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The Rest of the West - Week 3

In week 1, the Chiefs were the only team to score a victory and then the pundits began to scoff, saying that the "AFC West is the worst division in football. In week 2, the AFC West won all 4 games.

Can you believe it? All 4 AFC West teams scored a victory last week. That sure put a wrench into their theory, didn't it? Yes and no. Like I said last week, you can't expect to know everything about any given team from just one game. One game is too small a sample size. Since the AFC West was really good this week but really bad last week, it will take a few more games to determine how good the AFC West actually is.

With two games in the book, the AFC West is just as wide open as it was the week before. The Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) are still a game ahead of the Denver Broncos (1-1), San Diego Chargers (1-1), and Oakland Raiders (1-1). Just because they have an early lead doesn't mean they'll keep it. The season is young.



The Kansas City Chiefs


Last Week

The Chiefs beat the Browns 16-14. 

Yet again, the Chiefs bail themselves out with a big play and solid defense. The Chiefs were losing to the Browns at halftime... yes, the Browns. Despite Matt Cassel throwing 2 INTs and 0 TDs, the Chiefs pulled out a victory by scoring two field goals in the second half and holding the Browns offense scoreless in the same period of time. Of course, once again, it was the Browns. The same Browns who had 3 turnovers a week ago in a 17-14 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The chiefs did improve on their third down percentage quite a bit over week 1. They finished week 2 going 5 for 15 on third downs. The scary stat for Chiefs fans, though, is redzone percentage. Despite three trips into the redzone, the Chiefs came away with 0 TDs.

It's fortunate that the Chiefs were able to get that touchdown on defense because their offense and special teams were not working like they were in week 1. In fact, One week after setting a franchise record with 160 punt return yards, the Chiefs had 6 yards on 4 punt returns against the Browns.

A win is a win and the Chiefs are 2-0. That's the bottom line. However, I am staying away from the Chiefs bandwagon until their offense shows up. 


Um... Really?

Apparently, Shaun Smith grabbed Alex Mack in a very unappealing way. During the second quarter, Alex Mack accused Shaun Smith of grabbing his private parts. After the play, Mack chased Smith to the Chiefs sidelines before having to return to his own sideline so the punt team could take the field. He tried alerting the officials but to no avail.

"I don't think he should be able to do that. I'm still fired up about it."

-Alex Mack

Smith denies that the incident happened.

"I don't have no comment. I don't recall doing anything like that. I'm not known for being a dirty player or anything like that, so I don't know what that was all about."

-Shaun Smith

I have two things to say about this story.

First of all, Mack needs to wear a cup. Whether or not the action was intentional is unimportant. If Mack had fallen onto the ground but had a cup on and someone accidentally/intentionally stepped on his private parts, he would have been protected. Wearing a cup lessens the pain of both accidental AND intentional hits to the groin. Problem solved.

Secondly.... why?

Why would Shaun Smith feel the need to do that? Of all the unwritten rules in the unwritten rulebook, the unwritten rule of all unwritten rules is "don't hit a man below the belt". And in the famous words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I got to say about that."


This week

In week 3, the Chiefs play the winless San Francisco 49ers. Fresh off a Monday night loss to the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints, the niners are on a short week looking for a win. They aren't going to get one if Alex Smith continues to throw interceptions, though. Alex Smith has thrown 1 TD and 4 INTs so far into this season. The 49ers are ranked 25th in points.

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.


The San Diego Chargers


Last week

The Chargers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 38-13.

The Chargers game was blacked out, so the locals didn't get a chance to watch the game. The people who wanted to watch this game didn't miss much, though. It wasn't very close. 

The Jaguars had an abysmal performance and the Chargers played quite well. Philip Rivers had a decent day, throwing 22/29 for 330 yards,3 TDs and 2 INTs. Ryan Mathews was injured in the first quarter, so Mike Tolbert took the load and ran for 82 yards and 2 TDs.

Of course, the most important aspect of the game was turnovers. The Jaguars turned the ball over 6 times.

6 times.

David Garrard threw 4 INTs and there were lost fumbles from Maurice Jones-Drew and Mike Sims-Walker. 6 giveaways was the most of any team in week 2 besides the Tennessee Titans with 7. For the chargers, earning 6 turnovers is quite a leap from their whopping 0 takeaways in week 1. Of course, the Chargers gave the ball away 3 times, themselves, including 2 Philip Rivers interceptions. As far as turnovers are concerned, it was fairly sloppy for both sides.Jacksonville got the worse end of the deal, though.


Ryan Matthews

As alluded to earlier, Ryan Mathews suffered an injury in the first quarter. He sprained his right ankle and, according to Jason La Canfora, the injury appears minor. After being taken to the locker room for examination, Mathews actually came back onto the bench during the second quarter. 

I feel like I could have played, but they didn't want to risk it, so they sat me out.

- Ryan Mathews

If nothing changes between now and Sunday, Ryan Mathews will likely play. Nowhere have I found the injury to be very serious. Chargers fans can breathe a sigh of relief on the injury front.

Something that Chargers fans may want to worry a bit more about is Mathews play on the field. In two games, he has 0 TDs and 2 fumbles. 

We have some work with him to do in taking care of the football. I'm still not sure if it was a fumble or if it was not a fumble. I do know when you're young, guys go after you and they want to pull the ball away from you. He just has to continue to work to protect it.

- Norv Turner

This week

The Chargers will now travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks (1-1). Once again, they will play a team that is fresh off a battle with the Denver Broncos. The Seahawks looked solid against the 49ers, but they had some very costly redzone turnovers against the Broncos. 

The Seahawks and Chargers actually have something in common. Both teams looked solid during a week and sloppy in another. This apparent capricious nature raises several questions about the Chargers that should be answered on Sunday. What are the Chargers? Was week 1 an aberration or was week 2 an aberration? Are they typically a 6 turnover per game defense or a 0 turnover per game defense? Can Ryan Mathews turn things around and have some of the success that he was predicted to have? Will Vincent Jackson be traded to Minnesota like the rumors have indicated? 

For what it's worth, the Chargers have until 4 pm eastern on Wednesday to trade Vincent Jackson. That's assuming, of course, that the Chargers are going to make a trade, at all.


The Oakland Raiders

Last Week

The Raiders beat the St. Louis Rams 16-14. Same score as the Chiefs game... but anyways...

The Raiders ran the ball early, often, and effectively. They rushed for 173 yards on 40 rushes (4.3 yards per rush). Obviously, the focus of the media attention in this game will be focused on the Raiders' QB controversy after coach Tom Cable decided to bench Jason Campbell in favor of Bruce Gradkowski. Each QB threw an interception, but Bruce brought a life to that offense that was nonexistent when Campbell was in the game.

I'll say the same thing that I said in the Chiefs section. The scary stat for Chiefs Raider fans, though, is redzone efficiency. The Raiders reached the redzone 4 times and scored a touchdown on only one occasion. If the Raiders want to compete for the division title, they have to put the ball in the endzone. Getting inside the 20 yard line doesn't put points on the board. You have to get all the way across the goal line.

Raider Injuries

Some big names are missing from the Raiders line up.

Robert Gallery, Richard Seymour and Michael Bush were all inactive in week 2 against the Rams and all three of them figure to be on the week 3 injury report, as well. Robert Gallery is still nursing a hamstring injury.

He's got a pretty good strain. This is one of those things we'll see in 48 to 72 hours and see where he's at. Fortunately, those guys on the line of scrimmage, if they worked on Friday, they could play on Sunday.

-Tom Cable

That was said on Saturday. Gallery did not play on Sunday but since there hasn't been an injury report since then, it will be interesting to see if Gallery will make it back for the game in week 3.

Richard Seymour also has a hamstring injury. He was listed as questionable before the game and was inactivated just before kickoff. Whether or not he returns to the practice field remains to be seen.

Same with Michael Bush who is still recovering from thumb surgery. Bush has yet to play a game in the 2010 season, which is killing fantasy football owners and Raider fans, alike.


This Week

The Raiders will travel to Arizona this week to face the Arizona Cardinals (1-1). The Cardinals are a shell of their former selves, trying to find an identity for the 2010 season. Derek Anderson has thrown 1 TD and 2 INTs, so far, while Tim Hightower and LaRod Stephens-Howling have rushed for a combined 218 yards and 2 TDs. The Cardinals are statistically average (13th, 18th, and 16th in rush yards, pass yards, and total yards, respectively). Unfortunately, they are well below average in the stat that matters most.... points (29th in the league with 12 points per game). Why do I think that is? Third down conversions. The Arizona Cardinals are 5 for 21 on third downs (24 %) while their opponents are a combined 19 for 37 (51 %). The disparity is staggering.

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.



Once again, there is your weekly look look at the rest of the AFC West. 

RIP Kenny McKinley