AFC West Breakdown: Week 4
(Kim Constantinesco writes for Predominantly Orange, which is FSB’s Denver Broncos blog. Representing the rest of the AFC West are Arrowhead Addict, Bolt Beat and Just Blog Baby.)
With a 1-3 record in the AFC West this week, everyone is looking forward to playing our division. The lone exception is Denver who remarkably stands 4-0 despite their turbulent offseason. Kansas City has been handing games over as early as the game opening kickoff, and at this point, Detroit looks more solid than they do. I hear Oakland is thinking about renting out space in the endzone to advertisers since the Raiders don’t use it that often. Meanwhile, San Diego falls to .500 and usually doesn’t realize that a loss is possible until the fourth quarter. That’s life in the AFC West a month into the season, and here’s a more detailed breakdown of the teams that mostly fail to impress.
Denver Broncos (4-0):
Looking Back: The bottom line is the defense rocks, and the offense locks until the game is on the line. The Broncos came away with a much needed win against the physical Dallas Cowboys to show that they may not be the worst undefeated team in the league. The Broncos held Marion the Barbarian to 41 yards on 11 carries including 1 TD which is more than anyone else has held him to. They also sacked Tony Romo 5 times, and forced him into an interception. Pass after pass was broken up, especially during the second half, leading me to wonder why the Cowboys tried two passing plays to their #4 receiver from the 2 yard line to tie the game. Either the lack of oxygen got to Wade Philips or someone slipped him something in his morning coffee at the team hotel. Kyle Orton (20-29, 243 yards, 2 TDs) is still turnover free which makes those inaccurate passes he was throwing a little easier to swallow. He’s not the gunslinger you know who is, but he’s a damn good bus driver who helped us beat a well respected team.
Looking Forward: This game has been circled, highlighted, starred, and underlined since Josh McDaniels took over in Denver. He goes up against his former team, the New England Patriots (3-1) on Sunday. Invesco will be rocking as both teams are coming off of big wins. The Pats just beat the previously undefeated Ravens, who in my opinion, have a good shot at the Super Bowl this year. The Broncos will look to avenge their Monday Night debacle from last year when Tom Brady was on the bench. This year, the stars will be in action. Brady, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker (just back from a knee injury) will face their former offensive coordinator in a game that is slated to be one of the best this season. McD knows their weaknesses and you can bet that he’ll be spending a lot of time with defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan, this week. New England isn’t the dominant team it once was with key players retiring or being traded away. The fireworks and flyover will be a tame opening act compared to what’s about to happen on center stage.
Looking Back: Life as a Chiefs fan is bleak. You think you’ll at least have a better record than the Raiders, but 4 weeks in, you’re just hoping that your team plays better than the St. Louis Rams. I think the state of Missouri should combine the Chiefs and Rams into one team and petition the league to allow this new team to have 22 players on offense and defense while other teams have 11 out on the field. The New York Giants played poorly, but still beat the Chiefs 27-16. It all started when the Chiefs fumbled the opening kickoff, and the Giants recovered on the Chiefs’ 17 to later score 6 on a Manning to Smith connection. The Chiefs tried to get the momentum back in the 2nd half when they tried an onsides kick only to have the Giants take it with great field position under their belts. Matt Cassel went 15-32 for 127 yards and 2 TDs, but he was sacked 5 times, and pressured all day. His late TD passes only made the final score a little less embarrassing.
Looking Forward: The Chiefs continue their swing through the NFC East with another home game against the Cowboys. If there’s any week you don’t want to be playing the Cowboys, it’s this week. Felix Jones may be back to compliment Marion Barber in the run attack. Meanwhile, Tony Romo is going to be working hard this week to get back in gear after his painstaking performance against the Broncos. The Chiefs pretty much have no hope. The Cowboys are like hungry lions just released after years in captivity. They’ll swallow anything in sight and expose every weakness your team has. That national media has been rough on them, and they’re looking to prove the critics wrong. The Chiefs should be able to get a little offense going with Cassel connecting with some of his receivers, but there’s no way the Chiefs defense will be able to stop Dallas’ run attack. Note: Making a trade for Marion Barber might be in your fantasy team’s best interest.
Looking Back: Raider haters, relax. This team just gets worse and worse each week. I can clearly hear the desperate cries for “Bruce Gradkowski” from Oakland. JaMarcus Russell (12-33, 128 yards, 1 fumble) failed to get into the endzone once again. It’s got to be hard to see the endzone only once per month. The Raiders played the Texans and watched Steve Slaton do what he wanted rushing and receiving wise. The Raiders gave up so many big pass plays that I think they were hoping the 49ers would help them out from across the bay by making some tackles. Too bad they forgot they were playing in Houston where the only help they would get would come from their field goal kicker, Sebastian Janikowski. When your leading receiver had 3 catches for 34 yards, it’s time to start recruiting from the local mall. The Raiders had 120 yards passing and 45 yards on the ground while committing 9 penalties. Doom and gloom continues in Raider Nation.
Looking Forward: Now that the Raiders have dug their own grave, all there is to do is jump in. That’s exactly what will happen when they visit the New York Giants. New York isn’t for the faint of heart, and the city will eat you alive if you’re already down on your luck. As if the Raiders didn’t have a hard enough time on offense, they have to go in to face a 4-0 team that is 1st in pass defense. I hear JaMarcus Russell started therapy sessions with Dr. Phil in anticipation of the game. Al Davis is fitting the bill. The Raiders had difficulty stopping the Texans air game. I can’t imagine them against Eli and his unknown but talented receiving corp. Like the Chiefs next week, I don’t give the Raiders a shot.
Looking Back: The game against the Steelers looked like a blowout until the fourth quarter. It was 28-0 at one point, but the Chargers came back and lost in a 38-28 effort. Philip Rivers threw for 254 yards on 21-36 passing, and 3 TDs. The Chargers rushing game was non-existent with just 16 yards total. LaDanian Tomlinson will no longer be a Charger at the end of the season. You can inscribe that into the history books right now. Antonio Gates had 124 yards receiving and 2 TDs, but it was the play (or lack thereof) of the Chargers rush defense that stands out. The Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall had 29 carries for 165 yards and 2 TDs. That’s how you control the play clock. I guess Norv Turner was right when he said that the Chargers aren’t as good as everyone thought they were. Self fulfilling prophecy? I think so!
Looking Forward: It’s on to the bye week for the Chargers. They will look to get players healthy and reevaluate what they’re doing this season. They could either come back very strong after the rest week or they could flop around like a dying fish like they’ve been doing through the first four weeks of the season. After their bye week, they will host the Broncos on Monday Night Football. The matchup is always physical and they could be facing an undefeated team at that point. Pull out the Kleenex for cry baby, Rivers. We know how he gets when he’s frustrated.