The AFC West pulled off enough tricks to see plenty of treats. The Chiefs, Raiders, and Chargers all walked away from week eight with victories, but the Broncos fell in defeat seven time zones away from home. To get you caught up to speed, here’s a breakdown of last week and what’s to come this week.
Denver Broncos (2-6):
Looking Back: A 10-hour flight took the Broncos to London to play the San Francisco 49ers. Another 10-hour flight brought the team back to the States with one more loss to the right hand column. In the 24-16 loss, the Broncos basically handed the game over to the 49ers by committing two penalties that took two touchdowns away from the team. They were up 10-3 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but then allowed the 49ers to go on a 3 TD run in a span of 8-minutes. Kyle Orton put on another impressive show going 28-for-40 for 369 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT, but the Broncos still weren’t able to get those jet-lagged legs moving on the ground as the team had 59 rushing yards.
Looking Forward: This team is looking forward to the bye. Nagging injuries can be nursed and the coaching staff can re-evaluate the team’s strategies. With five of six division games ahead in the second half of the season, one can make the case that now is the most important part of the Broncos’ season.
Kansas City Chiefs (5-2):
Looking Back: They almost cracked. And when the Chiefs crack, they do it big. They went into overtime against the winless Bills where Ryan Succop had to boot one through from 35 yards out to beat the Bills 13-10. Before that, however, the Bills thought they won their first game of the season when their kicker, Rian Lindell, nailed a 53-yarder in overtime. The good ole’ timeout strategy worked for the Chiefs. They had made the move, negating Lindell’s kick and forcing him to kick another. The second attempt missed, giving Succop his chance to outsmart the Arrowhead winds. For a team that is averaging 23.3 points per game, their offense couldn’t keep drives alive and put points on the board. Matt Cassel went 14-for-26 for 152 yards and 1 TD. Jamaal Charles had another very productive day on the ground with 177 yards on 22 carries. That’s a beastly 8.0 yards per carry against the 32nd ranked rushing defense. Just a warning: the Broncos’ rush defense is ranked 31st.
Looking Forward: The top two teams in the AFC West meet when the Black Hole opens up and invites the Chiefs into their home. The Raiders have something going and can really challenge this Chiefs team. It looks like the Chiefs will be successful if they continue to pound the ball with Charles and Thomas Jones. The Raiders are 26th in rush defense and 4th in pass defense. The Chiefs should put up a good test for the unstoppable, Darren McFadden. They are 7th in the league in rush defense and will need every ounce of it to stop his league leading 111.3 yards per game. This game will be a battle of will and clock management. It’s not the team that runs the ball the best that will win because both teams can break down defenses on the ground. It’s the quarterback that doesn’t turn the ball over in the air game that will win.
Oakland Raiders (4-4):
Looking Back: The Raiders are on a roll first with a 45-point win over Denver and then with a 30-point win over Seattle. That’s their first back-to-back win in two seasons. Jason Campbell looked like the QB of old going 15-for-27 for 310 yards and 2 TDs. Darren McFadden was phenomenal again with 111 yards on 21 carries. However, it was Oakland’s defense that had Matt Hasselbeck on his back for most of the game. The Raiders sacked him eight times and put Seattle’s equipment manager to work getting those stains out of his jersey. The only downside to the win was that Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha went down with a sprained ankle. He should be available to play in week 9, however.
Looking Forward: The Raiders are probably looking forward to hosting the division’s top team. This is the first time in years that they are at .500 this late in the season, and not only have they come to play in their last two outings, but they’ve done it with conviction. The team doesn’t want to look too far into the future, but one more win before their bye week would put them on cloud nine.
San Diego Chargers (3-5):
Looking Back: They finally took care of business and they did it against a very good Tennessee Titans team. All it took was some emotion from Norv Turner in the locker room at halftime when his team was trailing by five. The Chargers ended up beating the 5-3 Titans 33-25. Philip Rivers had a customary performance going 27-for-36 for 305 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT while running backs Mike Tolbert and Ryan Matthews each contributed a touchdown to the winning effort. Prior to this game, the Chargers had lost three in a row. Is this the time where their season typically shifts? It had better be since we’re into November and the Chargers have a long way to go if they’re going to catch the Chiefs.
Looking Forward: The Chargers have a very tough game coming up in Houston. The Texans (4-3) are right in the thick of a very competitive AFC South division and are looking to get back on track after their loss to the Colts on Monday Night Football. The Texans have the same kind of offensive horsepower to keep up with the Chargers with Andre Johnson catching balls and Arian Foster tearing up defenses on the ground. This will be toughest defense that they’ve faced all season as the Chargers are ranked 1st in pass defense and 2nd in rush defense. The Texans’ defense, however, is not nearly as demonstrative. They are ranked dead last in pass defense and 14th in run defense. Philip Rivers could have a field day, and if he does, the Bolts will walk away winners before their bye week.
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