carries and he had a touchdown run in Denver's win. For that he is the AFC West player of the week.

His Denver offensive backfield mate, Jay Cutler, was a strong candidate as well. But Hillis gave Denver an element it has been missing and he is an unlikely hero.

Hillis is Denver's fifth tailback used this season because of a rash of injuries. He was a seventh-round pick out of Arkansas. The rookie was the team's fullback and was developing as a nice receiving option out of the backfield. But no one knew Hillis could be the primary tailback.

He is averaging 4.8 yards per carry this season. He is a tough, hard runner who fits Denver's scheme. He has yet to prove he can carry Denver on his back, but he doesn't need to. If Hillis can be a reliable option to take pressure off of Cutler and the passing game, Denver could do some damage down the road and he will have more chances to win another player of the week honor.