AFC West Thoughts After Opening Sunday

Denver Broncos” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

By Cullen Jekel


Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs showed a lot of positives in their 2018 opening win in Los Angeles against the Chargers. For one, the win basically gives them a two-game lead on their division foe with the return game later in the season at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

WR Tyreek Hill showed up in a big way, scoring long touchdowns by way of punt return and a catch-and-run. He added another later on some trickery.

Perhaps most importantly, though, second-year QB Patrick Mahomes (of Texas Tech fame) lived up to the high expectations placed upon him as soon as the Chiefs traded Alex Smith. Yes, it’s only one game–but it was a big game, and Mahomes responded. While he only connected on 15 of 27 pass attempts, he connected with his teammates for four touchdown passes. He also consistently showed off his cannon of an arm while adding in some touch passes for flavor.

Now some shows for concern:

  • RB Kareem Hunt averaged just a hair over 3 yards per carry*;
  • TE Travis Kelce was held to one catch for 6 yards;
  • WR’s not named Tyreek Hill didn’t grab more than 3 catches;
  • Chargers QB Phillip Rivers shredded the secondary.

*The team, collectively, gained 106 yards on 27 attempts.

Overall, a good first week for the Chiefs. They did what they needed to do to win a divisional away game, and can now address their weaknesses.


Los Angeles Chargers

Before its defense could even take the field, the Chargers were losing, and they never recovered.

Special Teams hurt L.A. all day, from Tyreek Hill’s 91-yard punt return touchdown, to fumbling away a punt at a point where the game’s outcome was still in question, to Kicker Caleb Sturgis’ missed field goal in the fourth quarter that would have made it a seven-point ball-game.

Outside of WR Keenan Allen, Chargers’ wide receivers had a tough game, with multiple passes getting dropped, including several that would have resulted in big gains, if not touchdowns.

As far as positives, Phillip Rivers showed he’s not slowing down any time soon. He lit up the Chiefs for 424 passing yards and three touchdown passes. RB Melvin Gordon had a decent game on the ground, but he also collected 9 receptions for 100 yards receiving.

Fix some boneheadedness and the Chargers will be dangerous, but it’s not like this is a new thing for them. The same problem plagued them last year. They fixed it, eventually, to finish 9-3 in their last twelve games–but they were winless in their first four match-ups, and 9-7 wasn’t good enough for the playoffs.


Denver Broncos

New QB Case Keenum threw three interceptions yesterday against the Seattle Seahawks, and yet the Broncos still won 27-24.

Overall, Keenum went 25 for 39 for 329 yards and three touchdown passes to go along with those interceptions. WR Emmanuel Sanders did most of the damage, hauling in 10 receptions for 135 yards and one touchdown. WR Demaryius Thomas enjoyed a solid outing that included a touchdown reception. On the ground, the Broncos ran it 32 times for a collective 146 yards, splitting carries between rookie RB Royce Freeman and RB Phillip Lindsay (who also had a TD reception).

The defense gave up a shade under 300 yards in the air and three touchdown passes to QB Russell Wilson, but they also picked him off twice and held the Seattle running attack to under 70 yards. Led by LB Von Miller’s three sacks, the team collected a total of five. Kicker Brandon McManus nailed both of his field goal attempts, including a 53-yarder.

This team is already looking better than my predicted 4-12 record.


Oakland Raiders

No, the Raiders haven’t played yet in Week One.

Yes, I’m going to make some comments about them anyway, and only because EDGE Khalil Mack made his debut for the Chicago Bears last night.

It was really a win-lose for the Oakland Las Vegas Raiders last night: Mack showed up big in prime time for the Bears, recording one sack, recovering a fumble, and scoring on a 27-yard pick-six. Why, again, did the Raiders trade this guy?

However, that effort was ultimately futile, as the Bears blew a huge lead to lose to the Green Bay Packers 24-23. The Bears are a young team with a young QB and a young head coach. They will struggle this year, and the Raiders will benefit from that, having acquired Chicago’s first round draft pick as part of the deal for Mack.

Right now, though, it looks like just about everyone (except for Jon Gruden) predicted: Mack is worth it.



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