Peyton Manning (18) makes a call at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter against the New England Patriots. (Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE)

AFC West Breakdown: Week 5

The only AFC West team to walk away from week five without a loss was the Oakland Raiders, and that’s only because they didn’t play. The division continues to get hammered with only the San Diego Chargers above .500. The Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, meanwhile took hard losses for different reasons. Let’s take a look at what happened and what’s to come in week 6.

Denver Broncos (2-3):

Looking Back: The Broncos just can’t seem to break the .500 mark. They have the second toughest schedule in football (only behind the New York Giants), and it shows. The Broncos lost to the New England Patriots 31-21 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. The Broncos were down 31-7 late in the third quarter because they couldn’t slow the Patriots super high-speed offense. The Patriots set a franchise record with 35 first downs in the game, and they were able to convert on multiple third and longs. Peyton Manning played well going 31-for-44 for 345 yards and 3 touchdowns, but the defense couldn’t get themselves off the field. The Patriots were 11-for-17 on third down, and dashed their way to 251 yards on the ground. Who says Tom Brady has to do everything? The Broncos can’t win the ballgame by making major mistakes.

Looking Forward: Week six has become a must win game for the Broncos. They head to sunny San Diego to take on the Chargers on Monday night before getting some down time. Momentum heading into the bye is a very good thing. The Chargers certainly will be looking at game film to see exactly what the Patriots offense did to blow the Broncos out of the water. Look for Philip Rivers to pick up his pace, and when the Broncos show nickel, expect the Chargers to run, run, run. It’s how the Patriots won.

Kansas City Chiefs (1-4): 

Looking Back: The score looks more like a baseball game than a football game, but the Chiefs kept it close, losing to the Baltimore Ravens 9-6. Some of the loudest cheers came when Matt Cassel was knocked out of the game with a head injury in the fourth quarter. Prior to that, Cassel went 9-for-15 for 92 yards with 2 interceptions and 2 fumbles. When Brady Quinn replaced him, he went 3-for-3 for 32 yards, but still couldn’t get the team into the end zone. Jamaal Charles had a big day against a very good defense with 30 carries for 140 yards. It was the turnovers that killed the Chiefs who are -15 in turnover differential on the season.

Looking Forward: As unfortunate as it is, perhaps the injury to Cassel will benefit the Chiefs. Quinn is a solid quarterback who simply hasn’t been given a fair shot as a pro. We could see him get the start as the Chiefs take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) in Florida in week six. The Bucs will be coming in fresh off their bye week, but they’re ranked dead last against the pass. If there’s one game for Quinn to prove himself this is it. The Bucs are better against the run (4th), but with Charles picking his game up, the run defense will have a hard time. The Bucs are 23rd in rushing and 29th in passing, so this is the kind of game that can get the Chiefs on track.

Oakland Raiders (1-3):

Looking Back: Prior to the bye, the Raiders lost to the Broncos 37-6. The team was missing some of their starters from the secondary so the rest week gave the Raiders a chance to recover. It also gave first-year head coach Dennis Allen the chance to reevaluate the way he’s doing things.

Looking Forward: Up next is the undefeated Atlanta Falcons down south. They’re +10 in the turnover margin and they’re tearing teams up on both sides of the ball. The Falcons are 6th in points (29.6 per game) and 7th in the passing game. Julio Jones and Roddy White present all kinds of matchup issues, particularly for a team that’s weak in the secondary. Defensively, they’re even better. They’re allowing just 18.6 points per game and they’ll swipe any poorly thrown ball. Oakland probably wants to extend their bye for another week.

San Diego Chargers (3-2):

Looking Back: On a national stage, the Chargers handed the New Orleans Saints their first win of the season because Rivers turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter. Rivers had 354 yards passing, going 27-for-42 with two touchdowns, but he also had an interception. The two touchdown passes went to former Saint Robert Meachem. Malcom Floyd led the team in receiving with 5 catches for 108 yards. The Bolts gave up 370 yards and four touchdowns to Drew Brees who set the new record for touchdown passes in consecutive games (48th straight game), and he was able to do it in front of suspended head coach Sean Payton.

Looking Forward: The Chargers are giving up plenty of passing yards (260.0 per game) and passing touchdowns (11 on the season) so look for Peyton Manning and the Broncos to exploit that. The Bolts are better defenders in the ground game. Like Denver, this is the Chargers last game before their bye.

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