BRONCOS

Around the AFC West: Broncos may not get out of last place this season

Oct 25, 2022, 11:00 PM
Courtland Sutton...
(Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos are at the bottom of the AFC West. They have a 2-5 record with one game left before their Week 9 bye. They travel to the United Kingdom to face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, and they’re hoping to stop their four-game losing streak. They are winless on the road (0-3) and in the AFC West (0-2).

There is some separation happening in the division. The top two teams are separating from the bottom two teams. The Broncos are bringing up the rear with no hope of making up much ground to get out of the fourth spot.

Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.

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Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs continue to roll over most opponents on a weekly basis. In Week 7, the Chiefs were able to easily handle the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 44-23. We’ve seen Kansas City make better usage out of their wide receivers. After trading away Tyreek Hill earlier this year, many wondered who would step up in his place. Earlier in this season, the ball was spread around too much to see which receiver that would be. Over the last couple of weeks, the Chiefs are clearing using three receivers in different ways.

JuJu Smith-Schuster seems to be emerging as the favorite target for QB Patrick Mahomes. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has also become a top downfield target on one of the league’s best offenses. Mecole Hardman has speed, but it’s his ability as a runner that is being highlighted as seen by his two rushing touchdowns against the 49ers.

While their offense is humming, their defense is going to be without one of their top playmakers for a couple of games. Chiefs DE Frank Clark was suspended two games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy Tuesday, Oct. 25. This stems from his weapons charges from last year, so after the team’s Week 8 bye we’ll see Clark out of action in Week 9 against the Tennessee Titans and Week 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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Las Vegas Raiders

Coming out of their bye week, it seems like the Raiders have figured out their offense. Things started to become clear for the Raiders after they beat the Broncos on the back (legs?) of RB Josh Jacobs. Over the last three games, Jacobs has 144, 154, and 143 yards rushing. In addition to racking up the yards on the ground, Jacobs has scored a whopping six touchdowns during that three-game stretch.

While the ground game is leading the way, QB Derek Carr is getting passing lanes opened up via play-action passing. During the three games where Jacobs has gone wild, the Raiders are 2-1 with their one loss being by only one point to the Chiefs. Add in guys like WR Hunter Renfrow getting healthy, you can see how the Raiders offense is becoming more well rounded.

The trade deadline is coming up on November 1, but that didn’t stop the Raiders from making a move earlier in the week. Raiders DT Johnathan Hankins was traded along with a 2024 seventh-round draft pick to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick Tuesday, Oct. 25. Hankins had been with the Raiders since 2018 and had 10 tackles through his first five games of the season. The veteran run-stuffer was a rotational player for the Raiders, and his run-stuffing skill set will come in handy for the Cowboys.

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Los Angeles Chargers

Going into Week 8, the Chargers have more injuries to key players than most teams out there. They had been dealing with an injury to their top wide receiver, and after Week 7 they lost a key starter on defense.

Chargers CB J.C. Jackson (knee) suffered a ruptured patellar tendon during the Week 7 game and will miss the rest of the season. Not only will this knee injury cost him the rest of the 2022 season, but it could also linger into the start of the 2023 season. The Chargers added Jackson earlier this year, and he was one of the most coveted players in free agency. He had not played well for the Chargers, and now they’ll turn to Michael Davis and Bryce Callahan to do more.

Chargers WR Keenan Allen (hamstring) did not have any setbacks with his hamstring injury in the Week 7 game against the Seattle Seahawks, according to head coach Brandon Staley. However, Staley said the receiver did not play after halftime due to the fact he ‘did not feel like he could burst’ off of the leg, and the team didn’t want to risk a setback. Reporters around the Chargers indicated they had Allen on a snap count. While Allen may be okay, the Chargers lost their other starting receiver in Week 7. Chargers WR Mike Williams (ankle) may have suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 7, according to reports. If testing results come back that it is a high-ankle sprain, Williams will likely be out a month or so.

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Around the AFC West: Broncos may not get out of last place this season