AFC West Week 13 Preview

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are preparing Qualcomm Stadium for a visit this weekend from the rival Raiders and their fans. The first game between these two teams was a comedy of errors for the Chargers. The Chargers' first two offensive possessions each ended with a blocked punt that essentially spotted Oakland a 10 point lead. Another issue with those two drives was that they were both 3 and outs deep in Chargers territory. The third drive had the Chargers taking control until Mike Tolbert fumbled near the goal line. The fourth drive quickly turned into a sack-fumble that the Raiders recovered. The Chargers and Raiders would combine for 6 fumbles in the game with the Raiders recovering all of them. That included another sack-fumble that the Raiders returned for a touchdown. The Chargers also gave up a 46 yard punt return while their own returns didn't produce anything special. Given all of that its amazing the Chargers only lost by 8.

The Chargers did only lose by 8 because when they weren't fumbling, getting punts blocked or giving up long returns they were using their high powered offense to tear through the Raiders defense and put points on the board. The defense also held the Raiders running game in check for most of the game and their pass defense did a good job against Bruce Gradkowski.

Suffice it to say, cutting down on mistakes this Sunday would be a big part of the winning formula.

Denver Broncos

 

The Broncos will make their yearly visit to Arrowhead to face the Chiefs. The question many are wondering going into this game is: Was their previous meeting a Mile High Fluke? I think many would look at the teams' records and think about the advantages Denver has at home and say it was. I'm here to say I think there is something to the idea that it wasn't.

First off, we know the Denver passing game is for real. With the exception of their loss to the Raiders, the Broncos passing game has come to play and has played at a high level week in and week out. In addition to that the Broncos have seen their running game spring to life in the past 3 weeks starting with that aforementioned victory over the Chiefs. Similarly, the run defense has also been fairly stout the last few weeks dating back to their game in London. It's the passing defense that brings up questions.

The Broncos pass defense is so bad it's allowed 7 games with DVOAs over 50%. That's a higher passing DVOA than Philip Rivers has on the whole season. It's bad. It was still bad against the Chiefs last time, but not nearly that bad. On the year, the Broncos haven't done nearly as bad against #1 WRs as they have against #2s, #3s, #4s, TEs and RBs. With the Chiefs primary passing weapon being #1 WR Dwayne Bowe, they potentially could keep him quieter than normal. Or at least when he lines up against Champ Bailey since it was primarily Bailey that gave Bowe troubles while he has picked up his high yardage totals mostly against others. In order for the Chiefs to start fast they may have to get creative and move Bowe around, hit Jamaal Charles on passing plays or involve other receivers. I don't usually see the Chiefs come out creative, so that may be a problem.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs play host to the Denver Broncos looking to get revenge for their week 3 loss in Colorado. The Chiefs cannot afford to get behind by multiple scores early in this game and should be well aware that the Broncos will be very aggressive early. In the last game the Broncos hit multiple long passes down the field that opened up the running game and led to early points. On those long passes I posit that the Broncos got a bit lucky. Sure, they got some one-on-one matchups and their receivers won the battles, but the Chiefs defenders were not getting burned. A hand in the right spot or a well timed jarring hit could have stopped some of those big plays. You could also say that Brandon Lloyd and Kyle Orton were really clicking that day and perhaps this game will see those two just slightly off their game. Or perhaps the Chiefs have something up their collective sleeves to knock them off their games.

The other factor in this game is Jamaal Charles. In the first game he struggled more than normal. In the Chiefs last game Charles was en fuego. He was breaking off big runs and picked up a bunch of large gains on first down. If he can step his game up from last time and gash the Broncos early it would go a long way towards elevating the Chiefs offense to the point where they can keep up with or stay ahead of Denver's.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders migrate down to San Diego to try to complete a season sweep of the San Diego Chargers for the first time in forever. They'll do it with Jason Campbell starting at the QB position. In the previous game Campbell was a late substitute after Bruce Gradkowski suffered an injury. Campbell had his share of struggles in that game, but got his act together for two big drives. One featured a big passing play to Louis Murphy and the other was well managed and took a lot of time off the clock in the 4th quarter. Both resulted in touchdowns. Unless the Raiders expect to get 2 more blocked punts and 6 fumble recoveries, then they'll need Campbell to step up and be that guy they saw during those 2 drives. Unlike that game Campbell now knows he can go to Jacoby Ford who caught 6 catches for 148 yards the last time Campbell started a game.

Another factor in this game is RB Darren McFadden. Earlier in the season McFadden was showing the promise that was there when he was a high 1st round draft pick. His last games, however, have been dreadful. Without a doubt the Steelers and Dolphins are skilled defensive units capable of stopping the run, but the Chargers have been the same way recently. McFadden's main goal should be quality runs on first down. That'll take a lot of pressure off of Jason Campbell and give them some better opportunities to do what Al Davis loves the most: GO DEEP!

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