The AFC West was as full of facades as a Lady Gaga concert in week 1. Who would have thought that the Kansas City Chiefs would get the sole win in the division? While there are still fifteen games left to be played before the playoffs, every team showed its strong points and its weaknesses early on. Here’s a brief breakdown of what happened and what’s to come.
Denver Broncos (0-1):
Looking Back: No one wants to look back on the hot, humid, and rainy loss. Just as Florida showed all of its weather, the Jags showed all of their offense to a Broncos team that had trouble getting a stop when it counted. The Jags passed and ran their way to a 24-17 win using David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew as the pillars in their offense. Denver’s defense had a hard time putting pressure on Garrard, tallying only one sack. Penalties ate 70 yards off of the Broncos production proving that it’s not always sunny in Florida. Kyle Orton was solid as was the receiver-by-committee approach.
Looking Forward: The Broncos host their first home game of the season against the Seahawks. Keep an eye on these hawks. They beat San Francisco in week one 31-6. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 2 TDs and ran in for another proving that the offense hasn’t stalled since Pete Carroll took over as coach. Perhaps it’s a good thing that the Broncos got off to a slow start. Last year, they started 6-0 only to finish 2-8. In 2008, they won their first 4 of 5, but then lost their last 3 and failed to make the playoffs. Maybe momentum is best utilized in November and December.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-0):
Looking Back: Monday night was a Chiefs kind of game. The Missouri skies dumped rain, playing to their powerful running game and inhibiting the arm of Philip Rivers. The sea of red saw a relentless Kansas City defense and a solid rushing attack that picked up Matt Cassel’s off day. Cassel went 10-22 for 68 yards and 1 TD. Jamaal Charles was the stud with 11 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Dexter McCluster booked it down the sidelines for a 94-yard punt return TD. There’s no looking back for the Chiefs. Their years of rebuilding may have helped the future finally become the present.
Looking Forward: The Chiefs take to the road for a visit with the Cleveland Browns in week 2. The Browns lost to the Bucs last week. The Chiefs will see a steady dose of Jake Delhomme, Jerome Harrison, and Peyton Hillis. Matt Cassel will need to be on his game against a tough Browns secondary. Against the Bucs, the Browns had 7 pass deflections. It looks as though the Browns are going down and the Chiefs will be 2-0.
Oakland Raiders (0-1):
Looking Back: The JaMarcus Russell era is over, but that didn’t put a mark in the win column for Oakland in week 1. In the Raiders 38-13 loss to the Titans, Jason Campbell was more productive than a typical Russell going 22-37 for 180 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Darren McFadden had 18 carries for 95 yards, and 6 receptions for 55 yards and a TD. The Titans offense was just too potent between Vince Young and Chris Johnson. The offensive line allowed 4 sacks on Campbell and three of Campbell’s passes were deflected, never allowing him to get in a rhythm.
Looking Forward: The Saint Louis Rams will visit the Black Hole in week 2. They nearly pulled off a win against Arizona last week. If Al Davis isn’t too busy drooling over Sam Bradford (or at least his contract), then the Raiders should be able to pull off a win at home against a young Rams team. Bradford threw the ball 55 times last week, so if the Rams expect the same amount of output from their #1 pick, Raiders corner Nnamdi Asomugha could come up big. The Raiders have a very good shot at getting their first win of the year.
San Diego Chargers (0-1):
Looking Back: The Chargers get off to a slow start once again, but look for them to be in the playoff lead or hunt in December. The Chargers are like that rollercoaster at the amusement park that climbs the steepest hill at the beginning of the ride in order to gain a massive amount of speed. A loss to the Chiefs was a bit of a surprise even with LaDanian Tomlinson gone, and Vincent Jackson and Shawne Merriman not suited up. Cry me a (Philip) Rivers played well with 298 yards on 22-39 passing and 2 TDs, but the Chargers couldn’t pull it out despite controlling the clock (37:28 to 22:32).
Looking Forward: San Diego looks forward to welcoming Jacksonville into town. Can the Jags feast off of the AFC West this season? A 2-0 start for them is just as motivating as the first win of the season is for the Chargers. Norv Turner’s squad can never be counted out of any game with the kind of offensive firepower they have. All they need to do is get things right on defense and on kickoff coverage for this team to be back where they were at the end of last season.
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