The big news out of the AFC West is that the Chiefs are not only the lone undefeated team in the division, but in the league as well. The Bears and the Steelers lost in week 4, but the Chiefs didn’t play, so they remain 3-0. The Chargers and Broncos are trying to keep pace each getting a win last week, while the Raiders fell another game back. With a quarter of the 2010 NFL season in the books, it’s very likely that the race for first place in the AFC West could come down to the Broncos, Chargers, and Chiefs.
Denver Broncos (2-2):
Looking Back: There’s no stopping “Outstanding Orton.” The ‘O’ in his name clearly states what he does best. He guides this Offense through hell and high water. He racked up 341 yards on 35-50 passing, 2 TDs, and 1 INT in the week four 26-20 victory over the Titans. The win, however, was a team effort. Denver’s rush defense stepped up to the plate and stiff-armed Chris Johnson’s performance. Johnson was held to his lowest rushing total of the season (53 yards). Special teams was another major factor in the Broncos win. Matt Prater kicked in 16 points. Kickoff coverage recovered a muffed punt late in the 4th quarter allowing Prater to kick in three more points to help build on the three point lead. This was a much needed win for the Broncos.
Looking Forward: There isn’t much to look forward to with the Broncos traveling to Baltimore (3-1) in week 5. Baltimore’s 5th-ranked defense will give Orton his toughest test to date. The Ravens are ranked 1st in pass defense and 21st in rush defense. They are coming off a hot victory against the Steelers and have finally gathered some momentum. Their defense has outshined their 27th ranked offense, but there are some potential big-play makers in Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, and Anquan Boldin. While no “expert” expects the Broncos to pull this one out on the road, the team has been proving critics wrong all season.
Kansas City Chiefs (3-0):
Looking Back: There’s no looking back too much because the Chiefs have a long season ahead of them. With an early bye-week, they got some rest, but they may have lost some momentum as well. Relishing in those first three wins is as good as putting a lid on the ’10 season.
Looking Forward: The Chiefs could very well be staring at their first loss of the season in week five. They head to Indy to face a team whose record doesn’t indicate just how tough they are. At 2-2, the Colts are uncharacteristically sitting at the bottom of the AFC South. They’re hungry for wins and the Chiefs could be the ultimate buffet after having last week off. For a quarterback that has a great rushing attack behind him and solid protection, Matt Cassel is not performing up to par. He has 4 TDs and 3 INTs with a QB rating of 75.4. The next few games will indicate if the Chiefs are in the “fo real” category or if they’re just pretenders.
Oakland Raiders (1-3):
Looking Back: The hot seat is calling Tom Cable’s name. Whether or not Al Davis recognizes it is another question. The Raiders lost to the Texans 31-24 in front of a home crowd consisting of approximately 3 Raider fans. The Texans must have felt like they were back in college playing in front of 32,218 fans. Arian Foster missed a quarter of work, but still managed 131 yards rushing, 56 yards receiving, and 2 TDs against a struggling Raiders defense that allowed 249 yards on the ground. The Raiders turned the ball over three times and never really got anything going offensively except the Brad Gradkowski-to-Zach Miller connection. Miller finished with 11 catches for 122 yards and 1 TD.
Looking Forward: Things don’t get any easier for the Raiders as they host the San Diego Chargers in week 5. There will be more bodies in the seats, but that’s only because Chargers fans will make the quick drive up to Oakland to support their team. The Raiders 6th-ranked rushing attack will provide a nice challenge for San Diego’s 7th-ranked rushing defense. The question becomes how can the Raiders stop the Chargers’ 3rd-ranked offense? Oakland’s pass defense is one of the best in the business, but their rush defense is down in the dumps. There’s still a chance for life to be injected into the Raiders’ veins, but the wins must start coming within the next week or two.
San Diego Chargers (2-2):
Looking Back: The Chargers beat up on the Cardinals 41-10. Philip Rivers made throwing the football look easy going 15-20 for 241 yards and 2 TDs. Antonio Gates was his favorite target with 7 catches for 144 yards and 2 TDs. Rookie running back Ryan Matthews got into the endzone for his first NFL score and kicker Nate Kaeding tacked on 11 points. It was an offensive field day while the Chargers defense forced three turnovers and sacked Arizona QBs, Derek Anderson and Max Hall, a total of nine times. At least those nine sacks were distributed to two QBs, unlike Jay Cutler.
Looking Forward: The Chargers travel up to Oakland in pro football’s “Cali-Bowl.” They are ranked 3rd in passing and 10th in rushing. They’re ranked 4th in pass defense and 7th in rush defense. The numbers are there on both sides of the ball, yet the Chargers stand at a surprising 2-2. They’ve got two relatively easy games coming up against the Raiders and the Rams, but then they cruise into the tough part of their schedule before their bye in week 10. The next two weeks are critical wins for this team.
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