The gap in the AFC West just keeps growing and growing. The Denver Broncos were the only team from the division to pull out the win. The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are trying to keep their necks in the race while the Kansas City Chiefs continue to show that they’re the worst team in the league. Let’s take a look at the week that was and what’s to come.
Denver Broncos (6-3):
Looking Back: It doesn’t get more convincing than sacking Cam Newton seven times. The Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 36-14 for the team’s fourth consecutive win. The Broncos’ defense and special teams guided the team to the win. The Broncos’ offense put up 14 points while Tony Carter had a pick-6, Trindon Holliday ran a punt back 76 yards for a touchdown, and Matt Prater added six points off of field goals. Peyton Manning went 27-for-38 for 301 yards and a touchdown which tied him with Dan Marino for the second most passing touchdowns in NFL history. Von Miller proved once again that he was the defensive leader as four of his six tackles went for a loss, he added a sack, and a he forced fumble. The team has finally hit its stride after a bumpy start.
Looking Forward: The Broncos host the Chargers in the two teams’ second meeting of the season. The last time these two teams played, the Broncos mounted a historic comeback after being down 24-0 at halftime. The team rattled off 35 unanswered points to make it the biggest comeback victory in Monday Night Football history. The Broncos probably gave Philip Rivers nightmares for weeks. He threw four interceptions, and fumbled the ball in the loss. Week in and week out, the Broncos are looking more and more like a complete team.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-8):
Looking Back: The thorn in the side all season long for the Chiefs has been turnovers. That was no different in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. After Matt Cassel threw a 27-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe on 4th and 15 to get Ryan Succop within field goal range to tie the game, the Chiefs blew it in overtime. They won the coin toss, and on the Chiefs’ second play in overtime, Cassel threw a pick into the arms of Lawrence Timmons at the Chiefs’ 19 yard line. Just like that the Steelers were in field goal range, and won it 16-13 even without Ben Roethlisberger, who left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Cassel went 11-for-26 for 154 yards and 1 interception. Jamaal Charles rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 23 touches.
Looking Forward: The Chiefs move on to host the 4-5 Cincinnati Bengals next week. The Bengals may have lost to one Manning, but they weren’t going to let another Manning beat them this season. They destroyed the New York Giants 31-13 in a game that no one expected them to win. With the Bengals’ confidence rising high, this won’t be an easy one for the Chiefs. The Chiefs have a league-high 30 turnovers (15 INTs, 15 fumbles), and the Bengals are great at pressuring opposing quarterbacks. They’re 5th in the league in sacks with 27. Cassel looks to be in for another long day.
Oakland Raiders (3-6):
Looking Back: After stringing two consecutive wins together shortly after their bye week, the Raiders regressed to their old ways. Their 55-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens makes it two losses in a row. The Ravens didn’t have to punt until the third quarter as they scored on their first six of seven possessions. The Raiders were without Darren McFadden and put up just 72 rushing yards. Carson Palmer went 29-for-45 for 368 yards with 2 touchdowns, an interception, and a fumble before the team put Matt Leinart into the lineup during garbage time. The Raiders were right there up until the end of the first half. Palmer threw a 55-yard pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey to make it a 20-10 game, but Ray Rice added another Ravens’ touchdown with 24 seconds left in the half to make it 27-10. It was pretty much game over at that point.
Looking Forward: It doesn’t get any easier for the Raiders as they prepare to host the New Orleans Saints (4-5). The Saints are coming off of a huge win in which they beat the previously undefeated Atlanta Falcons 31-27. The Saints are doing nothing but picking up steam after their horrendous start. They’ve won their last four of five. If the Raiders had met the Saints early in the season, they would have had a shot. The Raiders have shown improvement from last season under new head coach Dennis Allen, but they still don’t have all the pieces necessary to make a serious run in the AFC West.
San Diego Chargers (4-5):
Looking Back: It’s a good thing there’s more to San Diego than just football. The sunny skies and the beach can ease the heart of any fair weather Chargers’ fan. The Chargers lost 34-24 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Florida. The Bucs scored on the Chargers from all angles – offense, defense, and special teams. Rivers went 29-for-37 for 337 yards with 3 touchdowns, but he also threw a couple of picks. Rivers has the 2nd most picks in the league with 12, only behind Tony Romo who has 13. The Chargers owned the clock and put up nearly 150 yards of total offense more than the Bucs. Still, the Bucs won because they didn’t turn the ball over. Josh Freeman went a conservative 14-for-20 for 210 yards, but he had 2 touchdowns. Ryan Mathews had 54 yards on 17 carries.
Looking Forward: The Chargers will seek sweet revenge on the team that absolutely embarrassed them on national television five weeks ago. If the Chargers are to compete in this one, the Rivers’ interceptions have to stop. The Broncos have been on a tear on all sides of the ball, and they’re not letting off the gas. If anything, they’ll put the pedal to the metal. A win over the Chargers now virtually seals the AFC West division title for them. The Chargers still have Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh up ahead.