Three teams in the AFC West were featured in primetime in week one. First up was the Denver Broncos on Sunday night followed by the San Diego Chargers at the Oakland Raiders on Monday night. At the end of the first week, it definitely looks like the Broncos are the ones to contend with in this division. Let’s take a look at the week that was and what’s to come in the last week of the season.
Denver Broncos (1-0):
Looking Back: The Broncos have imposed a slight intimidation factor over Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. During primetime, the Broncos used the Mile High air to their advantage and put up 17 points in the 4th quarter to beat the Steelers 31-19. Peyton Manning was prolific, showing that he’s still got it despite not playing in a regular season game in 610 days. He went 19-for-26 for 253 yards and 2 touchdown passes in a no-huddle showcase. Despite having trouble stopping the Steelers on third down, the Broncos defense came up big down the stretch. It was newcomer Tracy Porter with the pick-6 to seal the game inside the two-minute mark.
Looking Forward: There’s much to look forward to with this Broncos team. Denver will play in it’s second primetime game of the season already when they travel south for a Monday night contest against the Atlanta Falcons. Boy, do those NFL schedulers know what they’re doing. The Falcons sit at 1-0 as well, and will provide another good test for the Broncos as they are already entrenched in the hardest part of their season.
Kansas City Chiefs (0-1):
Looking Back: The Kansas City Chiefs had the pleasure of throwing down the welcome mat to the Atlanta Falcons in week one, and the angry birds spoiled the Chiefs’ homecoming right after halftime. Atlanta had just a three point edge at the halfway mark, but blew it open to make it a 40-24 final. Matt Cassel went 21-for-33 for 258 yards, and a touchdown, but he threw two picks. He rushed for another score on his own. Jamaal Charles was back in the lineup after missing all but one full game last season with a torn ACL. He had 16 carries for 87 yards and busted one open on a 46 yard run. Matt Ryan was just too strong for the Chiefs defense as he contributed four touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing).
Looking Forward: If you have to play in Buffalo, this is the time of year to do it. The Chiefs hit the road to take on the 0-1 Bills who lost to the New York Jets in week one. The Bills made the New York Jets look like last year’s New York Giants in that one. The Bills are dealing with a knee injury to Fred Jackson who led the team in rushing last season and will miss a month or more of play, but C.J. Spiller had 14 carries for 169 yards and a touchdown. If the Chiefs’ run defense isn’t up to snuff, loss No. 2 is as good as in the books.
Oakland Raiders (0-1):
Looking Back: The Raiders were hoping to kick off the Dennis Allen era with a win, but they lost 21-14 to the Chargers at home. Special teams is what hurt the Raiders the most. After an injury to their long snapper, they had three botched punts. Expect the team to sign former Bronco Lonie Paxton as soon as possible. Carson Palmer went 32-for-46 for 297 yards and 1 touchdown, but the score was too little too late for the Raiders. Darren McFadden was tamed on the ground with 15 carries for 32 yards.
Looking Forward: The Raiders head down to South Beach to take on the Miami Dolphins (0-1) in week two. The Dolphins came up 20 points short to the Houston Texans in week one. Both teams are trying to rebuild (hey, when are they not?), but the Raiders seem to have more stability right now. They have to get their run game going, and get their special teams’ issues under control. They do that, and the week two should be their first win.
San Diego Chargers (1-0):
Looking Back: The Chargers always close out the season strong, but it’s the beginning of the schedule that seems to be their most daunting task. They started off right this go-around beating a division foe. Kicker Nate Kaeding was their MVP on Monday Night as he kicked five field goals after returning from a torn knee ligament. Philip Rivers and the offense didn’t put up big numbers, but they played a turnover free game. Rivers went 24-for-33 for 231 yards and a touchdown. The team really missed Ryan Mathews. Curtis Brinkley led the Chargers in rushing with only 10 carries for 12 yards.
Looking Forward: The Chargers will make their home debut against the Tennessee Titans (0-1) in week two. The Titans lost 34-13 to the New England Patriots to kick their season off. If a steady quarterback wins the game, then the Chargers should easily have this one. Titans starting QB Jake Locker hurt his non-throwing shoulder last week, but is expected to start against the Chargers. This is a ‘win for Norv’ season as he will be without a job if the Chargers don’t advance deep into the playoffs.