The Rest of the West - Week 5

SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 03: Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Qualcomm Stadium on October 3 2010 in San Diego California. The Chargers defeated the Cardinals 41-10. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Usually this segment takes place on a Tuesday or Wednesday, but since arriving home from the Broncos vs Titans game, I have had Broncos on the brain and the Rest of the West was put on the back burner while I wrote about something much more important... the Broncos game, of course.

Rest assured, though. You don't have to look far for your AFC West updates. At Mile High Report, we will still hook you up so that you'll never have to go through the agony of watching a Raiders game. I suffered through all 60 minutes of it... You're welcome.

With that said, let's get down to business, shall we?

The Broncos and Chargers were both victorious last week, while the Raiders did their normal thing (losing, for those of you that haven't been around for a few years).  The Chiefs got a week off. To be honest, I think a week 4 bye is way too early. A break after 3 games? If anything can break momentum, it's a bye week... or Peyton Manning.

The AFC West Division Standings are as follows:

Kansas City Chiefs 3-0
Denver Broncos 2-2
San Diego Chargers 2-2
Oakland Raiders 1-3

It's starting to look a bit more like what I expected during the preseason, but Kansas City is still a surprise to me sitting atop the division with 3 wins. For a more in-depth look at the teams, follow me after the jump.

 

The Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs_medium 

Last Week

The Chiefs had a bye in week 4.

We have seen the bye hurt or help teams throughout the years. Many times a team with injuries can use the bye to heal up and get an extra week to recover. 

The Chiefs have no major injuries to speak of.

Other times, a team can use the bye to regroup after a string of losses. Maybe they can bring in a free agent to help them out with a certain part of the game that they may be struggling with. Some even switch up their gameplan a bit and decide to attack teams a different way.

The Chiefs haven't lost yet.

Worse than any of the aforementioned things is when a team gets a bye after winning a string of games. Something happens during the week that makes said team lose their momentum. Needless, to say, there is  lot at stake for the Chiefs, namely proving that they are real.

 

This Week

The Chiefs will travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Indianapolis Colts (2-2). They will play the Colts and they will lose.

It's that simple. If you wish to go into specifics, then we shall. The key to this game will be third down efficiency.

The Colts will have an advantage, for sure. They are ranked 2nd in the league in passing yards, 3rd in the league in total yards and 2nd in points. Not to mention that they're 21 for 47 (45%) on third downs. 

The Chiefs are 13 for 40 (32%) on third down after playing the San Francisco 49ers. 7 of those conversions came against the 49ers. Why did I throw that qualifier in there? Well, it's because... they're the 49ers. That should be explanation enough.

The Chiefs are 27th in passing yards, 3rd in rushing yards, 18th in total yards and 10th in points (largely due to their eternal beat down on the 49ers. I give them full credit for that one. They did do a fantastic job of destroying a winless team.

Apart from that, the Chiefs have been very 20th to 25th... ish.

 

My Take on the Chiefs

Two weeks ago, I said....

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.

I will stick with it and go one step further. They won't be 4-0. You'll see a loss to the Colts.

They are still the only undefeated team in the league, but I still think they are probably the 20th or 25th best team in the league (I just know that the guys at Arrowhead Pride are going to love hearing that.) I just don't see how you can be top half in the league with absolutely no third down efficiency, zero passing game, and an average defense. Their special teams looks good, but against Peyton Manning the only way you'll get the ball in the hands of your returners is if you allow a TD and force the Colts to kickoff. That's a recipe for a loss unless you return every kickoff for a TD and hope for a turnover that goes for a touchdown.

That's unlikely. Chiefs will be 3-1. 

 

 

The San Diego Chargers

Chargers_medium 

Last week

The Chargers beat the Arizona Cardinals 41-10. It didn't even feel that it was that close, to be honest.

The Chargers had this one from the start. There was just a bit of doubt when the score was tied 7-7 after the Cardinals tied it up with a Kerry Rhodes 42 yard fumble return for a touchdown. Darren Sproles coughed it up after Greg Toler put his hat on the ball during a pitch to the left out of the shotgun formation.

Other than that, the Chargers dominated. They almost quadrupled the amount of total yards that the Cardinals had (419 134). The Chargers were 5 for 10 (50%) on third down, while the Cardinals were only 4 for 12 (33%) on third down. 

The player of the day had to be Antonio Gates. He had 7 receptions for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also put his name in the record books becoming the 7th tight end to ever reach 500 career receptions. Let's face it. This guy is tough to stop.... And that, folks, was the understatement of the year.

The running game looked pretty solid, as well. Between only Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews (there were other less notable Chargers with rushing yardage), the Chargers had 155 yards and 2 touchdowns. That's a pretty solid day for a rushing duo. Mathews didn't fumble, which has to be a plus if you're a Charger fan. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, Sproles coughed one up as he rushed 6 times for 17 yards. It's a good thing the Chargers had Tolbert and Mathews because it clearly wasn't a good day for Sproles. 

 

Injuries

Injuries continue to plague Chargers linebackers. Last week I said....

Larry English and the Chargers got some less than good news this week. Larry English had surgery on his foot according to NFL.com and will miss an undisclosed amount of time. 

With Shaun Merriman already being sidelined with an Achilles injury and calf strain, the Chargers are already looking for linebackers to step up and fill the void. Look for guys like Antwan Applewhite and Jyles Tucker to be called upon to make plays.

Well, Jyles Tucker was put on injured reserve yesterday after suffering a torn pectoral muscle. That's the same injury that our very own Elvis Dumervil suffered. The Chargers, after hearing this news, have signed outside linebacker Cyril Obiozor from the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad. In addition to that, they also signed cornerback Dante Hughes.

The Chargers cannot afford to have any more injuries. They are just too thin, at this point, to make up for many more setbacks.

 

This week

The Chargers will take on the Oakland Raiders (1-3) in Oakland.

The Chargers are 1st in total yards, 3rd in pass yards, 10th in rushing yards, and 3rd in points. The Raiders.... aren't. We'll get into that later, but what you do need to know is that the Chargers are going to have to play like the good Chargers, not the turnover prone, special teams inept Chargers. If they have another 5 turnover game like they did against Seattle, they will lose.... even to the Raiders.

Well, that is if the Raiders don't cough up 5 turnovers of their own, which isn't entirely out of the question.

 

My Take on the Chargers

They look for real again. Capriciousness, thy name is Charger.

After having a 5 turnovers in week 3, the Chargers put the pedal to the floor in week 4 and won. Will the ugly Chargers show up? Will the preseason champion Chargers show up? I don't know. They are either really good or really bad. Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Rivers... I couldn't put it the other way around because Philip Rivers would scare me to death if he were my doctor.

 

 

The Oakland Raiders

Raiders_medium

Last Week

The Raiders lost to the Houston Texans 31-24.

I have to be the dumbest person in the world. I picked the Raiders to win last week, despite saying (in last week's "The Rest of the West")...

The one time that I say that the Raiders will be successful, they lose. Maybe I should pick them more often? What say you, MHR?

Well, I picked them again and they lost again. Yes, I like to see the Raiders lose, but I absolutely cannot stand being the only person on staff to pick the Raiders and then have them lose. Believe me when I say... that's the last time I'm going out on a limb for the Raiders this season. I will not be duped again.

The Raiders were struggling to stop the run. I was smart enough to DVR the game so I could watch it again and it didn't look any better the second time around. The Raiders defense can be had. Sometimes they'll overpursue, like you see on the first touchdown run by the Texans (which was a counter play). They can also just be blown out of the running lane like you see on the 74 yard Arian Foster TD run, which was just an iso to the right side. Nothing fancy, at all. 

The turnovers have to stop. Bruce Gradkowski threw two interceptions. Beyond that, he fumbled it twice (losing only one of them to the Texans). I'll go one step further than the stat line here, though. The Raiders pass rush is... bad. They are the reason for all 3 turnovers and the other fumble that was recovered by Daniel Loper. Gradkowski has no time to take 3 reads. He has one read down field and then he has to dump it off. That's all that the offensive line will give him. Anything beyond that time results in a sack, strip-sack, or lofting up an interception.

When the pocket collapses and Gradkowski takes off with the football, he has to slide. He just has to slide... By that, I mean that the guy got blown up with 9:06 left in the second quarter. You're gonna get killed running out of the pocket and taking on strong safety Bernard Pollard. Seriously... just don't do it. If you respect your body, you will slide.

With that said.... SLIDE WHEN YOU'RE RUNNING OUT OF THE POCKET FOR A SECOND TIME, AS WELL!!!!

Golly... as if once weren't enough. With 10:56 left in the 3rd quarter, Gradkowski ran to the right, cut up field and was, once again, blasted by Bernard Pollard. If Gradkowski keeps doing this and goes down, the Raiders will be forced to go with another below average quarterback, Jason Campbell, and nobody in Raider wants that, I'm sure.

The bright spot of the Raiders offense was Zach Miller. He looked great, catching 11 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. He was their leading receiver on Sunday and could not be denied. Of course, we talked last week about the Texans defense when I wrote...

The Texans are one of three teams in the NFL that have not recorded an interception. They also are the worst pass defense in the league, allowing 369 passing yards per game. Keeping their poor pass defense in mind, they decided to sign safety Bernard Pollard and Karl Paymah this week.

This should be a pretty interesting matchup. If the Raiders can't pass on the Texans, then there is something wrong with them. 

It's not surprising that the Raiders had their best passing day of the season. With that said, throwing 2 INTs in a game to a team that hadn't recorded even 1 INT in 3 games is a bit disheartening if you're a Raider fan. Again, it goes back to the pass protection. It's bad. It's really bad. The two picks weren't the offensive line's, though. Gradkowski threw into double coverage and it was tipped and picked off in the third quarter. It was just a poor decision by the quarterback. In the fourth quarter, the ball went in and out of Louis Murphy's hands and was intercepted.

 


This Week

The Raiders will face the San Diego Chargers (2-2).

The Raiders have lost 13 straight games to the Chargers. Here is what LB Sam Williams said about losing to the Chargers 13 times in a row.

We don’t like it. We don’t like the Chargers at all. We don’t like anything about them. We don’t like them, so we’re going to end this streak. That’s our goal . . . it’s something about the Chargers, San Diego and the Raiders that don’t mix.

I love divisional games. They help shape the division standings and put teams in their place. In this case, I think the Chargers are going to put the Raiders firmly where they belong. The basement of the division.

 

My Take on the Raiders

Last week I said

With a loss this week, you can stick a fork in them.

I still feel comfortable with that statement. I think we can go ahead and stick a fork in them. We're only a quarter of the way through the season, but they are on pace for a 4 win season, as it stands. I think that sounds about right, too. They just don't look like an 8 win team. I expect the struggles to continue, especially if they can't find a run defense. Giving up 249 yards rushing to the Texans just won't cut it.

 

 

There is your weekly look at the rest of the AFC West.... slide Bruce Gradkowski... just slide.

Go Broncos!

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