There’s a graceful way to lose, and then there’s a graceful way to win. President Bush showed more grace than teams in the AFC West on Sunday when he ducked away from hurling Iraqi shoes. The Chargers were the only team to win, but even they were down 21-3 in the third quarter. It was the Chiefs who gave up that big lead, and proved that playing “to win the game” is as appealing a motto as “one man’s throw up is another man’s chicken soup.” The Panthers were able to take their brooms out of the closet as they made a complete sweep of the AFC West after beating the Broncos while the Raiders defense provided a mirage of Tom Brady behind center for Patriots fans. If grace is a little prayer you say before a meal, then I think the AFC West is starving for some food.
Denver Broncos (8-6):
Looking Back: The Broncos tried a 4-4 defensive scheme to hold off Slash and Dash, but they forgot about Steve Smith (165 yards, 1 TD) down the field. It’s as simple as that. The Broncos want to keep fans on the edge of their seats until the end of the season apparently. They could have clinched a playoff spot with a win, but they appear to be waiting for the Chargers to lose a game. That or maybe Jay Cutler wants to wait until the last game of the season when the two teams meet in San Diego to rub a playoff berth into Philip Rivers’ face. The Broncos simply had an unlatched cage for the Panthers running attack as the beasts were released in the second half to finish the game 30-10. Meanwhile, Jay Cutler could not keep the offense on the right track as the receivers were not able to get open, and the running game could not provide any big runs.
Looking Forward: The struggling Bills roll into the Mile High City next week to try to halt their downward spiraling season. They’ve gone 2-8 since their 4-0 start, and most recently lost to the Jets in a dramatic fashion. Sounds like something out of the Broncos story book, doesn’t it? Once again, the Broncos will try to secure their spot in the playoffs with a win. Losman is capable of throwing a lot of interceptions, so this could be a confidence builder for the Broncos secondary. The Bills defense leaves something to be desired, but it’s still leaps and bounds better than the Broncos defense. With the end rapidly approaching, one can only wonder what will become of this up and down season.
Looking Back: It happened again. The Chiefs lost in the fourth quarter and you can blame Coach Harm Herm Edwards once again. The Broncos were on their way to clinching the AFC West when all of a sudden a lightning Bolt struck Arrowhead. Boom! The Chiefs threw away their lead by letting the Chargers score 2 TDs with 1:13 left. It’s funny that Edwards was criticizing receiver Dwayne Bowe for dropping the onsides kick. “I think sometimes he takes his eye off the ball…Those are plays you have to make along the way,” said Edwards. Yeah, Bowe’s drop is why you lost the game, coach! Connor Barth missed a field goal, and the rest of the team stunk up the field in the second half. Tyler Thigpen proved that he’s a good addition to the running game with 10 carries for 40 yards and 1 TD.
Looking Forward: The only thing the Chiefs have to look forward to is next year as they continue to rebuild their organization. They will fly south to Miami (9-5) to consult play Bill Parcell’s successfully rebuilt organization. Miami is right in the thick of things with two weeks remaining, and they will give everything they have to put a beating on the already down and out Chiefs. Joey Porter will look to cordially welcome Thigpen into the league, and the rest of the 8th ranked defense will give Herm a headache. Chad Pennington and Edwards will reunite. The only difference between the former Jets’ QB and former Jets’ coach is a win or two, or seven.
Looking Back: I think somebody forgot to send the Raiders the memo: Tom Brady is on the IR. It didn’t matter. The Raiders played defense as well as Keanu Reeves played a quarterback in The Replacements. The Pats racked up 49 points, almost 500 yards of total offense, and Matt Cassel threw four TDs. To give the Raiders some credit, they did score 26 points, and JaMarcus Russell threw for 242 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT. Randy Moss pointed to his name on his jersey multiple times per game as if to remind Al Davis what he lost. The Raiders have now lost at least 11 games in 6 straight seasons. I can guarantee both Moss and LaMont Jordan are happy campers in New England now.
Looking Forward: The Texans (7-7) make the trip to the black and very grey hole next week. The game means absolutely nothing except better draft positions, and Tom Cable’s final appearance in Oakland as head coach. Fans should wear protective masks to the game because both teams are going to stink the place up. Offensively, the Raiders are a hair better than the Bengals and Lions. Defensively, they are on the same playing field as the Texans. If you’re the kind of person that likes to watch train wrecks or car accidents, then tune in for this disaster on Sunday. It should be full of sloppy plays, turnovers, and blame.
Looking Back: They’re breathing, but just barely. They are on a ventilator, and fans are clinging on to hope. Philip Rivers led the Chargers to a win against the Chiefs with 346 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT. The Chargers had problems with turnovers (3), and they allowed the defenseless Chiefs 3 sacks. The Chargers running attack has obviously diminished this year as they had just 68 yards on the ground. But a win is a win. And a punch is a punch. Or is it? The Chargers are capable of racking up points in a hurry, but that won’t work against well rounded teams. They were lucky to pull out the win last week.
Looking Forward: The Chargers face Tampa Bay (9-5) next week, and if they win that game, and the Broncos lose to the Bills, then they’ve got a shot at the playoffs with the deciding game in San Diego. Who would have thought that the Chargers could have come out of this dreadful season smelling like a rose? The Bucs are undefeated at home while the Chargers are 2-5 on the road. Give up 3 turnovers to the Bucs, and they’ll make you pay. The Bucs are 5th in total defense and 3rd in pass defense. Norv Turner had better use his running game because the Chargers have a better chance at succeeding in that area than in the air.