AFC West Breakdown: Week 7
(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.)
It was Armand Demele that said “Self sabotage is the smartest thing you can do if you’re sabotaging a self that is not really you.” I don’t know what characters the Raiders and the Chiefs are playing this season, but if this is true, they are clearly self destructing to find themselves. I thought there was only one rock bottom you could hit, but the ocean floor seems to be dropping more quickly than swine flu is spreading. If I were the Raiders or Chiefs, I’d break it down and start anew. Turn the page and get back to basics like holding onto the football and wrapping two arms around to make a tackle. Meanwhile, the Chargers won despite a flu outbreak in their locker room. They made a statement after their Monday night loss, and jumped to within striking distance of the Broncos. Here’s the breakdown:
Denver Broncos (6-0):
Looking Back: Josh McDaniels gave the Broncos almost 5 full days off during their bye week. It’s great that those minor injuries will be healed, but I’m a little worried that some focus and momentum may have been lost. They watched some film from their Monday night game on Wednesday, and then were released for the long weekend. They return back to Dove Valley today.
Looking Forward: I don’t think anyone from the Broncos is looking forward to traveling to Baltimore to play the Ravens. The Ravens are just 2-3, but they are a much better team than their record suggests. Their offense is actually putting points on the board this year and it’s their defense that is struggling a bit. They too are coming off of their bye week, so Sunday’s game should be full of big hits and big plays with a bunch of fresh feet on the field. For the remainder of the season, the Broncos are focusing on establishing their dominance in the first half of the game. The second half performance has been thrilling, but a Super Bowl contender doesn’t get by on two quarters of play.
Looking Back: Let me set the scene: It’s a dark cloudy day at Arrowhead, half of the red seats are empty, it’s the 4th quarter and your team is down 37-7. Insert cold rain and go home looking like a drowned depressed rat. That’s what many Chiefs fans experienced at the end of yesterday’s loss to the Chargers. I thought they had more fight in them than that based on their competitive game against the Cowboys two weeks ago. Matt Cassel was terrible going 10-25 for 97 yards, 1 TD, and 3 INTs. He almost had half the number of Chiefs’ completions going to the Chargers. Dwayne Bowe had the lone TD, but he only caught 2 passes for 11 yards. Larry Johnson had 16 carries for 49 yards. Defensively, the Chiefs weren’t able to put any pressure Philip Rivers. The Chiefs have lost 10 straight and 29 of their last 32 at Arrowhead. So, what do the Chiefs and possums have in common? Both play dead at home and get killed on the road!
Looking Forward: The Chiefs will look forward to not losing next week only because they’re not playing. They draw the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) in week 9.
Looking Back: I’ve said this before, but I really think Al Davis should rent out advertising space in the endzone since the Raiders aren’t using it. They put up another goose egg in the scoring column and allowed the Broadway Prince, Mark Sanchez, to help his offense to 38 points. The Jets got their fire back, and the Raiders had their little spark put out after last week’s surprising win against the Eagles. JaMarcus Russell was pulled from the game after a 6-11, 2 INT performance. Backup QB Bruce Gradkowski wasn’t much better going 10-19 for 97 yards. Justin Fargas led the team in rushing with 8 carries for 67 yards. The Raiders’ defense was sackless, and forced one fumble. They allowed the Jets 316 yards in rushing alone. Throw in 131 yards passing from the Jets, and you have the lopsided score you see now.
Looking Forward: The travel time might be the only easy thing about the Raiders’ visit to San Diego next week. The Chargers can pass and run the Raiders’ nonexistent defense into the ground. Things won’t get easier for JaMarcus Russell because San Diego has a tough pass defense. It’s a good thing the Raiders have a bye the following week because this battered bunch could use some time off.
Looking Back: The Chargers made their way back to .500 and crept a little closer to the Broncos in the AFC West standings. It’s still a long road back though. Philip Rivers went 18-30 for 268 yards and 3 TDs. Despite skipping practice earlier this week with a bout of the flu, LaDanian Tomlinson had 23 carries for 71 yards and didn’t cough (no pun intended) up the ball once. Vincent Jackson put together another big day with 5 catches for 142 yards and 1 TD. San Diego sacked Matt Cassel 4 times, forced him into 3 picks, and never let their offense get off the ground. Throw in a Jacob Hester blocked punt, and the dreary weather started to look better than the Chiefs yesterday. The Chargers electrified their game and hope to continue making progress.
Looking Forward: Hosting the Raiders is like taking the trash out- A chore that’s easy to do, but stinks in the process. The Chargers are back on their good foot for now, and a win next week is almost a given considering the current state of the Raiders. I’m sure the Chargers’ game plan will be to expose the Raiders weak defensive line by providing a steady dose of LT and Darren Sproles. Their passing game has been so effective that I’m sure Jackson and Antonio Gates will have big days. Unfortunately, this contest won’t be like the one we saw in week 1 on Monday Night Football when the Chargers barely squeaked by the Raiders 24-20.