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The Rest of the West - Week 8

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Well, that certainly wasn't the Sunday that I was hoping for. The Broncos were beaten badly and the word "badly" is probably a huge understatement. The Chiefs won against the poor Jacksonville Jaguars run defense and the Chargers were beaten by Mr. Tom Brady, himself. If you look at 2009's AFC West standings, it is completely upside down. San Diego was on top, Denver was second, Oakland was third and Kansas City was last.

According to the table, below, you can see for yourself that in 2010, things are certainly different than they were in 2009.

Here are the AFC West Division Standings, as of week 6:

AFC West Standings

Kansas City 4 2 0 150 112
Oakland 3 4 0 179 165
Denver 2 5 0 138 199
San Diego 2 5 0 177 149

(updated 10.26.2010 at 6:42 PM EDT)


The Kansas City Chiefs


Last Week

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 42 - 20.

It was close for a long time, but a pick six by Derrick Johnson in the third quarter broke the game open and propelled the Chiefs to a 22 point victory. Believe me, though, it was a very competitive contest before then. The score was 21-20 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. The Chiefs were able to drive down the field and score to go up 28-20. The momentum shifted slightly toward the Chiefs, but nobody thought anything of it considering the back and forth nature of the game, to that point. After the pick six, though, the game was 100% in the Chiefs control. You could just feel the Jaguars panicking afterwards. In fact, the Jaguars never scored again, while the Chiefs put up 14 fourth quarter points.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback, Todd Bouman played pretty solid football, for the first three quarters. Before throwing the costly third quarter pick, he made one of the most impressive plays of the day when he lobbed a touchdown pass to  Maurice Jones-Drew.  He was being pressured from the right side and, with traffic in his face, was still able to identify a mismatch with Maurice Jones-Drew being defended by Mike Vrabel. Bouman floated a pass down the right sideline and hit Maurice Jones-Drew in stride before the safety help could get there. Todd Bouman went 3 for 4 on that touchdown drive and what surprised me was how easily the Jaguars were able to drive down the field on that possession. It was an incredible drive for the Jags.

Thomas Jones, you have to be more careful with the ball. Twice in the second quarter you extended the ball toward the goal line and twice you lost the ball. Fortunately for yourself and your team and the fans, you were down by contact on the first instance and across the goal line already on the second instance. Regardless, that's dangerous mishandling of the ball and you are too experienced to not know that, already.


Pass Interference

At the end of the second quarter, the Chiefs dodged a huge bullet after a very bad penalty. A pass interference penalty was called on a 3rd and 10 from the 19 yard line. That set up a first and goal from the Chiefs 1 yard line. There was moaning and groaning from the crowd, but it was quite obvious that Brandon Carr did not attempt to locate the ball in flight. I don't care who you are, you are going to get called for pass interference whenever you make contact with the receiver and don't look back for the ball. Sure, there was pushing and shoving from wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker, as well, but if the defender doesn't look for the ball then the offensive player will get the benefit of the doubt. Whether that's right or wrong, is not for me to decide. Take it up with the NFL. Fortunately, the Chiefs didn't get burned by allowing a touchdown, but it did allow the Jags to take the clock the rest of the way down before kicking a field goal. 


Eric Berry also was called for pass interference. That one wasn't as clear to this armchair quarterback. Berry did look like he was trying to find the ball, but the way he ran into the receiver made the ref pull out the hankie. There wasn't as much pushing back and forth, but Berry flew in as the ball was in the air, made a bit of contact and looked up for the ball. I still think the ref made the right call just because that bump while the ball was in the air did look like it delayed the receiver's route ever so slightly. It was another big play in this game that didn't go the way of the Chiefs.


Dwayne Bowe made an outstanding effort to get into the end zone at the beginning of the third quarter. He blew by the blown Jacksonville coverage and, despite the short throw by Cassel, he was able to break a few tackles and put some points on the board. Cassel certainly could have made Bowe's life a lot easier if he made a perfect throw over his shoulder, but then again, many quarterbacks say that the hardest throw to make is to a receiver who is wide open. Fortunately for the Chiefs, this throw resulted in a touchdown. Outstanding effort by Bowe. 


This Week

The Chiefs will take on the Buffalo Bills (0-6) at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

The easy schedule just gets easier. The Chiefs will play a Buffalo Bills team who is the only club in the NFL that has yet to notch a victory. However, last week the Bills almost beat the Baltimore Ravens. The game went into overtime and the Ravens won 37-34 after hitting a game-winning field goal.

So, are the Bills due? Perhaps, but they need to be very concerned about their 32nd ranked rushing defense. That wasn't a typo. They are last in run defense. The Chiefs are number 1 in rushing offense. 

I ain't no jeanyus, but I know that can't bode well for the Bills. If they can't, at least, slow down the Chiefs running game then this will be a blowout.


My Take on the Chiefs

They have the pieces. The running game is there. The defense is there. Their efficiency is starting to improve and they (most importantly) aren't turning the ball over. I was shocked to find that the Chiefs have only 4 turnovers this season. They may as well change their team name to the anti-Chargers...

Anyways, I am man enough to admit when I was wrong. I've been hard on the Chiefs all season long, but they're starting to show me that they are a force to be reckoned with. Not many teams in this league will be able to stop their running game and that will take them a long way. I still think that this isn't a top 10 team in the NFL, but they will still make the playoffs with their easy schedule and strong running game.

On a side note, Dwayne Bowe is starting to come alive and Tony Moeaki is becoming very dangerous as a receiving tight end. Special things could be on the horizon for both. Man, I hope I'm wrong.


The San Diego Chargers


Last week

The San Diego Chargers lost to the New England Patriots 23-20.

Last week, I mentioned that...

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.

Here's a fun ranking that I didn't show you last week. The Chargers have 12 fumbles the season, more than every team in the National Football League. In the game against the Patriots, turnovers played a huge factor. The Chargers turned the ball over 4 times, all of which were in the first half.

At halftime, the Chargers were very fortunate to be down by only 10 points. The Chargers defense kept them alive. In the first half, the Chargers held the Patriots to only 38 offensive yards. It's all the more impressive when realizing that they have lost all their starting linebackers due to injury. Antwan Barnes really stood out to me when watching the game on my DVR. He seems tiny, but the ease in which he can push towards the quarterback is just outstanding. He reminds me of Elvis Dumervil without the wingspan. The depth at the linebacker position in San Diego really leaves me yearning for more from our Denver Broncos' roster.


College Completion... Professional Fumble

Undrafted rookie wide receiver Richard Goodman put the ball on the ground in the first quarter. It wasn't because of a jarring hit from a Patriot defender. No, he actually placed it on the ground, himself.

After recording his first reception as a professional football player, he found himself laying face down because it was a diving catch. He then channeled his college football subconscious, figured the play was over, got up to one knee, put the ball on the ground and made a gesture for a first down.

Meanwhile, a Patriot defender came in and scooped up the loose football.

Normally, I'd spout off about how boneheaded a play that was. However, I think he's heard enough slander from MSM segments such as "C'mon Man" and the like. Instead, I'd like to ask the question "Why?".

Why does college football and pro football need to be so different? It's crazy confusing to these players (and fans). A pro football player is denounced if he only gets one foot in bounds on an important 3rd down play. A college player earns a reception for that. At the end of a college football game, there is a stoppage of play or a first down. At the end of a pro football game, the clock ticks unless you have an incompletion, call a timeout or run out of bounds.

It's crazy confusing.

Now, let me be clear. I am not going to discuss the difference in BCS and NFL playoffs. I'm not even going to discuss the difference in salary caps and scholarships. The can of worms can be opened for each of those discussions on a different day.

I'm just talking about the final product. What do you see on the football field, on your television or the internet?

To me, there's just a lot of inconsistency. Obviously, the inconsistencies are hard to adjust to after you graduate college and enter the NFL. Richard Goodman proved this. Wouldn't it be nice if the NCAA and NFL had the same rules? If anything, it would be nice to have one universal law that dictates what constitutes a catch and whether or not a player must be tagged down by contact.

So, why can't the NFL and NCAA get on the same page? Is it money?.... 

I couldn't think of any other plausible answers...


This Week

The San Diego Chargers will take on the Tennessee Titans (5-2) at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

The Titans should lose, statistically. Of course, this seems to be a common trait of San Diego opponents. Will the Titans lose? I'm not sure. I think they've got as good a shot as any team in beating the Chargers. Last week, Kenny Britt put up ridiculous numbers. He had 225 yards and 3 receiving touchdowns in a 37-19 win against the Eagles. Despite the Titans possessing the 29th ranked passing defense, they were very effective with Kerry Collins at quarterback against the Eagles.

The Chargers will have an interesting challenge this week. The Titans are an amoeba offense. With Vince Young at quarterback, you have to account for his legs and make sure that you contain him in the pocket. With Kerry Collins, the game plan completely changes. His arm is more accurate and he has the veteran experience that allows him to have a better understanding of defensive schemes. In turn, he makes fewer mistakes.

In the end, it's going to depend on what the Chargers do. If they have to play against the Titans and themselves, they will lose on Sunday.


My Take on the Chargers

Turnovers are killing them. Of all the teams I have seen in my comparatively short life, I have never seen a team that has been their own worst enemy more than the 2010 San Diego Chargers. What in the world is going on? Do they rub butter on the football before their offense steps on the field? I counted 3 lost fumbles and an interception. But on top of those numbers, I took mental note and counted 1 Philip Rivers mishandled snap and 2 dropped passes on top of those turnovers. 

That is why they are losing games, folks. Numbers are grand, just ask Jay Cutler. However, winning games is paramount in the NFL and you can't win games when you bumble, stumble and fumble your way through a football game. They have the talent to be a 12 win team, but if you throw in the mental mistakes and turnovers, you are looking at a 4 to 5 win football team. As long as those 2 or 3 wins don't come during their two games against the Broncos, I'll be completely fine with it.



The Oakland Raiders


Last Week

The Raiders lost to beat the Denver Broncos 59-14.

What an ugly game for the Broncos. As the Raiders put their 21st point on the board with about 10 minutes left in the first quarter, the Broncos had shown that they weren't up to the task. It was ugly. The Raiders simply outplayed the Broncos, putting up 3 touchdowns in the first 5 minutes of the game. 

 Suffice it to say that the Raiders took advantage of the Broncos early mistakes and then kicked the Broncos while they were down.

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.

I was clearly wrong. The Broncos didn't do much of anything, but it's hard to get motivated for a game that you essentially begin with a 3 score deficit. They didn't play early and couldn't dig themselves out of the hole. Giving up scores at the beginning like that is just demoralizing for a football team and a young team like this doesn't have the mental toughness to come back from something like that.

The Broncos will get there, though. It will take time, though. In a world of "now", this may not be fun to hear (and will likely be rejected by many who are enveloped in a world of "now"), but it is what it is. The youngest offensive line in football and a defense that is riddled with injury doesn't bode well for immediate success. Long term success is a different issue, though, and much more plausible.

Alright, I'm done thinking about the Raiders game. We have analyzed it enough, so let's put it in the past and move on to next week.

This Week

The Oakland Raiders will play the Seattle Seahawks (4-2) at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland.

The Seahawks are leading the NFC West, right now. Their two losses came at the hands of the Broncos and the Rams.. They have beaten the Bears, Chargers, 49ers and Cardinals. So, half of their wins game against division opponents and the other half came from teams that are consistently inconsistent.... whatever that means.

Anyways, the Seattle Seahawks are statistically below average. Their passing offense is 20th, their rushing offense is 24th and their pass defense is 29th in the NFL. The only outstanding statistic that they have is rush defense in which they are 2nd in the NFL, allowing 77.5 yards per game.

The Raiders, on the other hand, are 3rd in the NFL in rushing (158.4 yards per game). Of course, 328 of those rushing yards came last week against the Broncos. Regardless, the outcome of this game will be decided in the trenches. Something has to give. If the Raiders number 3 ranked rushing offense can beat up the Seahawks' number 2 ranked rushing defense, the Raiders will win. If not, it could be a long day for the Raiders.


My Take on the Raiders

Oakland was handed the game in San Diego and then won by 45 points against the Broncos. Are they legit or are they a function of an ordinary team being handed extraordinary opportunities to succeed by some inconsistent opponents? I think that the truth is somewhere in the middle. 

I guess that when I said...

We can stick a fork in them.

...I forgot to account for the fact that the Raiders play in the AFC West, where anything is possible. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait a few more weeks before we can stick forks into the Raiders. Oh, how I yearn for that day...




There was your weekly look at the rest of the AFC West.... Could I interest you in a spot of tea, perchance? 

Go Broncos!