This is going to be a good weekend of football for the AFC West. Lots of interesting match-ups and huge play off implications. *** means 1st team outside Wild Card. ** Means Wild Card. * Means top Seed
Denver*** (7-4) @ Jacksonville (2-9)
The first game of the day will be Denver taking on Jacksonville. This game will say a lot. With Paxton Lynch starting it's going to show us if eight weeks of working with the verbiage and his drop backs have helped.
It’s going to show what Gary Kubiak (or Rick Dennison) are capable of because there is nothing about Siemian or Lynch that is alike. It's actually quite strange that two such opposite guys were drafted. Must be the difference between what Elway wants and what Kubes likes. A game plan made for Trevor isn't going to work well for Lynch, so we'll see how married they are to their plan and not the player.
Jacksonville is not a QB friendly defense, but it looks like they struggle more from QBs in the shotgun. Rivers, King of the Pocket passers, tore them up. Jacksonville will be the toughest defense we face from a pass perspective. Tougher than KC. They’ve allowed the least passing yards and least distance. Have a sack every game. Some with multiple sacks.
This is a game to play aggressive. Take some chances and go after them. The Jags may see we have a rookie in his second start and assume we’ll play meek. Know our run game isn't great. Look for us to dink and dunk. Instead, I say, take some chances. Go Bold.
The Jags offense is in a funk and they're down four players. This gives our defense a chance to make up for any big gambles we take. If we hogtie Lynch into a conservative game plan, we could see a lot of three and outs. Let him roll the dice, let the offense go for broke. Can always dial it back if it's not working or Bortles from last year decides to make an appearance.
If we weren't playing the Jags’s offense, caution would be the call of the day. Not to mention, we’ve got to get the run game going. Having a QB with legs who can sell the play action, do roll outs and boots, will help. Also, look around, putting Lynch in shotgun a third of the time is not a bad thing. Rivers lit up Jax from the shotgun. With an iffy OL, it's a QB’s best friend. Especially against a team that gets a sack every game like the Jags. This will help not just help on Sunday, but down the road, too.
Luckily, the Jags offense makes ours look good. They are the Bad News Bears. Who else has two separate games with pick sixes from balls bouncing off cleats? Not sure how many dropped passes Jax has, but it has to be top five. We will win this game, but the question will be, by how much and does Kubes take the training wheels off his game plan and QB?
Oakland* (9-2) @ Buffalo (6-5)
This could be a bad match-up for Carr. Sexy Rexy (were did that moniker come from, it's quite strange) is a Bold guy. If Carr’s injury weakens his throws, look for the Bills to get aggressive. Yes, that seems to be my theme today. Be aggressive, be be aggresive.
The Bills, like us, are in must win situations to make the POs. It's go for broke for them, as well. Go Bold or go home. Best way to do that is to get in Carr’s face all game. I don't care who you are, if your hurting right hand is on the ball, you know dang well any touch to it is going to smart. Make Carr afraid. Make him throw the ball earlier than he wants to.
Get their OL to make false starts. When an OL knows it's got an injured QB, they get twitchy. Perfect for a Bold DC to get in their head. Take an offsides once or twice from their edge rusher. Get the OL thinking. The raiders are prone to flags. Lots of them. Good time to use them against Oakland by harassing their QB.
That's the key to this game. Get Carr and the offense on their heels. In their head. That and having the good Tyrod show up. He reminds me of Andy Dalton (before this year). He seems to be on the same type of roller coaster play. Good game, bad game and repeat.
Use Tyrod’s legs. He and Lesean McCoy are the perfect duo to make Oakland’s weak front five, pay. Ram the ball down their throat. Weaken them for the deep throws down field. I know Oakland beat us, but I still think this team isn't that good. They're kind of average at everything and have gotten fortunate. Rex could be the guy who exploits their weaknesses.
Here’s a link to their injuries which tells you a lot more than this poor image.
KC** (8-3) @ Atlanta** (7-4)
Julio Jones and Matt Ryan against a KC defense that is letting number one receivers burn them. This is going to be on the shoulders of the QB’s. It is a very bad match-up for KC. Seriously bad. (Yeah!)
Sure Atlanta defense isn't that great against QBs who are savvy vets, but KC isn't a high scoring team. They don't have an elite WR or RB. The key for Atlanta will be finding a way to limit Travis Kielce. Plus, keep Smith in the pocket. Tyrek Hill is a speedy little demon and most likely will score, but KC trying to control the clock on the dink and dunk isn't going to work if Atlanta scores in two minutes every drive.
If KC defense can shut down this offense, and pull out a win, then they are a real contender to knock Oakland off their perch. I don't see it.
There’s just not enough to like about KC defense against Matt Ryan. He's a pocket passer. Playing back there defuses some of the fire power we saw Justin Houston impose on our QB. Ryan gets rid the ball quickly, too.
If KC tries to double team Jones all game, Ryan will target others and feed the ball to Devonta Freeman and Telvin Coleman. Just don't see KC having enough offensive fire power to keep up. This is a game of offenses and KC will lose.
Tampa*** (5-6) @ SD (5-6)
Don't laugh, but this should be a fun game to watch. The Chargers are like the Jags, but the reverse. Their offense is keeping games real close, they haven't lost but one game by more than 7 points. It's the defense who's losing games (most of the time).
When Rivers has to play from behind, that's when he makes mistakes. He tries the big plays to gain chucks of yardage. It's the gunslinger in him, bless his passionate heart.
Guess whose defense is suddenly on fire? Playing top five ball the last few weeks? To match that, though, the Chargers put up big numbers. Top five defense (in recent weeks) against the top four offense.
While SD looks like a defensive push over, they're not, QBs struggle against them. Where SD can be exploited is in the run. Who has a top rusher? Tampa and Doug Martin. While Jameis Winston loves to throw the ball, he also knows when the run game is his best friend and this is the game. Martin will help take some heat off.
These teams are evenly matched opponents. I see turnovers as the deciding factor. SD turns the ball over a lot, but they also get at least one every game. If Tampa Bay wants to keep their play off hopes alive, they need to run the ball, keep Jaboo away from Joey Bosa and score early. Make Rivers play from behind.
If he gets the lead, it'll put Tampa into a pass for pass game. That's not a good thing. Jaboo is like Rivers. A lot like Rivers. Both play with passion and too often put the games on their backs and force big plays. Dirk Koetter needs to stay patient. Let his defense make some plays and keep at the run game.
SD has Melvin FREAKING Gordon and Tampa has Martin and Mike Evans. This game could very well be one that goes to the end as a nail biter and a TO is the deciding factor. Good luck, Tampa!