The Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders were the only teams to emerge from the AFC West victorious in week 8. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers, meanwhile, look like they will have some major front office changes occur at season’s end if not before. Let’s take a look at the week that was and what’s to come.
Denver Broncos (4-3):
Looking Back: The Broncos finally put together a total game for all 60 minutes when they defeated the New Orleans Saints 34-14 on Sunday night. Peyton Manning went 22-for-30 for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns. Demaryius Thomas was his primary target with 7 catches for 137 yards and a score. The team’s running game added some nice balance to the offense with 225 total yards on the ground. As impressive as those numbers are, the team’s defense really took center stage. The ring leader was Wesley Woodyard who should be considered for defensive player of the week honors. He had 13 tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 1 sack. Looks like the bye week was the Broncos’ best friend.
Looking Forward: The Broncos hit the road to play Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) who are coming off of a bye of their own. The Bengals got off to a solid start winning their first three of four, but they lost three consecutive games prior to the bye. Andy Dalton won’t be able to keep pace with the Broncos prolific offense no matter how much he goes to A.J. Green. The Bengals are a middle-of-the-road team offensively. This isn’t the complicated offense with multiple threats like the Broncos saw in the first half of the season. Cincinnati’s defense is 26th overall. If the Broncos play like they’re capable, this should be an easy win.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-6):
Looking Back: Things went from bad to worse for the Chiefs as they lost 26-16 to the Raiders. Brady Quinn went 2-for-4 for 1 yard and an interception before he was replaced by Matt Cassel due to a head injury. Cassel went 20-for-30 for 218 yards, but he also threw an interception and fumbled the ball. The Chiefs have not led in regulation all season. It’s a bad sign when Cassel leads the team in rushing with 35 yards on 7 carries. Prior to Sunday’s fourth quarter Cassel to Dexter McCluster touchdown pass, the Chiefs’ offense had not scored a touchdown since Sept. 30.
Looking Forward: Looking forward is a relative term. The Chiefs have a quick turnaround time to get ready for the Chargers on Thursday night football. On one hand, playing so quickly after a terrible loss may have a good motivational quality. The Chargers are reeling after their second embarrassing loss in a row, so the Chiefs can’t expect to go into San Diego and win easily.
Oakland Raiders (3-4):
Looking Back: The Raiders started the season a complete mess, losing their first four of five, but they’ve rattled off two straight wins against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Chiefs. Carson Palmer went 14-for-28 for 209 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. Darren McFadden put in a solid day on the ground with 114 yards on 29 carries, and the Raiders defense created four turnovers. The team’s recent wins come against teams that are a combined 2-9, but new head coach Dennis Allen has to be encouraged by the effort and the outcome.
Looking Forward: The Raiders host another bay area team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4). The Bucs are coming off of a huge 36-17 win over the 5-2 Minnesota Vikings. They played this game on Thursday night, so expect a lot of fresh legs from this Bucs team. Tampa Bay has been putting up some points this season with Josh Freeman. Their offense is averaging 26.3 points per game, one spot ahead of the Green Bay Packers. Defensively, the Bucs are just behind the Broncos in points allowed. Rookie Doug Martin is a huge threat on the ground, putting up 77.6 yards per game. The Raiders will have their hands full with a hot, young, talented team.
San Diego Chargers (3-4):
Looking Back: After dropping a 24-point halftime lead to the Broncos, and then having the bye week to regroup, one would think that a Philip Rivers-led offense could put up more than 6 points against the Cleveland Browns. That wasn’t the case, however. Embarrassment and rest didn’t fuel the Chargers’ fire. They lost 7-6 to the Browns in a dreary, cover-your-eyes type of game. The Bolts couldn’t stop a rookie. Trent Richardson had 122 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown. That lone score was all it took. Rivers went 18-for-34 for 154 yards, and had a potential touchdown pass dropped by Robert Meachem. Ryan Mathews had 95 yards on 24 carries, but he fumbled the ball. The Chargers have dropped three in a row.
Looking Forward: There’s one recipe for a Chargers win. Combine a home game with a visiting 1-6 Chiefs team, and that should be enough to get this team on track. Norv Turner knows his job is on the line. If the team loses this one, expect him to get the axe by Friday.