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Week 9 AFC West Preview

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Now that we're 1⁄2 through, time to pay real attention to whom our rivals play

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The AFC West has become the NFL’s most interesting division as three teams vie for control. Here’s a breakdown of this week’s AFC West matchups.

Denver (6-2) @ Oakland (6-2)

Thanks to a media that loves to champion the under dog (unless it's us), Oakland is getting love. Derek Carr is Jim Plunkett and Kenny Stabler, Jack Del Rio is John Madden and the team is the 1980 Raiders.

Reality is while Madden wouldn't have minded a penalty laden team, he'd have been ok with them being from nasty play, not stupid mistakes. Reality is Oakland’s run game on both sides is suspect. Also, only their WR’s are making big plays. Their TEs arent great. Which plays right into our strengths and weaknesses.

What we're best at—stopping WR’s is the crux of Oakland’s offense. Where we struggle a bit is vs TEs and RBs. Based on this, we should force Carr into a dink and game.

On our offense, we've got to find an answer to stop Khalil Mack. I'd suggest using only two WRs and go with two or three TE sets, plus use Andy Janovich as much as his hand will allow. Split the backs. Throw intermediate to Virgil Green. This is a whole area of the field that's been basically ignored, Oaklands LB won't be prepared for this and it'll help our run.

The Buccaneers showed that Oakland is weak on the right side and against QB runs. The passes to the right that Trevor does fairly well are the sideline ones. The ones he throws on play action or boots. Perfect match-up. Target the SS, too. Let's see him try a naked boot to the side Mack isn't covering. Trevor is going to have to use his legs this game. When third downs are an issue, you need a QB to help on some.

Keys for this game, is our offense needs to convert third downs. It boils down to that. A WCO who can't stay on the field is like a mouth without teeth and you’re given a steak. It also keeps Oakland offense off the field. For defense, use more Zaire Anderson instead of Corey Nelson. He's much better at coverage. With Oakland being a vertical team, our best coverage guys need to be out there. Take our chances at stopping the run.

Jacksonville (2-5) @ Kansas City (5-2)

KC needs to show up. Just can't come up with any scenario where the Jags win. Even firing their OC isn't going to help. The NFL is a QB driven league, if you don't have a spectacular defense. Blake Bortles has become a ghost. Not only am I throwing him under the bus, I'm backing up and doing it again.

This guy is playing with no heart. Shame on him. Nothing ticks me off more than a QB who doesn't care. It's not a personality thing, either. We have a QB who needs a heart monitor sometimes to see if he's still alive he's so chill, but he's never given out the vibe that he doesn't care. Not to mention, he's going to need to use a silent snap count. His OL is going to get flagged.

The Jags offense isn't going to use its many weapons until its QB acts like it matters. Why should the rest of the offense try, if their QB isn't? KC has zero reason not to cream this team.

Nick Foles showed he can play. I don't see them missing a beat. They brought in another RB since they were down to one, but they have four TEs and have used them all. The Jags defense has Jalen Ramsey, but all Foles has to do is target whomever he's not covering. Paul Puzluzny is the only linebacker who's fairly good. Stay away from those two and it should be a good day for Foles.

Tennessee (4-4) @ San Diego (3-5)

This is a game that’s tough to predict. Tennessee has come alive because of their run game. They stomped SD in the preseason, but the game was in TN. Not to mention, the teams they beat aren't good. The Lions (4-4) by 1, the Dolphins (3-4), the Jags (2-5) and the Browns (0-8). However, SD is 3-5.

The strength of the Titans is the run, but SD isn't bad at stopping the run. Coverage is an issue for SD. They're pretty bad at it. If Marcus wants to have a good game, he’s going to need both TE Delanie Walker and TE Anthony Fasano. His completions with and without both is a stark contrast.

Phillip Rivers is Bortles 180°. That guy doesn't give up and he’ll focus on the best match-ups. Antonio Gates may not be what he once was, but he may be enough to outwit Tennessee’s defense. Plus Melvin Gordon is a special player. Don't see Tennessee even with a decent run stop, at slowing him down. He's given the best defense in the country a tough time. Plus, TN is ranked towards the bottom at stoping the pass.

This injury report is why I'm not so sure SD can pull out a win. Travis Benjamin and Hunter Henry are big blows to their offense. And their weak secondary doesn't need anymore injuries. Mariota is inconsistant, but if he goes on a roll, he could be tough to stop. However, if Walker is hobbled, SD has a clearer path to victory.