Around the AFC West: Broncos aren’t the only team struggling
The Denver Broncos head into their bye week no longer at the bottom of the AFC West. Their victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8 doesn’t fix everything, but it is a step in the right direction. Coming out of the bye, it will be important for this team to carry that momentum over to three winnable games starting in Week 10 against the Tennessee Titans.
The Broncos were active at the trade deadline, and they were the only team in their division to make a move on Tuesday. However, one team did make a trade (potentially a big one) last week while the other two in this division stood pat.
Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.
Kansas City Chiefs
A few days before Tuesday’s deadline, the Chiefs acquired wide receiver Kadarius Toney from the New York Giants in a trade. The deal sends a conditional third-round pick and a sixth-round pick to the Giants for the former first-round pick. Toney has been banged up for most of this season, but is reportedly over his hamstring injuries, according to Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid. Per Reid, the team’s plan for Toney is to see “how he fits in” and work him into the offense gradually as they will ease him into action.
The one thing the Chiefs don’t need is more weapons. Toney has been a failure and a bust so far in his pro career. However, the talent and explosiveness as a playmaker is still there when healthy. Now that he’s with the Chiefs, Toney could start figuring things out as a pro. That’s great news for the Chiefs if that happens, and its bad news for other teams in the NFL tasked with stopping an already dangerous offense.
In a post on his personal Twitter account last Friday, Chiefs running back Ronald Jones wrote that he would “sure like a release right about now.” The Chiefs did not trade him away, and they did not release him, so Jones remains on the roster. He’s been a healthy scratch all season behind starter Isiah Pacheco, and reserves Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon. The Chiefs have Pacheco as their starter, but they use all three running backs in a rushing attack they don’t feature all that much. Jones will have to continue as an unused reserve unless injuries hit the depth chart in front of him.
Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr went 15-for-26 for 101 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception against the New Orleans Saints in Week 8. The Saints won that game 24-0 in an easy win at home against a Raiders team that is reeling. Carr struggled as a passer, and the team could not run the ball as effectively as they had in the previous few weeks. The Raiders sit at the bottom of the AFC West with a 2-5 record. While they are 2-1 at home, the Raiders are 0-4 on the road in the 2022 season. Against the Saints, the defense was especially bad but so was the offense.
Like Carr, superstar wideout Davante Adams struggled in Week 8. Adams caught one pass for three yards against the Saints in Week 8. He was targeted five times during the game, but he could not shake free from rookie cornerback Alontae Taylor. It’s an interesting development for the Raiders, as many expected Carr and Adams to tear up the league. Instead, the Raiders are struggling to win, and fingers are being pointed at head coach Josh McDaniels.
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is on pace for 128 catches this year, which would be a single season record for a running back. Ekeler is certainly one of the most-dangerous weapons in the league, and the Chargers need to lean on him now more than ever. He provides a great outlet target for quarterback Justin Herbert, and Ekeler is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. The Chargers had a bye in Week 8 and coming out of their bye they should continue featuring Ekeler as much as possible.
Chargers wideout Mike Williams (ankle) is expected to miss at least four weeks, and wide receiver Keenan Allen has yet to return to practice as of this writing. That means the Chargers may have to lean on players like DeAndre Carter and Josh Palmer if Allen must miss more time. The Chargers travel in Week 9 across the country to play an upstart Atlanta Falcons team on Sunday.