Just one AFC West team pulled out the win in week 9. The at one time down-and-out Broncos came through with a big road win, pulling them to within one game of first in the division. That’s what beating a divisional opponent will do for you. Meanwhile the Raiders were the Broncos victims, the Chiefs got blown out, and the Chargers lost to the defending Super Bowl Champions. Let’s take a closer look at the week that was and the week that’s to come.
Denver Broncos (3-5):
Looking Back: Forget Occupy Wall Street. Everyone in Denver is occupying the concept of Tim Tebow. Before he was named the team’s starter, the Broncos were 1-4. With him as the starter, they’re 2-1. The Broncos took out the team and the fans of Oakland in a 38-24 win. 31 second half points and 163 rushing yards by Willis McGahee quieted the raucous Raider crowd. Eddie Royal came back to life after being in a comatose state during the Josh McDaniels era. He reeled in a 26-yard TD reception and then returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown. Tebow showed that his legs are more deadly than his arm with 118 rushing yards on 12 carries and 124 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. He is just the 16th QB in the history of the league to run for at least 100 yards in a game. With that said, week 9 was mighty fine for an improving Broncos team.
Looking Forward: Can the Broncos make it three straight on the road? They pack their bags once again for the short flight over to Kansas City. The Chiefs are coming off of a tough loss, but they had won four straight prior to week nine, albeit two of the wins came against the Colts and the Vikings. The Broncos have found what works. The run option was their bread and butter against the Raiders. If the offensive line stays strong and Tebow and McGahee continue to be such a threat on the ground, it’s only a matter of time before the team’s passing game improves. The Broncos enter a tough part of their schedule with the Jets and Chargers coming up after the Chiefs.
Kansas City Chiefs (4-4):
Looking Back: The bye week can either help teams or kill team. After winning four in a row including wins against the Chargers and the Raiders (28-0), the Chiefs were blown out of the Miami waters, losing to the winless Dolphins 31-3 after their bye. Matt Cassel went 20-for-39 for 253 yards, but he couldn’t get into the end zone. The Dolphins brought too much pressure, sacking him 5 times, and forcing him to scramble 9 times. The injury to Jamaal Charles is proving to be devastating to the Chiefs offense. They are so one dimensional right now, and Cassel has shown that he can’t handle the pressure. The injured Chiefs defense is taking hits as well. Allowing the Dolphins to put up 31 points in Kansas City was a disgrace to all involved.
Looking Forward: The Chiefs will host for the third week in a row. When they throw out the welcome mat for the Broncos, a sheet of ice will be at the doorstep. They’re hoping for a massive slip-up from the young team. Like other teams that have faced Tebow, the Chiefs will likely come with pressure when he’s in the shotgun. When No. 15 is forced to work fast, that’s when he makes mistakes passing the ball. The Chiefs went 1-1 against the Broncos last year with their loss being by 20 points. When they won, they beat them 10-6. Defensively, the Chiefs don’t excel in any one particular area, and they are last in the league in sacks. Tebow could have his breakout passing day against the depleted secondary.
Oakland Raiders (4-4):
Looking Back: Oakland in fact became Chokeland. They gave up a 17-7 lead at half time and ended up losing by 14 points to their arch rivals, the Broncos. Carson Palmer got off to a strong start, but perhaps too much time on the couch caught up with him. By the end of the game, he looked tired and had three interceptions next to his name. The team missed their one-two punch of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, but Bush still had 96 yards on 19 carries. The Raiders defense had its pirate sea legs in the first half, but collapsed in the second half. The combination of McGahee and Tebow were too much and the Broncos finished with 299 yards on the ground. Jacoby Ford led the team in receiving with 5 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, but at the end of the day, the Broncos had the biggest catch when they reeled in a Raiders team that didn’t have any fight left in them.
Looking Forward: The Raiders have a short week to prepare for the Chargers. They make the short drive down to San Diego for the first Thursday night game of the season. This week is going to really test Palmer who has 6 interceptions in his last two games. The Chargers are ranked 4th against the pass, and the secondary is hungry for a guy like Palmer. This is the time for the Raiders to win. They have the Lions, Packers, and Bears at the end of the season. Oh my.
San Diego Chargers (4-4):
Looking Back: It seems like at the beginning of each season, the Chargers look like Super Bowl contenders on paper. It turns out that year after year, they can’t even make it to the big game. Last week, they had the opportunity to face the actual Super Bowl Champions from last year. Now the Chargers can take a good long look at themselves in the mirror and see what they need to do to get there. The Packers beat up on the Bolts 45-38. Philip Rivers went 26-of-46 for 385 yards and he threw 4 TDs. He also threw 3 INTs and that’s what defined the game. The Chargers passing defense, who is normally very good, virtually handed Rodgers a perfect game. Rodgers finished with a 145.8 QB rating (out of a possible best of 158.3), and 4 TDs.
Looking Forward: The Bolts have lost three straight and will face a hungry Oakland team. Two teams coming off of losses and playing so soon after those losses is likely to produce a high scoring and physical game. Because Raiders fans will travel down to San Diego, expect the crowd to be split and the game to be heated. The Chargers started the season 4-1, but have quickly fallen. Can they pick things back up in time as per usual?