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Horse Tracks: 5 games in, the AFC West is taking shape

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Kansas City Chiefs vs Oakland Raiders - December 23, 2006 Photo by Robert B. Stanton/NFLPhotoLibrary

Although the Denver Broncos were off Sunday, there was still plenty of AFC West football to watch. The Chiefs, Raiders, and Chargers all played and... well... the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Everybody’s favorite offseason pick to challenge the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, the Oakland Raiders, dropped their third straight game. All that jibber-jabber about how the culture has shifted and things were going to get better seemed to evaporate in their Sunday loss to a scrappy 2-2 Baltimore Ravens squad. Personally, I think this is the kind of game that the Raiders lose that could send them into a season-sinking tailspin. They have always lacked the resiliancy to bounce back from adversity and, as of Monday morning, they are enjoying a 2-3 record. Familiar territory for a team trying yet again to get their record over .500.

The Los Angeles Chargers won a game! It has to be absolutely brutal to get your first win of the season in October, but a win is a win and kudos to them for getting it done. With Oakland looming large later this week, it’s entirely possible there could be a win-streak in the making. Probably not, but the Raider-hater in me absolutely loves the idea.

Then there’s the Kansas City Chiefs. It kills me to say this, but the Chiefs are looking like the most legit team in the NFL through five weeks. Their defense is nasty, Alex Smith has reinvented himself this year as a dynamic force at quarterback, their run game is on fire, and Andy Reid is looking every bit a mastermind behind that mustache. It’s just awful. After watching them handle the Houston Texans on Sunday night, it’s clear that rooting for other teams to take care of business isn’t going to be enough. If Denver wants the Chiefs to lose, dammit, they’re going to have to do it themselves... and I know they can do it.

The bye week is now officially behind the Denver Broncos. Let’s get back to some football!

HORSE TRACKS

Oakland Raiders drop third straight | The Fresno Bee
The Baltimore Ravens jumped out to a 14-0 lead and the Oakland Raiders never recovered in a 30-17 loss on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017.

Ailene Voisin: Oakland Raiders' excitement turning to misery | The Sacramento Bee
The Oakland Raiders drop their third consecutive game Sunday, October 8, a 30-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. They hadn’t lost a home game in nearly a year.

Flat Oakland Raiders flattened by Ravens in third straight loss
The Raiders never gave E.J. Manuel a chance in his fill-in start for Derek Carr, as banged-up Oakland continues to ride a slippery slope.

Donald Penn of Oakland Raiders confronts fans in Coliseum parking lot after loss to Baltimore Ravens
Raiders Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn got into a verbal altercation with fans as he exited the Oakland Coliseum parking lot following his team's loss to the Ravens on Sunday.

Chiefs-Texans game story for Oct. 9 | The Kansas City Star
Tyreek Hill’s 82-yard punt return highlights the Chiefs’ 42-34 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday. The Chiefs, 5-0, are the only unbeaten team in the NFL.

Alex Smith continued his MVP-like play in Kansas City Chiefs' win - Kansas City Chiefs Blog- ESPN
Alex Smith threw for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards, but he was at his best on third down Sunday night in keeping Kansas City unbeaten.

Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce, Justin Houston, and Chris Conley exit game with injuries
The Chiefs remain the NFL's only undefeated team, but they suffered several injuries in their Sunday win over the Texans. Tight end Travis Kelce suffered a concussion during the game, and WR Chris Conley ruptured his Achilles tendon.

Chargers defense 'came up huge' in victory over Giants - LA Times
Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa and linebacker Melvin Ingram wreaked havoc in the pass rush against the Giants.

So this is what it's like not caring what happens during a Chargers game? - The San Diego Union-Tribune
Columnist misses first Chargers game after 206 in a row, ends up having to do real work.

Vice President Pence walkout upstages Peyton Manning | SI.com
While the Indianapolis Colts honored Peyton Manning on Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence stole the spotlight with a planned political statement.

Indianapolis Colts cap Peyton Manning festivities with number retirement, Ring of Honor induction
A jersey retirement Sunday capped off a weekend in which the Colts honored quarterback Peyton Manning for his 14 years with the franchise.

Big Ben after 5 INTs: 'Maybe I don't have it anymore' - NFL.com
The Jaguars' secondary shook Ben Roethlisberger to his core on Sunday afternoon. After Pittsburgh's surprising 30-9 home loss, Big Ben caught himself questioning his own future in football.

Whitney Mercilus out for season with torn pectoral - NFL.com
After losing J.J. Watt for the year with a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg, the Texans learned that linebacker Whitney Mercilus will also miss the remainder of the 2017 season with a torn pectoral.

Cleveland Browns bench rookie QB DeShone Kizer after scoreless first half
The Browns benched rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer after a scoreless first half against the Jets, and coach Hue Jackson wouldn't say who would be the starter for Week 6.

After controversial week, Cam Newton shows he's regaining MVP form
Cam Newton passed for 355 yards and three touchdowns without an interception to lead the visiting Panthers past the Lions.

4-1 teams - Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers - separate themselves in jumbled 2017 NFC playoff race - NFL
After a year out of the playoffs, Cam Newton' Carolina team is right back in the thick of the race. Philadelphia and Green Bay also picked up crucial wins in Week 5. Here's how the NFC playoff picture looks now.

Miami Dolphins looking into video of OL coach Chris Foerster snorting white powder off table
The Miami Dolphins said Sunday night that they are aware of a video allegedly showing offensive line coach Chris Foerster snorting a white powder off a table before a meeting.

Dolphins have no comment on apparent Chris Foerster video, for now – ProFootballTalk
On Sunday, a video surfaced on Facebook that purports to show Dolphins run game coordinator/offensive line coach Chris Foerster snorting multiple lines of a drug through a rolled up dollar bill. On Sunday night, the Dolphins issued a statement regarding the video.

Odell Beckham fractures ankle on gruesome injury, could require surgery - CBSSports.com
The Giants are without OBJ, Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris due to injuries

NFL Week 5 notebook: Cutler's ineptitude leaves Dolphins fans wanting Moore - CBSSports.com
Steelers' Roethlisberger and Giants' Manning showing age and more observations from Week 5

Packers vs. Cowboys final score, things to know: Aaron Rodgers stuns Dallas in thriller - CBSSports.com
Rodgers is officially the Dallas Cowboys' worst nightmare

Emotional J.J. Watt leaves in ambulance after suffering tibial plateau fracture - CBSSports.com
Whitney Mercilus was also injured during the first drive of the game, and both have been ruled out

Mike Zimmer anticipates Sam Bradford starting Monday night – ProFootballTalk
The Bears will have a new quarterback starting on Monday night and the Vikings expect to have their original one back in the lineup. In a production meeting ahead of Monday night's game, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told ESPN that he anticipates Sam Bradford will start at quarterback against Chicago...

Window for Duane Brown’s potential return is coming – ProFootballTalk
The Texans want tackle Duane Brown to return. Soon, he could be. Under the precedent created a generation ago in the Joey Galloway case, the window will soon open for Brown to return to the Texans, if he's concerned about getting credit for the current year of his contract and working his way tow...

Was Ezekiel Elliott’s best game his last game for a while? – ProFootballTalk
Ezekiel Elliott had his best game of the year, rushing for 116 yards on 29 carries and catching one pass for 16 yards. It also could be his last game for a while.