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Week One AFC West Report: Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos Chasing Raiders for Top Spot

If you’d have told me after Week one of the NFL season, the Las Vegas (Oakland) Raiders would be in sole possession of first place in the division, I might have chuckled at the mere thought of that possibility. Yet, to their credit, the Raiders indeed hold the AFC West top spot at 1-0 while the remaining three division rivals all lost.

Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs (21-20) – We’ve pretty much gone over the Chiefs failures in their opening night loss to the Lions to simply conclude, that this was their 2022 Colts game. I don’t want to harp too much, but I think a month from now, this will be a good loss for Kansas City.

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Outside of MVS, Justin Watson and Rashee Rice, the Chiefs other four receivers were pretty much nonexistent. Kadarius Tony had the roughest game of all, but of the four no-shows, he was consistently the only guy open that seemed to understand the play being called. Skyy Moore struggled in route running, Justyn Ross didn’t get enough meaningful snaps, and James Ritchie just got in the way.

Of all the mistakes the receivers made, plus the absence of Tight End, Travis Kelce, the Chiefs were one bad play gone good to win the game. However, the ball didn’t bounce that way and they fell to 0-1 on the season.  Yet, the biggest positive from the game was the play of KC’s defense. Considering the dog and pony show Chris Jones did sitting in a private suite watching the game with his Sopranos extras and the Katz Brothers at each side, that might have been their best game under Steve Spagnuolo to date.

Next up for the Chiefs they go on the road to face the Jacksonville Jaguars who won 31-21 over a feisty Indianapolis Colts team.  Bottom line Kansas City can’t afford to fall to 0-2 on the season.

Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers (36-34) – In the fourth quarter, the Chargers do what they always do in winnable games, especially at home, they find ways to lose. Chargers Quarterback, Justin Herbert, failed again to deliver on his last possession of the game and continues to show he is the new Phillip Rivers.

In watching this game, the Chargers had the better overall team, but Tua Tagovailoa threw a trio of touchdown passes, two of them to Tyreek Hill, and even though he made some bad throws when his team needed him the most, he found a way to deliver the goods. On the ground, the Chargers ran for more than 200 yards and Herbert had the offensive balance one would have thought could keep the lead in the fourth quarter.

Yet, the Chargers defense was awful. If I’m a Chargers fan, they should be worried about the defense. As a unit, despite some big opportunities to harass Tua, they played undisciplined and generally didn’t respect Hill who caught 11 passes for 215 yards. He played most of the game against single coverage, so it was merely Tua having enough time to find Hill.

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Next week the Chargers travel to face the Tennessee Titans who lost 16-25 to the Saints in New Orleans. The good news for Los Angeles is the fact Titans Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions, so the Chargers should be able to bounce back.

Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos (17-16) – For those who said Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t a good quarterback, might be right to some degree. However, the man wins an ugly brand of football, and that’s a good thing if you’re a Raiders fan. In their comeback win over Denver on the road, Garoppolo threw a pair of touchdowns, despite the fact the Broncos defense throttled their run game.

That meant the former 49ers starter, had to manage to make just enough plays, then rely on his defense to shut down his counterpart, Russell Wilson. To that point, as bad as Wilson was a year ago, this was by far his best overall performance in a Broncos uniform. However, he failed to deliver on his last possession, needing only a field goal to win the game, which tempers his overall performance. Listen he wasn’t great, but he was above average.

The problem for Denver was their defense. As mentioned, they were excellent in stopping the Raiders nonexistent rushing attack, but they were overly aggressive on defense and allowed Garoppolo to make big plays with his arm and legs to extend drives. Further, the Broncos defense was reckless with targeting penalties and late hits. That kind of play reminded me of the old New Orleans Saints defense under Sean Payton.

Next week the Raiders travel to Buffalo to play the Bills for their season opener. Depending on the outcome of their Monday night game against the New York Jets, this might be a must-win for Josh Allen and company.  With the Raiders opening win at Denver, they’ll be playing with house money next Sunday.

The Broncos host the Washington Commanders on Sunday who narrowly defeated the Arizona Cardinals at home 20-16. Former Chiefs Offensive Coordinator, Eric Bieniemy is running the offense for the Commanders, and for his first effort without Andy Reid over his shoulder, I thought he did a solid job in his debut.  Denver must win this game and should be favored, but the Commanders are well-coached, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can rebound after the Raiders loss.

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