Week 2 was a week of confusion in the NFL. No one would have thought that the Titans would be 0-2, no one considered the Jets to be good enough to beat the Patriots, and not a soul expected the Redskins to just barley squeeze by the Rams in D.C. The AFC West was not an exception to the confusion. How did the Raiders beat the Chiefs when they only had 166 total net yards while the Chiefs had 409? I didn’t know the Ravens had enough of an offense to beat the Chargers in San Diego. How did the Broncos, who were one of the worst defenses in the NFL, hold the Browns to just 6 points and create 3 turnovers? Like I said last week, the race for first place in this division is going to be closer than people realize.
Denver Broncos (2-0):
Looking Back: The three “D’s” that make up the Broncos defense are Dumervil, Dawkins, and Davis. Elvis Dumervil had 4 sacks in one half and a forced fumble to make the Dawg pound put their tails between their legs. Former Brown, Andra Davis led the team in tackles, and Brian Dawkins recovered a fumble and energized this defense with big hits. Honestly, I look forward to seeing the defense out on the field more than I look forward to seeing the offense at this point. Things finally started to click for the offense in the 2nd half when Correll Buckhalter (9 carries, 76 yds., 1 TD) and Knowshon Moreno (17 carries, 75 yards) got the running game going. I do have to credit Kyle Orton for not turning the ball over and hitting his receivers for some big gains. The Broncos finished the game with 449 total net yards while holding the Browns to 200. Game, set, match.
Looking Forward: The Broncos take on the Raiders in the Black Hole next Sunday. The Raiders are a team that is teetering on the edge of potential greatness. In week 1, they almost took out the Chargers, and last week, they beat the Chiefs when the odds were against them. I’ve always said that they’ve got a ton of individual talent. This will be a good test for the Broncos to go into a hostile environment and attempt to win their 3rd consecutive game. This team has momentum behind them, but they won’t have that fantastic Denver crowd getting the defense fired up. The Broncos will need to continue to focus on getting to the quarterback because while JaMarcus Russell is a big, athletic, and talented QB but, he still hasn’t found any consistency or rhythm. As long as the defense plays as well as it has been, the offense should pick it up and beat the Raiders with a fair amount of ease.
Looking Back: On paper, the Chiefs looked like they should have beaten the Raiders in week 2. I mean 409 yds. to 166 yds. in total offense! That’s what happens when mistakes are made, however. The Chiefs threw 2 INTs, fumbled the ball, and had 9 penalties for 70 yards lost. Matt Cassel greeted Arrowhead with 241 yards on 24 for 39 passing, and 1 TD. Those 2 interceptions he threw killed the victory though. Larry Johnson rushed for 78 yards on 24 carries, and Dwayne Bowe had 5 receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. While the Chiefs had enough yards to get the job done, they couldn’t manage to get themselves into the endzone. I think Todd Haley had dreams of TD ace, Drew Brees, playing for his team last night. Defensively, the Chiefs were unable to create any turnovers. They did throw Russell off of his game, but couldn’t keep Darren McFadden out of the endzone with 1:07 left in the game. The Arrowhead faithful thought this was a game they could get, but once again left their own stadium disappointed.
Looking Forward: The Chiefs are not looking forward to going to Philadelphia to play the Eagles (1-1). That’s like slamming your finger in the car door, and then being asked to cook a meal in Wolfgang Puck’s kitchen the next week. While the Eagles could be starting Kevin Kolb again instead of Donovan McNabb (ribs), I don’t see the Chiefs standing much of a chance. Kolb threw for 391 yards and 2 TDs, but also threw 3 INTs. The Eagles put a dent in the Panthers in week 1, and then put up a descent fight against the Saints. While the Chiefs defense has improved a bit compared to last season, I foresee them having trouble with Brian Westbrook. They are allowing 25 points per contest, and have to deal with a hostile crowd in Philadelphia who is not afraid to rub your own misery in your face.
Looking Back: Maybe their win against the Chiefs was supposed to make up for their heartbreaking loss against the Chargers in week 1. Tom Cable is doing something right with this team if they can almost take out the Chargers, and then go into Kansas City to play “god’s gift” (Matt Cassel) and the Chiefs, and win. JaMarcus Russell looked like he was throwing from his living room couch completing just 7 passes on 24 attempts for 109 yards. That endzone is beginning to look like a foreign land to him once again. It’s a good thing Darren McFadden found it along with 55 all purpose yards. It was the Raiders defense that kept them in this one. Michael Huff (2 INTs) and Kirk Morrison (13 tackles) were the stand out performers on that squad and big reasons why the head scratching began when I looked at the numbers from that game. A big motivation for their improvement this season? Looking back at last year.
Looking Forward: The Raiders always love to host the Broncos. It was usually because Mike Shanahan hated that team with such a passion that even fair weather Raiders fans loved their team the day the orange and blue took the field. Last year, the Raiders and Broncos split games. This year, their first meeting will be of great importance to both teams. The Broncos need this victory before they hit their tough 8 game stretch of the season that kicks off with Dallas the following week. The Raiders want this game to help them find out which Raiders team they are supposed to be. Are they the team that nearly beat San Diego or are they the team that just barely skidded by the Chiefs? Russell’s offense could very well struggle against Denver’s newly found defense while Denver’s offense could have trouble with a Seymour led defense. This is going to be yet another great battle between the teams.
Looking Back: The Chargers faced a very good Baltimore Ravens team. We all knew that the Ravens had a tough defense, and we are just barley learning that Joe Flacco can lead this team right into the Super Bowl. While Philip Rivers had a solid performance (25-45, 436 yds., 2 TDs, 2 INTs), I think he and the rest of his offense are having Ray Lewis induced nightmares. With the team needing a touchdown, Lewis stopped the Chargers on 4th and 2 with 33 seconds remaining when the Chargers were on Baltimore’s 15 yard line. LaDanian Tomlinson didn’t play, so Darren Sproles got the start and finished with only 10 carries for 26 yards on the ground. He made up for it though with 7 receptions for 124 yds. and a TD. Vincent Jackson also had a big day with 6 receptions for 141 yds. and a TD. San Diego’s defense couldn’t contain Willis McGahee (2TDs), or pressure Flacco that much.
Looking Forward: The Chargers host the Miami Dolphins in week 3. They will look to solidly handle the Dolphins since they have to go into the Steel City to play the Steelers the following week. At this point, it’s still unknown if Tomlinson will play. Playing in one of the toughest divisions in football, with a very difficult schedule, this Dolphins team is a very good team. The Chargers have a big task at hand containing Chad Pennington, Ronnie Brown, and Ted Ginn Jr. Not to mention, tight end Anthony Fasano (7 TDs in ’08) is always a mid field threat. Joey Porter is capable of making Philip Rivers cry like the big baby he is. I see the Chargers winning this game as they hope to gather some momentum for the rest of the season.