The situation in the AFC West is like a floater inside a neighborhood swimming pool. Eventually, a horrible stinky turd team is going to surface at the top and clinch a playoff spot only to be thrown back into the toilet bowel that is the AFC West. The only team that didn’t lose in week 9 was the Chargers, and that’s only because they didn’t play. As the Raiders came up with a goose egg, the Chiefs were throwing their game back to the Bucs harder than Mariano Rivera can hurl a jawbreaker. Meanwhile, the Broncos lost their third in a row and made fans wish for ski season to begin so that they have something else to do on Sundays. So, how did the three active AFC West teams lose in week 9 of the season? Let me count the ways. One team rushed for a total of 14 yards, one team blew a 24-3 second quarter lead, and one team threw for 10 yards total and managed 3 first downs. Yes, so if you are still wondering why the Broncos, Chiefs, and Raiders lost, allow me to break it down some more:
Denver Broncos (4-4):
Looking Back: A couple of rookies kept the Broncos in the game against Miami. Peyton Hillis had 7 catches for 116 yards and a TD while Eddie Royal had 7 catches for 69 yards, 1 TD, and a 95 yard kick return in the first half. As for the stars of the show, well, they ran off stage. Cutler had 3 interceptions, and coverage was so tight on Brandon Marshall that he caught just 2 passes for 27 yards. The rushing attack didn’t even make it to center stage. It hung backstage eating popcorn, cotton candy, and playing with the monkeys. The defense did it’s job as they held the Dolphins to 13 points through three quarters. There’s only so much a defense can do when the offense can’t score and the squad is without Champ Bailey. Bailey’s replacement, Karl Paymah, did have an interception, but he also allowed Greg Camarillo to catch 11 passes for 111 yards. If the combination of big paychecks, embarrassment on Monday night football, and a bye week could not get this team ready, then I don’t know what will. Maybe once the Presidential race is over, the Broncos will be able to focus? Maybe once they get use to the time change, they’ll get their running legs? Yeah, that’s it.
Looking Forward: The Broncos have a short week to prepare for the game against the Browns (3-5). You thought with 14 yards on the ground yesterday, things couldn’t get worse, right? Wrong! Hopefully Selvin Young will be ready to play because Michael Pittman (neck) and Andre Hall (hand) are out for the season. That leaves the team with rookie Ryan Torain. Jay Cutler will undoubtedly have more pressure on him as the passing game will be option #1, and the running game will be put on the back burner set on low. The Browns are coming off a loss to the Ravens and probably look forward to playing a physically/emotionally ailing team that looks like the rotting pumpkin that’s now sitting near your garbage can. As to which Broncos team shows up, I really don’t know. Will it be the one that makes Brady Quinn look like Tom Brady or will it be the one that can finish a game without any turnovers. Your guess is as good as mine.
Looking Back: Life Lesson # 3,452 for Herm Edwards and the Chiefs: If you give an inch, the other team is going to take a yard, or maybe even 9. That’s how Tampa Bay did it yesterday on a big 9 yard gain in overtime to give Matt Bryant another chance to make the game winning field-goal. The Chiefs were penalized on the first attempt (failed), so the Bucs picked up some more yardage to get Bryant closer. It turns out that the Chiefs were on their way to losing for a seventh time this season way before the game went into overtime. Although the defense forced 4 turnovers, they allowed Jeff Garcia to throw for 339 yards and they allowed a 97 yard kickoff return. Before that, then I guess you could point the arrows in the direction of a Chiefs win. Kansas City fans forgot about Brodie Croyle and Larry Johnson as they saw Tyler Thigpen (164 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs) and Jamaal Charles (18 carries, 106 yards) play fairly well. Charles did, however, fumble on the Chiefs’ 3- yard line, but hey, at least he didn’t spit in anyone’s face. Like I’ve said in the past: Herm Edwards doesn’t play to win the game. He plays to avoid embarrassment. I don’t know what’s more embarrassing though. Giving up a win like yesterday or the big doughnut that went down in history against the Panthers.
Looking Forward: The Chiefs always like to look forward. In fact, I’m sure they’re looking so far forward that they can hear the popcorn popping already at April’s draft. Anyway, the Chiefs are at San Diego next week. Great, at least one team is guaranteed a win in the division in week 10. The Chiefs do have a lot of confidence going into next week, or at least as much as a 1-7 team can have. With Thigpen, Charles, Mark Bradley and Dwayne Bowe, they may be using the Wildcat formation more often against the Chargers. Why not? They had some success with it in the first half of last week’s loss. With Herm Edwards feeling the pressure to win, I believe he’ll pull out all the stops in order to get a win in San Diego. He’s got to for the sake of his career.
Looking Back: Lane Kiffin was probably sitting back on his sofa watching the game with a grin from ear to ear. Not because he likes to see Tom Cable and the Raiders stumble their way into 77 total net yards, 0 points, and 15 total minutes with the ball, but because of how Al Davis must have felt inside. Imagine a bomb going off in your stomach and the only exit holes for your innards to ooze from are your eyes and ears. That’s how I would’ve felt if I owned the Raiders, and I’m sure old man Davis felt the same way. As JaMarcus Russell was hating life (31 yards, 2 turnovers), Javon Walker brought absolutely nothing to the table with 1 catch for 7 yards. At least he has the money to flee to a far away island, build a nice home, and remain isolated for the rest of his life. If you would have told me last year that the Falcons would shut out another team in 08′, I would’ve called you a big fat liar. The Raiders defense wanted the spotlight yesterday as they allowed the Falcons’ offense to keep the ball for 45 minutes. It should be interesting to see if this team, which is full of talent, can recover from a loss of this magnitude.
Looking Forward: The Carolina Panthers (6-2) will get the chance to see the dark clouds hovering around McAfee Coliseum in week 10. Those clouds may get even darker while they’re playing the Raiders since they are ranked 3rd in defense and have Julius Peppers to make JaMarcus Russell’s life a living hell. If Darren McFadden (toe) returns to the line up, that will take a little pressure off of Russell, but the Raiders will need more than McFadden to pull out the win. Since Cable has taken over, the Raiders have been outscored 87-13 in their three losses. On Sunday, the Raiders will need to use their offensive talent to get points on the board against a very tough Panthers’ defense and hope that the Panthers’ offense has an off day.
Looking Back: After a loss to Buffalo and New Orleans (in London), they needed a bye more than most teams in the league. They were on the road for 11 days and needed to get their bodies adjusted to the time difference. They returned to the U.S. dejected and ready to make some changes. They gave defensive coordinator, Ted Cottrell, the boot. The pass defense is ranked 32nd and the overall defense stands at 23rd.
Looking Forward: The Chargers should have no problem getting a win at home against the Chiefs. What a blessing it is for the new defensive coordinator to have his debut against a team as miserable as the Chiefs. However, I don’t want to say that this is a guaranteed win. Like most teams in the league this year, you never know which Chargers team will show up. The Chargers play the next 4 of 5 at home. With players like Antonio Gates and LaDanian Tomlinson getting some R&R, the Chargers’ offense should continue the hot streak it started in London. Fish and chips won’t be weighing this team down as they look to move on into the second half of the season and beat the Broncos to the top of the division. Should the Chargers not win the division, I foresee Norv Turner’s head on the chopping block.