Week one in the NFL goes to show you that being able to run the ball is a huge part of the game. The top three out of four QBs in passing yards (Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Chad Henne) all lost their games while the top five running backs (Darren McFadden, LeSean McCoy, Cedric Benson, Ben Tate, and Fred Jackson) all won their games. Now, let’s take a look around the AFC West.
Denver Broncos (0-1):
Looking Back: You can look all the way back to last season to see the areas that the Broncos had trouble in on Monday Night. Oakland put a beating on the Broncos run defense, and the offense couldn’t convert when needed. Kyle Orton passed for over 300 yards (like most other QBs this week), but Jason Campbell’s 105 passing yards and a steady dose of Darren McFadden carried the Raiders to a 23-0 win. Tebow chants sang from the choir, as John Fox’s promises to play the best man for the job weren’t so reassuring.
Looking Forward: The Broncos will remain home to prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Maybe a short week to prepare is just what the Broncos need as the bitter taste from Monday’s game remains in their mouths. The Bengals beat the Browns last week, with Cedric Benson leading the way. Benson had 25 carries for 121 yard and 1 TD. The Broncos defense will get a chance to redeem themselves against another strong back.
Kansas City Chiefs (0-1):
Looking Back: The Chiefs took a hard hit to start their season losing 41-7 to the
New England Patriots Buffalo Bills. They also took a hard hit to their roster losing Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry for the season with a torn ACL. The “Home of the Chiefs” was not so friendly to a team that finished the 2010 season with a 10-6 record which was good enough for a Wildcard spot in the playoffs. Matt Cassel went 22-for-36 for 119 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Jamaal Charles stood out as usual with 10 carries for 56 yards and 1 receiving TD. The question to ask is why is Charles, who is averaging 5+ yards per carry, only getting 10 carries? Yes, this one is on Todd Haley.
Looking Forward: The Detroit Lions of 2008? Yes, that would be something to look forward to. The Lions of 2011? That’s a different story. Heading into the Lions’ den after a morally defeating loss, the Chiefs take on a Detroit team that now has a pulse. Check that. They’ve got a strong heartbeat. Many people are picking the Lions (1-0) to make the playoffs this year, led by Ndamukong Suh on defense and Matthew Stafford on offense.
Oakland Raiders (1-0):
Looking Back: I’m surprised Al Davis didn’t put a bid in on naming the Broncos’ stadium because the Raiders have owned that place the past couple of years. The score didn’t have to be 59-14 again. All the Raiders had to do was go in and win. They continue their AFC West domination from last year (they swept the division in 2010), and start the season Just right. The Raiders defensive line proves to be their strong suit as they allowed the Broncos just 38 rushing yards. Sebastian Janikowski tied the record for longest field goal in a game (63 yards).
Looking Forward: The Raiders are on the road again, this time traveling to Buffalo. The Bills shocked the Chiefs last week 41-7, so what was at one time a walk in the dense woods, is now a competitive game. Ryan Fitzpatrick can show his composure. He threw for over 200 yards and had 4 touchdowns. The Raiders should be able to utilize their power and speed on this team.
San Diego Chargers (1-0):
Looking Back: The Chargers are notorious for their slow start to the season. They usually have to pile up wins in November and December to secure their playoff spot. In Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, they started at snail speed. It was 17-7 at halftime for a highly potent offense that has Philip Rivers at the helm. To say Norv Turner trusts his QB is to say the Pope trusts Jesus Christ. Rivers threw a staggering 48 passes and had 335 passing yards. He connected with Mike Tolbert for 2 TDs, but his go-to man was Antonio Gates who had 8 catches for 74 yards. End results: Bolts – 24 Vikings – 17. The Chargers are thanking their stars that the Vikings defense stalled worse than an 8 year old driving a 76′ Chevy Chevette.
Looking Forward: What a game we have for next week. They Chargers step into the depths of New England to take on the Patriots. It doesn’t matter who the Pats have on their roster as long as Bill Belichick is around and Tom Brady is under center. The Chargers are probably already missing old defensive coordinator Ron Rivera (now head coach of Panthers) for this matchup considering Brady threw for 517 yards against the Dolphins. The team will need to focus on the performance of special teams considering they gave up a touchdown to Percy Harvin on the opening kickoff in week one, and kicker Nate Kaeding is lost for the season with a torn ACL.