I missed the AFC West games on Sunday because I was out of town. Unfortunately, I had to go back and watch them so I could write this post. Every one of the games ended with an AFC West team walking away with a loss. Worse still, that included the Broncos.
There is one positive that the AFC West teams can take away from this week, though. Nobody lost ground and the division title is still up in the air.
Here are the AFC West Division Standings, as of week 6:
That looks strikingly similar to last week, doesn't it?
In week 6, the Chiefs defense just laid an egg, the Chargers got outplayed by the Rams and the Raiders played like.... well... the Raiders. We'll get into all of this later (in more detail, as well), but in short they were just bad. Now, before you jump into the Rest of the West, I've got some homework for you. Check out the article "How the AFC West Can Be Won: Tough Schedule Means Broncos Have Hope".
It is a great article for you to read before the jump, regarding strength of schedule. It will help you to get into the right mindset and give you some big picture perspective. I think you'll find it both enlightening and thought provoking.
Now, let's get started and take a bleak, dismal, and demoralizing look at the Rest of the West.
The Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Houston Texans 31-35.
The Texans, going into week 6, were the worst team in football defending the pass. Matt Cassel took advantage of it and threw 3 touchdowns. The crazy part is that the running game had more yards than the passing game.
The sad part is that they ran for 238 rushing yards and lost. Oh well. Stuff happens. Since we're on the subject, let me pile on the bad news and tell you that in the history of the NFL, a road team that allowed more passing yards than they earned, allowed more rushing yards than they earned, and committed more penalties than the opposition has a combined record of 3 and 121. The Jets became the 4th team to win. As Broncos fans, let's take a collective sigh while we move on to more Chiefs analysis... (sigh)...
Anyways, how could the Chiefs lose the game? You're up by 10 with 8 minutes left and your running game has put up over 200 yards, already. The defense has to do their job. The Houston Texans scored a touchdown on all of their final four drives of the football game. Does that blow your mind? It should.
Last week the Chiefs defense was praised for slowing down Peyton Manning, but this week they allow Matt Schaub to complete 76% of his passes for 305 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Chiefs let them walk back into this game. Despite being up by 7 at halftime and 10 going into the 4th quarter, they lost. Why? Because of their defense.
For the first time, the Chiefs were over 50% (with 56%) on third downs, but their defense allowed the Texans to convert 50%, as well. They were just getting torched in the fourth quarter, though. The Chiefs defense allowed 222 net yards in the fourth quarter alone. That is unacceptable. It's no surprise they lost this game with a fourth quarter like that.
They take on the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
"Not the night we were looking for. We turned it over four times, lost our quarterback.... Not the kind of night we wanted to have."
- Jaguars Head Coach, Jack Del Rio
That about sums it up. The Jaguars have to establish the running game against the Chiefs to stay in the game, especially if David Garrard can't play. It's going to be very interesting to see how this game plays out. The Chiefs are 5th in the NFL in rushing defense (allowing only 90 yards per game), while the Jags are 6th in the NFL in rushing yards (135 yards per game).
The Jaguars defense, on the other hand, is just awful. They are ranked 28th in passing yards allowed and 20th in rushing yards allowed. The Chiefs are likely to run the ball consistently during the contest.
The Jaguars will also be the Chiefs' third consecutive AFC South foe. Will the Chiefs be able to amass at least one win against that division? We'll see on Sunday, I guess... or week 16 against the Titans. Time will tell.
Another loss and the Chiefs will be 3-3. They are finally coming back to earth.
My Take on the Chiefs
They're still sitting atop the AFC West divisional standings. The stat that matters most is wins and losses. With that said, I don't think they'll stay atop the division for the whole season.
Many are going to point the finger at Todd Haley for the loss on Sunday, which I can somewhat disagree with. Calling 2 passing plays on the second to last drive (a three and out) is a head scratching decision when the stats show that you've run for over 200 yards already. With that said, no matter what the play call, the players have to execute. The Chiefs just didn't execute in the fourth quarter. You have to be able to get a first down when you have the lead at the end of the game and your opponent is trying to get the ball back with some time on the clock.
With the defense as bad as it was in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs offense had to take over. It didn't do that. You have to keep a drive alive. That's why I've been preaching third down conversions for the past 7 weeks. Keeping drives alive is where you earn your money in the NFL. You have to keep your offense on the field at the end of the game, scoring points and your defense on the bench, drinking lemonade and watching SpongeBob Squarepants.
21 fourth quarter points allowed is unacceptable.
The San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers lost to the St. Louis Rams 20-17.
The Rams are a very interesting team. They have given up over 20 points only one time this season (44 to the Detroit Lions). That's pretty impressive, if you ask me. They are 3-3, right now, which is extremely surprising. Many people were just hoping that they'd get more wins than last season, but now they are right in the mix for an NFC West title.
On the flip side, the Chargers are struggling. Last week, I said...
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.
I was wrong. This past week marks the first time in the 2010 season that the Chargers have lost a game while giving up fewer than 3 turnovers. So... um.... congratulations?
The Chargers defy football logic. They are top ten in just about everything, yet they have 2 wins and 4 losses. What is the deal? For once, I'll spare you the stats unless you want to follow the link. Just trust me when I say that the Chargers stats are good. They are really good. The win column doesn't show it, at all, but if games were won and lost on paper, the Chargers would have 37 wins already.
I guess that's why you play the game.
Junior Seau Released from Hospital
In case you weren't aware, already, Junior Seau drove his car off a cliff on Monday just hours after being released from jail, too. On Tuesday, he was released from the hospital.
Seau told investigators he fell asleep while driving, and police in Carlsbad, where the accident happened, said the lack of skid marks on the road support that assertion. They said there was no evidence drugs or alcohol were involved.
I'm just glad he's okay. I don't wish harm to fall upon anyone, even if they used to play against the Broncos. One thing I often struggle with is when people point fingers and make jokes about serious things such as this. At the end of the day, you have to realize that these are human beings we are talking about. These aren't just stories about characters; these are actual events that happen to real people.
As a person who likes to believe that I have a compassionate side, I just can't justify applauding a situation where a person was harmed. I don't care what he did in the past. Yes, he was fresh out of jail. Yes, he was in trouble for domestic violence, but did he deserve to plummet off of a cliff in his car because of it? Some of you may say yes, but that's not for me to decide. Whether he deserved it or not, I still wish him the best in his recovery. Do I condone bad behavior? No, but I won't apologize for wishing someone a speedy recovery.
The San Diego Chargers will take on the New England Patriots (4-1) at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
The Patriots are arguably the best team that the Chargers have faced this season (anyone want to make a case for the Chiefs, Jaguars, Seahawks, Cardinals, Raiders or Rams?). Statistically, the Patriots should lose this game.
The Chargers are ranked first in passing offense; the Patriots are 27th in passing defense.
The Chargers are ranked first in passing defense; the Patriots are 14th in passing offense
The Chargers are 6th in rushing defense; the Patriots are 12th in rushing offense.
The Chargers are 13th in rushing offense; the Patriots are 17th in rushing defense.
But the game isn't played on paper, as I'm sure you know by now. The Chargers should win, but they probably won't win, if recent history is any indication.
My Take on the Chargers
This team is very confusing. They rank near the top of the league in just about every category except for wins. Maybe we'll know more about them after they play the Patriots. I hope so, anyways. I hate being faced with a question that I can't answer, but patience is a virtue.
I should have been clearer. Patience is a virtue as long as your profession isn't football. The Chargers need urgency, right now. They can't just wait and hope that things work themselves out like I can. Their job is to fix the problems. My job is to watch and go "ohhhhhhhh, so that's what they are..."
Right now, I don't know what they are. If you think you do, please talk about it in the comments below. To me, I think they're a good football team disguised as a bad football team. They could, on the other hand, just be a bad football team. I guess, in a few weeks, we'll all find out together what the Chargers really are.
The Oakland Raiders
The Raiders lost to the San Francisco 49ers (1-5), by a score of 17-9.
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.
Well, the 49ers got their first win. The Raiders continue to be the Raiders. All is right with the world.
Campbell went 8 for 21 for 83 yards and two interceptions in the 17-9 loss to the 49ers on Sunday. His 10.7 passer rating is the worst for a Raiders quarterback since Ken Stabler posted a 9.9 against Cincinnati in 1975.
That's pretty interesting. It makes me feel really good about the upcoming game between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders, too.
Want to feel better about your life? Check out this drive summary by the Raiders.
38 yards - Field Goal
70 yards - Field Goal
0 yards - Interception
1 yard - Punt
3 yards -Punt
8 yards - Punt
-1 yard - End of Half
11 yards - Punt
-9 yards - Punt
55 yards - Field Goal
-4 yards - Punt
7 yards - Interception
Doesn't that just warm your heart? The Raiders had field goals on three drives. On every other drive, they had a three and out (including the 11 yard drive which was not a first down because of a holding call). That means the Raiders had - excuse me while I count out loud - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.... 8 three and outs. 8 of their 11 drives were three and outs.
Do I hear a motion to accept that the Raiders were pitiful against the niners? It really doesn't matter if there is motion to accept this knowledge. It carries anyways because the Raiders really were that pitiful against the niners. Moving on...
The Raiders will face the Denver Broncos (2-4) at Mile High Stadium in beautiful Denver, Colorado.
Finally, the Broncos will play another AFC West team. For the Broncos, this game couldn't come at a better time. If you're a Raiders fan, this game couldn't come at a worse time. The Raiders may have to start Kyle Boller, the third string quarterback. Bruce Gradkowski's status is still unknown because of the shoulder injury he sustained two weeks ago and Jason Campbell is still recovering from a sore knee that he sustained in the first half against San Francisco (Campbell did play the entire game against the 49ers, though).
Tom Cable, in his post game interview, said...
"He struggled with some things. There were times early in the game where I thought the protection around him was a little shaky but it seemed to improve as the game went. He did some nice things making plays with his feet. But at the same time you have to make some of those plays more often than what we're doing right now."
Despite dropping the last two games, I expect the Broncos to beat the Raiders. The Broncos should be able to throw on the Raiders8th ranked passing defense. Yes, they are top 10 in the league, but Kyle Orton won't be denied. He'll get his yards. In the running game, however, is where I think that the Broncos should attack first. The Raiders have the 30th ranked rushing defense in the NFL, allowing 149.5 rush yards per game. The Broncos could have a breakout game on the ground against this porous defense.
On the flip side of the ball, the Broncos have to continue to make the Oakland quarterback (whoever it ends up being) as uncomfortable as possible. The Raiders are 23rd in the NFL for passing yards and having quarterback injuries and ineptitude, at the same time, doesn't help their cause. The Broncos have to stop the run first and make the Raiders quarterback beat them through the air. The Raiders are 10th in the league on the ground, averaging 130.2 rushing yards per game.
Who will win the ground game? Broncos or Raiders?
My Take on the Raiders
Oakland... Oakland... Oakland...
We find ourselves in the "My take" section, once again. My take on the Raiders? This isn't going to be fun for most Raider fans to hear, but in all honesty, I think the Raiders are a 4 or 5 win team. I said it during preseason when people were drinking the "Raiders will be knocking on the door of the playoffs" Kool-Aid, but nobody would hear it. Will you hear me now?
The Raiders are through the easy part of their schedule (combined win percentage of .464). They now face the most difficult schedule in the AFC West (combined win percentage of .527). Have fun with that one, Al Davis. If you can't beat bad teams, how do you expect to beat good teams? Oh, excuse me, they can beat any team in the NFL if they are handed the game... (see Chargers, Week 5).
That is all.
There was your weekly look at the rest of the AFC West.... Anybody else cool with changing Chris Berman's famous "thuh raiduhs" to "Duh Raiders"?