What in the world is going on with this division? The only AFC West team to win in week 5 was the Raiders. Hold on.... That can't be right.....
Hm. I guess it is. I've been religiously checking the sports sites just to see if there was some type of mistake in the scoring of the game. They all say the same thing, so I guess the Raiders actually did win. Surprising...
But what wasn't surprising about this weekend was the Chiefs losing. I wish I was the only person who predicted this, but I wasn't. Although, to be honest, I was a bit surprised at how close the game was. I expected a blowout, but the game was tied at 9 going into the fourth quarter.
Despite what the scoreboard said, with no passing game to speak of, the Chiefs could only hope to hang around and pray that they break the game open with a huge rushing or special teams touchdown. It didn't happen and the Colts won.
Here are the AFC West Division Standings, as of week 5:
Unbelievable, isn't it? The Chiefs on top of the division by one game with a three way tie for second. Talk about a wide open division...
The Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs lost to the Indianapolis Colts 9-19.
Like I said above, I'm surprised it was that close. In fact, at the end of the third quarter the score was tied at 9. I did not expect it, at all. The key to this game was, once again, third downs. The Colts were 8 for 17 (47%) on third downs while the Chiefs were 1 for 10 (10%) on third downs.
You don't have to be a mathematician - I'm certainly not one, anyways - to figure out that 1 for 10 is not good. Like I've said in the past....
You heard it here first...They will not be 6-0. They are just too capricious on third downs to beat a well-built football team.
Despite how egotistical it is to use myself as a reference, I stand by that statement for the 3rd straight week. Their third down efficiency is hurting the potential of the Chiefs. I think they could be a much better football team if they could manufacture some kind of third down efficiency.
I told a few posters in the comments section of last week's "The Rest of the West - Week 5", the following...
If they [the Chiefs] can show me that they are able to sustain a drive and frustrate Peyton Manning, then I will have to take a long look in the mirror this weekend. I don’t see that happening, right now, but we’ll see what happens.
Well, the Chiefs frustrated Peyton Manning (26 for 44 for 244 yards 0 TDs and 1 INT) and the Chiefs offense had 5 drives with 10 or more total plays. They reached both stipulations I laid out for them, so I did what I promised and took a long look in the mirror. After doing that, I determined that I vastly underrated the impact of the Chiefs running game. They are a solid unit. Jamal Charles rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries while Thomas Jones rushed for 19 yards on 8 carries. Over 100 yards in a game is impressive, especially when your passing game is sputtering.
They take on the Houston Texans (3-2).
The battle of the 3 win ball clubs. It's going to be interesting to see how they fare against the Texans who boast one of the league's worst pass defenses, but are the 5th best rushing defense (79.6 rushing yards allowed per game). The Texans are statistically the best rush defense that the Chiefs will face all year. Granted, they haven't had many offenses challenge them on the ground because of their struggles with pass defense (32nd.... last in the NFL in pass yards allowed).
My Take on the Chiefs
There has been an unusual amount of optimism in Kansas City lately. I'm all for that. I hate to harsh the mellow, but the Chiefs still have no passing game. It also doesn't help that the Chiefs aren't going to be able to run rampant against every team in the NFL. The Colts gave up 113 yards on the ground, but are the 29th ranked rush defense in the NFL. Anomaly? Perhaps, but maybe NFL defense are just starting to figure out that the Chiefs can't beat you in the air, so you may as well stack the box and take your chances with one on one wide receiver coverage.
I've been talking about third down completion percentage all year and it will make a difference down the stretch. The Chiefs are not cutting the mustard. They are 29th in the league in third down conversion percentage, above only the Bills, Redskins, and Bears. The Bills are.... the Bills. The Redskins have had 4 of their 5 games come down to the last play. The Bears allowed 10 sacks in a game... check that... what I meant to say was that the Bears allowed 10 sacks in a half. Jay Cutler is still trying to forget that one, I'm sure.
The Chiefs record may be 3-1 right now, but I'm telling you that it won't be pretty if they can't improve their efficiency. I can't make it any clearer than that, so we'll move on to the Chargers.
The San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers lost to the Oakland Raiders 27-35.
That's just about all I have to say about that.
San Diego special teams.... really? No, it wouldn't be enough to give up one blocked punt. Just for good measure, it would be better to allow 2 blocked punts. How can this happen? I've tried to think of excuses for them, but nothing can explain why this can happen. It's just embarrassing.
Not only did the Chargers special teams try to lose the game, but the Chargers offense decided to jump in on the action, as well. Not only would the offense fumble the ball on the Oakland 1 yard line, they also gave up a strip sack at the end of the game that would be picked up by T Branch and run for the game winning touchdown.
3 lost fumbles, 2 blocked punts, 1 embarrassing loss to the Raiders.
Solid ideas, San Diego.
Let's come back to the lambasting of the Chargers in a few minutes. For a moment, I'd like to tip my heat to the San Diego defense. Not only did they allow only 19 points and 279 yards, they did so with Shawne Merriman, Jyles Tucker, Larry English, and Brandon Siler out with injury. All of them are linebackers. Essentially, they are playing with an entire linebacking corp of backups. Too bad the offense and special teams gave the game away.
The Chargers have signed wide receiver Richard Goodman from their practice squad to their active roster and not a moment too soon. Although Richard Goodman will likely sit the bench when the offense is on the field, he was brought up in an attempt to help out the special teams. In preseason, he played well as a kick returner and on kick coverage.
They better hope it works. They have given up two kick returns for a touchdown and one punt return for touchdown. Let's not forget the two blocked punts in Oakland, either. The Chargers need all the help they can get on special teams.
Also announced was the signing of Marcus McNeill. On Monday he signed a five year contract extension that will be tacked on to his one year, $630,000 tender that he accepted in September. Marcus McNeill will be a charger through 2015.
The Chargers officially activated McNeill on Monday. He will play against St. Louis.
The San Diego Chargers will take on the St. Louis Rams (2-3).
If I told you 6 months ago that the Rams and Chargers would have the same record after five weeks, you'd probably laugh at me and throw rocks. Well, it happened, although I can't honestly say that I predicted it. Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose.
Anyways, this game will come down to turnovers, once again. The Rams are not as good as the Chargers. I think we can safely say that. However, the Chargers have proven time and again that they are willing to throw away a game at any moment with special teams woes or turnovers. Despite being ranked first in a bunch of categories (first downs per game, total yardage, passing touchdowns, and yards per play) and second in numerous others (time of possession and points per game).... they have 2 wins and 3 losses.
The reason is because the Chargers have 13 turnovers in 5 games. In each loss, they have had more than 3 turnovers (3 against the Raiders, 3 against the Chiefs, and 4 against the Seahawks). So, 10 turnovers in their 3 losses (3.333 turnovers per game) and 3 turnovers in their 2 wins (1.5 turnovers per game).
If they turn the ball over 3 or more times, expect a loss.
My Take on the Chargers
Like I said last week, the Chargers are hard to figure out. They are statistically one of the best teams in football, but they turn the ball over at the worst time possible. Yes, the Chargers do some very good things and put up a ton of yards. However, bad plays cancel out good plays... especially when they're really bad plays... and especially if those plays turn the ball over to the other team... and especially if that change of possession yields points in the other direction.
The Chargers have a lot of bad plays. Until they can figure things out and hold on to the ball, they are going to continue to have terrible losses against sub-par opponents such as the Raiders.
The Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders beat the San Diego Chargers 35-27.
The Raiders did a great job turning the Chargers' mistakes into points in the other direction. We've talked already about how the Chargers squandered opportunities, but if it wasn't for the Raiders picking up the ball and doing something with it, the Chargers still would have won.
Which leads me to another heralded rant...
The Best Team Doesn't Always Win?
You know the expression "the best team doesn't always win"? Well, I don't subscribe to that idea, at all. The best team always wins. Granted, the team that wins isn't always the team with the better record or the team that has better stats or even the team that has more "franchise players". The team that wins is the team with the most points on the scoreboard as time expires.
I say that because I have heard "the best team doesn't always win" a lot in the past few days. The people who say this are apologists. Plain and simple. To make themselves feel better, Chargers apologists may say something like "well, if we didn't have a thousand turnovers, we'd win" or "if we didn't have an awful special teams, we'd win".
To that, I would say, "Yeah... well... they do commit a lot of turnovers and they do have an awful special teams. No 'ifs" about it".
But KB... if you take away the two blocked punts....
We're not going to take away anything. Don't cheapen the Raiders win or the Chargers loss. They happened. The Raiders won, so I tip my cap to them. Unfortunately for the Raiders and their fans, however, not every team in the NFL will gift wrap a game for them like this past week against the Chargers. Don't get used to it.
After protecting the legitimacy of the Raiders, I need to go shower, but it had to be done.
The Raiders will face the San Francisco 49ers (0-5) in San Francisco.
Despite the 49ers being winless, they are 7 point favorites according to the lines. That's interesting, considering the 49ers are 30th in the NFL in rushing offense and 31st in points per game.
Oh well, it is what it is. The 49ers are statistically terrible but they play good teams fairly close. They lost by 3 points or less to the Saints, Eagles, and Falcons. I think that they (much like the Cincinnati Bengals) have most of the pieces, but they just haven't found a way to put it together. Frank Gore isn't a bad running back and Vernon Davis is one of the best in the league. Despite that, they are winless. They'll, no doubt, be looking to beat up on the Raiders (who may be without Darren McFadden, again) to get their first win of the season.
My Take on the Raiders
The Raiders are still the Raiders. Obviously, I have no idea how to pick their games. I have picked their game incorrectly for 4 consecutive weeks. Perhaps I was too early to stick a fork in them after they were 1-3. Who knew that the Chargers were going to bring the Raiders back into the AFC West picture? I sure didn't.
A win against the winless 49ers will put them at 3-3. To be honest, I didn't expect them to be sitting at .500 after 6 weeks. I reserve judgement this week because it's tough to see what the Raiders really are when they're facing a Chargers team that can't hold on to the ball. Will we be able to use the winless 49ers as a measuring stick this week? We'll see.
There is your weekly look at the rest of the AFC West....