The Rest of the AFC West - Week 4

What a difference a week makes. In week 2, all four AFC West teams were victorious but in week 3 only one AFC West team came away with a win. It was the Chiefs, once again, giving them a 2 game lead in the division.

So much for the whole "everyone needs to respect the AFC West because we are not the worst division in football" idea. Having half of the division getting smacked around by NFC West teams certainly won't earn us any more respect.

The AFC West Division Standings are as follows:

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

Considering what the standings looked like last year, these standings sure look upside down, don't they? 

The Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs_medium 

Last Week

The Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-10.

The 49ers remain win-less and are 0-3 for the first time since 2004. The Chiefs are 3-0 for the first time since 2003. 

How did the game come to a 31-10 conclusion? Last week, I said...

What really puts the 49ers behind the eight ball is their overall (offensive and defensive) play on third downs. On offense, the 49ers are 6/24 on 3rd down (25%). On defense, the 49ers allowed the opposition to convert 11 of 25 attempts (44%). Third downs will make a huge impact in this game. In two weeks, the Chiefs are 6 for 26 on 3rd down (23%). Whichever team can step up and make plays on third downs should win this game.... unless the chiefs can continue to make 1 or 2 big plays per game.

Well, during the game the Chiefs were 7 for 14 on 3rd down and the 49ers were 4 for 17. That definitely played it's part in the game. The Chiefs made good on their opportunities and the 49ers didn't.

That and the 5.3 yards per carry that the Chiefs acquired versus the 2.9 yards per carry that the 49ers put forth. The Chiefs ran for 207 yards while the 49ers ran for just 43. Clearly, the running games of the Chiefs and 49ers were on totally opposite ends of the spectrum. However, let us not forget that Matt Cassel threw 3 TDs for the first time as a Chief.

I haven't really mentioned any defenses so far this season on the Rest of the West, but the Chiefs deserve a shout out. They managed to sack Alex Smith five times on Sunday. That is more sacks than the Denver Broncos have had all season. 

Tony Moeaki made an outstanding touchdown catch during the game on Sunday. I encourage you to look up that video if you haven't seen it. I won't try and describe it because my words will not do it justice.

What resulted was as lopsided win. The 49ers looked lost while the Chiefs looked good. 

 

This Week

In week 4, the Chiefs play... nobody. It's their bye week. It's pretty early for a bye week, don't you think? Of all the teams that I wish would play this week, it is the Chiefs. I can't get a good grasp on what they are. They are undefeated, sure, but I think that they are the shakiest undefeated team in the NFL.

 

My Take on the Chiefs

I've been getting a lot of flack lately from Chiefs fans. They feel like they get no respect from me, which is true to an extent. It seems like we pick on the Chiefs, but the truth is that I just don't have any confidence that they can win a game against a "real" team. The win-less Niners aren't exactly playoff contenders.

Remember in 2009 when the Denver Broncos beat the Cleveland Browns and everyone said "well, I half expected that because the Browns are just awful". To me, the 2010 49ers are like the 2009 Browns. People are not going to give the Chiefs any respect until they show that they can beat a solid football team without the help of a torrential downpour and a deafening home crowd.

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.

 

 

The San Diego Chargers

Chargers_medium 

Last week

The Chargers lost to the Seattle Seahawks 20-27.

Why was that, you wonder?

Well, I'm glad you asked. They turned the ball over 5 times. That's the bottom line. You just can't do that and expect to win the game. Philip Rivers threw 2 interceptions and the Chargers suffered fumbles from Legedu NaaneeMike Tolbert and Darren Sproles. Granted, they did force an interception from Matt Hasselbeck and a fumble from Deion Branch, but that still leaves the Chargers with a -3 in the turnover column. The Chargers have a total of 9 turnovers on the season. Three turnovers per game is a tough pill to swallow. 

Another tough pill to swallow is the two special teams touchdowns allowed. Leon Washington returned a 101 yard and 99 yard kickoff return touchdowns. This is yet another scary statistic for Charger fans. The Chargers have allowed a total of 4 Special Teams touchdowns in 3 games. That is 1.3333333333 special teams touchdowns allowed per game.

To make it as simple as you can: five turnovers... two special teams touchdowns, that's a recipe for a loss.

- Philip Rivers

Indeed, Philip Rivers. Indeed.

Despite all of that, the Chargers had a chance to take back the game in the fourth quarter. Down by a touchdown, the Chargers embarked on two separate drives in which they had a total of 8 plays inside the redzone with under 4 minutes in the game. With those 8 plays, they scored 0 points and had 1 interception and a turnover on downs. 

The Chargers have to pick it up. They can do this by holding on to the ball and kicking the ball out of bounds every time their special teams walks on the field. Trust me, they'd be better off giving the opposing team possession at the 40 yard line.


Injuries

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. Let's be honest, though. We know about foot surgeries and we know that it takes some time to fully return (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, even Ryan Harris). Larry English being out for an "undisclosed period of time" is not a good thing for the Chargers.

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.

In other news that is somewhat injury related, the Chargers signed Ethan Albright, their fourth long snapper of the season. That is because longsnapper David Binn was placed on injured reserve and the Chargers are searching far and wide for a quality longsnapper.  

With all this negativity, how about some positive Charger news? Right Guard Louis Vasquez will not need surgery on his knee, but he may miss a game or two, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Marcus McNeil just can't come back fast enough, can he?

Ryan Mathews is also recovering from his injury. He got in a solid workout on Monday.

They let me get after it today. It didn't hurt. I felt like my normal self.

-Ryan Mathews


This week

The Chargers will take on the Arizona Cardinals at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers will, once again, play a team that has faced an AFC West team the week prior (Oakland during week 3, we'll get to that in a bit).

The Arizona Cardinals have troubles of their own. In fact, I read an article that said the Cardinals were keeping Beanie Wells' arthroscopic knee surgery a secret... Hey you...Guess what? Beanie Wells had arthroscopic knee surgery. I guess the secret is out, now.

Am I taking crazy pills or something? We all know that fudging the injury report is commonplace in the NFL but come on. This is just crazy.

In other news, Cardinals wide receiver Steve Breaston will miss a few weeks after having knee surgery. He was injured in the loss against Oakland and will not play in San Diego this Sunday. This injury certainly can't help their offense. This team lacks identity and the last thing that they needed right now was their number 2 receiver to miss a few weeks with a knee injury. 

After all these injuries and their lack of identity, do I think that the Cardinals have a shot at the Chargers? Perhaps, but they are going to need turnovers and special teams touchdowns. The Chargers have shown that the way to beat him is by doing those things. The Cardinals could very well capitalize on the San Diego special teams. In fact, LaRod Stephens-Howling returned the opening kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown against the Raiders in week 3.

Wake up Chargers. The season started three and a half weeks ago.

 

 

My Take on the Chargers

 

The Chargers confuse me. They look very average right now, but judging from recent history it is impossible for me to disregard them already. They have had slow starts in the past few years but turned things around during week 4 or 5 en route to the playoffs. Will that be the case for them this season, as well? Maybe. Maybe not. They certainly better have some magic left if they want a sniff of the playoffs in 2010, though.

From what I can see, though, from the information in front of me (not speculating about the past and debating whether or not they will repeat history), the Chargers have some problems that they need to fix. The special teams issues won't just go away without some serious adjustments and the turnovers have to be concerning as well. If it weren't for those very large issues, this team could be 2-1 or 3-0 pretty easily. The problem, going forward, is whether or not the special teams and turnovers can be resolved. If things trend upwards, the Chargers should be fine. If things get worse or stand pat, the Chargers will have a draft pick in the top 10.

 

The Oakland Raiders

Raiders_medium

Last Week

The Raiders lost to the Arizona Cardinals 23-24.

Because of this, I think the Raiders should be successful against the Cardinals this week. Statistically, the Raiders are better. Since the Cardinals are still seraching for an identity on offense (and defense, really, since losing Karlos Dansby) the Raiders have a (dare I say?) better personnel in this match up.

That is what I said last week, leading up to the Arizona Cardinals game. Clearly, I was wrong. 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?

This game will, no doubt, be remembered for the Sebastian Janikowski miss at the end of regulation that would have given the Raiders a last second victory. The guy doesn't usually miss but no man is perfect. It happens. A 32 yard field goal is within his range and he is expected to make that 10 out of 10 times. Now, before we crucify the kicker, let's keep in mind that...

A. No man is perfect.

B. The Raiders had 60 minutes to outscore their opponent and wouldn't have needed to rely on their kicker if they executed better when they had the chance.

Their 11 penalties for 123 yards certainly didn't help, either. Then again, allowing LaRod Stephens-Howling to return the opening kickoff for a 102 yard touchdown didn't help their cause, either.

It was just one of those games where the Raiders found a way to lose the game. 

We lost the game in not doing more in the last 30 minutes to put ourselves in position to not have to go through all that. We left so many plays out there on the field offensively. The players, coaches, we would all tell you the same thing: one for five in the red zone is not good enough. It's totally unacceptable.

- Tom Cable

Yeah, that about sums it up.

 

This Week

The Raiders will face the Houston Texans (2-1).

On offense, the Texans are kind of a big deal and people know them. They are top ten in lots of offensive categories. They are 5th in rushing yards, 8th in passing yards, 4th in total yards and 7th in points. 

Defensively, it is a totally different story. 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. Then again, the Raiders' strength is their running game, so they may want to just pound the rock down the Texans' throats. I'll certainly be interested to see how they try to attack the Texans defense. Do they go with their own strength or adapt and attack the Texans' weakness?

Regardless of the way they attack the Texans, they better hope that it works. Being 1-3 after 4 weeks is a very deep hole, especially for a team that was expected by many - not me - to be a borderline playoff team.

 

My Take on the Raiders

Best of luck to them. The Raiders are the Raiders. Good running game, below average quarterback, average defense, and an overall average team. If you're going to bring me stats that say the Raiders are better than their opponent in yards, first downs, time of possession, rushing yards, passing yards and total plays... great. Yards, first downs, time of possession, rushing yards, passing yards, and total plays do not equal points.

The Raiders are not an efficient football team. If stats won games, then the Raiders may very well be a playoff team. Unfortunately for the Raiders and their fans, we live in reality. A playoff team, they are not. Sorry mainstream media, you whiffed on this one. With a loss this week, you can stick a fork in them.

 

 

There is your weekly look at the rest of the AFC West.

P.S. I'll be traveling to Nashville this Sunday to watch the Broncos vs Titans game. If you have suggestions for parking, tailgating or even a suggestion about where I should buy my lunch, shoot me an email or leave a comment in the section below.

Go Broncos!

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