The train is leaving and the Broncos are on board and ready to pull away from the regular season station already. They’ve jumped out to a big lead in the AFC West just five weeks into the season while the other teams struggle to avoid weekly embarrassment. If this were Hollywood, we would be seeing the Chiefs, Raiders, and Chargers in the tabloids portraying constant dysfunction a la Lindsay Lohan. Grab your bucket of popcorn and get ready for the AFC West’s weekly breakdown.
Denver Broncos (5-0):
Looking Back: The game that was of Mile High importance turned into a Mile High celebration at Invesco on Sunday. Josh McDaniels beat his mentor, Bill Belichick, and then gave his team an extra day off to recover from such a physical game. The Broncos felt all warm and fuzzy on the inside after beating the Patriots 20-17 in overtime. The fist pumping and jumping into his players arms comes naturally to McD, and is one of the few things he didn’t pick up from the stoic Belichick. Orton was nearly mistake free once again as he threw for over 300 yards and 2 TDs. His only interception of the season came on a long bomb on the final play of the first half. Brandon Marshall showed that he’s happy to be in a Denver uniform while Eddie Royal had his first big game of the season with 10 catches for 90 yards.
Looking Forward: For the third week in a row, the Broncos will be front and center on a national stage. No strangers to national T.V., the Broncos will play their first Monday night game of the year in San Diego. The Chargers are coming off of their bye week, so they will be well rested and looking to knock their divisional opponent off of a high pedestal. Correll Buckhalter could be back which would take pressure off of Orton. Without Buckhalter against the Patriots, McD put the weight of the team on Orton’s shoulders, making him pass 48 times. Knowshon Moreno did a great job in Buckhalter’s place, but versatility at running back is important since the Bolts are 12th in the league at defending the pass.
Looking Back: It was a great effort by the Chiefs who nearly took out the Dallas Cowboys. The game went into overtime, and Jerry Jones was close to going into epileptic fits with the final score being 26-20. Miles Austin danced into the endzone in overtime after racking up 10 catches for 250 yards and 2 TDs for the Cowboys. Who is Roy Williams again? The Chiefs allowed 498 yards of total offense while accumulating 304 yards of their own. Matt Cassel went 23-41 for 253 yards and 2 TDs, but didn’t have enough help from the ground game to step on the Cowboys when they were down. The Chiefs’ leading rusher was Larry Johnson with a disappointing 21 carries for 37 yards. Sensing the rivalry 2 states west, Cassel and Mike Vrabel made the old New England connection in the endzone. Like their former team, the effort was enough to get the win.
Looking Forward: The Chiefs face the Washington Redskins (2-3) next week in a winnable game. I thought the Redskins were going to be the NFC East’s team to beat with the pick up of Albert Hayne$worth, and the development of Jason Campbell. They’ve got so much pure talent on both sides of the ball, that they should easily beat the Chiefs. I don’t think that will happen, however. Despite owning the worst record in the division, the Chiefs have shown potential compared to the floundering Raiders. Matt Cassel is a good enough QB to stick it to the Skins’ defense. Meanwhile the Skin’s offense hasn’t scored more than 17 points in a single game this year. Their offense is having trouble with a banged up offensive line. It was the Lions who broke their losing streak against the Skins, and the Chiefs could very well do the same.
Looking Back: I think JaMarcus Russell is down for the count. There’s no reviving him this season, and Tom Cable should park him on the bench. In their 44-7 loss against the NY Giants, Russell fumbled 3 times, got sacked 6 times, threw for 100 yards, and is probably standing on the edge of a bridge in downtown Oakland right now. The Raiders played a very good team in the Giants, but the lack of effort on both sides of the ball was evident. Michael Bush led the team in rushing on 12 carries for 37 yards while Zach Miller had 4 catches for 69 yards. The Raiders gave up almost 500 yards of total offense, and I hear Eli Manning got out of work a little early because of the lopsided score. Ding, ding, ding. Fight over. Bring in the paramedics.
Looking Forward: The Raiders host a deadly Eagles (3-1) team next week. Donovan McNabb is back in action and doing so well that he’s enabling Michael Vick to get a few touches as well. Pick your poison, Raiders. The Eagles are still fresh off their bye week and a win over the Bucs, so look for them to put the nail in the Raiders 2009 season. I wonder is Al Davis will spend more time rooting for his team or convincing Vick to become a Raider next season. Either way, Davis already has next season on his mind. This one is a wash.
Looking Back: They recharged their batteries during a bye week.
Looking Forward: The two games against the Broncos are always highlighted on Philip Rivers’ calendar. Jay Cutler may not be playing, but Rivers has a special hatred for the Denver Broncos who sit atop “his” division. The Bolts are more vulnerable than last year, and the Broncos are obviously better than last year. I see the Broncos take this one even though they are traveling to sunny San Diego. The defense has proven that they can take a Pro Bowl QB out of his game (e.g. Tony Romo, Tom Brady), and with Rivers being the headcase that he is, it won’t take much. A couple of sacks or a forced fumble and Rivers is out of the game. However, should he get in rhythm, this team is talented enough to score on every drive. There’s a reason why this is a Monday Night game, so enjoy the show.