BRONCOS

Around the AFC West: It looks like a two-horse race down the stretch

Nov 9, 2022, 6:51 AM
Justin Herbert...
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos saw the rest of their division play in Week 9 while they had a bye week. Two of the teams in the division won, while one of them lost (again) on the road.

The Broncos are coming out of their bye with some momentum. They are not at the bottom of the division, and as amazing as it may sound, they could put together enough wins to push for the postseason in 2022.

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 went to overtime against the Broncos upcoming opponent the Tennessee Titans in Week 9. The Titans were playing without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and rookie starter Malik Willis was not good against the Chiefs. However, it was Derrick Henry and a frustrating Titans defense that almost came out on top.

Even though one of my favorites in this draft class, seventh-round pick Isaih Pacheco, is starting at running back for the Chiefs, they don’t run the ball much at all this season. The three backs they use in their backfield, Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Jerick McKinnon, combined for a mere 14 yards rushing on 12 attempts combined. Like we’re used to with the Chiefs, they live and die with the play of their quarterback.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes connected on 43 of his 68 passing attempts for 446 yards, one touchdown, and one interception against the Titans. Mahomes also led the team in rushing with six carries for 63 yards and a touchdown during the overtime win. As the weather changes, playoff football starts to happen late in the season. That means more teams are going to run the ball and play swarming defense as the postseason draws near. For the time being, the Chiefs are still emphasizing the passing game much more than the running game. We’ll see if they strive for more balance later in the season.

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Las Vegas Raiders

Things are going about as badly for the Raiders as one could possibly imagine. Here we are in week 10, and the dreaded ‘vote of confidence’ stories are being floated about the Raiders head coach. Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels is not on the hot seat, according to sources. Now, that’s not an official statement from Raiders owner Mark Davis, but it’s not what you want to hear before your first season as a head coach is done.

McDaniels didn’t make it through two seasons as the head coach with the Broncos, and some thought he would learn from the mistakes he made in Denver during his second stint leading a team. That’s not the case as McDaniels is still up to his hot-headed ways. The offense is maddeningly inconsistent, and the defense is among the worst in the league.

To top it off, the Raiders don’t know how to hold onto a lead. They have lost three 17-point-plus leads in contests this season. That screams they have a coaching problem. Add in the fact they’re winless on the road (0-5), and you can see why McDaniels tenure as the Raiders head coach is off to such a bad start.

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Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers were able to get back in the “W” column on the road against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9. They have a 5-3 record, and the Chargers certainly seemed poised to make a postseason run. With the talent they have on both sides of the ball, the Chargers are going to be a tough team to beat in the playoffs – provided everyone is near full strength.

They are still working without star wide receiver Keenan Allen. He injured his hamstring and missed Week 2 to Week 6. Allen did play in Week 7, barely, but during the bye in Week 8 he said his hamstring injury got worse. There’s a chance he is forced to miss more time. In addition to losing Allen, the Chargers are without their other star receiver Mike Williams. He’s expected to miss at least a few more weeks due to an ankle injury.

Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer registered eight receptions for a career-high 106 yards on his 10 targets in Week 9 against the Falcons. Palmer is going to have to do more while Allen and Williams remain out. If guys stay on track, the Chargers will be getting healthy at the right time – right before the playoffs. That’s good news for them, especially if they can stay on the winning track. However, that’s bad news for teams up against them as the Chargers are the type of team nobody would want to play in a win-or-go-home situation.

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Around the AFC West: It looks like a two-horse race down the stretch