State of the AFC West is back this week after taking the holiday week off because I was out of state without my laptop. Actually, I had something prepared for last week but it's good that I didn't publish it because it would make me look less than prescient about the Chiefs and Broncos. On the other hand, Raiders suck-age is easy to predict no matter the circumstances.
I have to say that I didn't give the Broncos much of a chance against the Giants; although I will say I think that game probably said more about the Giants than the Broncos. The New York media is all saying how the Giants looked flatter than they've seen all season and that the team has lost its passion.
On the other hand, I was going to say how the Chiefs had improved; that was until the annoying Chief trolls came. It's a good thing that they did come because the Chiefs didn't really improve, they still suck; maybe just slightly less so with the release of Johnson. Jamaal Charles looks like the only good player on that team though.
Anyhoo, the Chargers are the first team in the division to finish division play, completing the tour with a 5-1 record. The Raiders and Chiefs still have a chance to play spoiler and affect the playoff picture; the Chiefs still have both games against the Broncos and the Raiders also play the Broncos once more.
One thing that I thought was interesting is that if you look at points allowed San Diego and Denver are almost identical when earlier in the season there was a wide gap. I wonder if its San Diego's defense improving or Denver's regressing. With the emergence of Vince Young, the Chargers have three tough games left: @Dallas, vs. Cinci, and @Tenn. The Broncos have two tough games left @Indy and @Philly. The tiebreaker scenario may end up to be important so I think it will also be difficult for Denver to sweep the 3 remaining division games.
Jump the break, yo.
AFC West Standings
(updated 12.1.2009 at 1:12 AM PST)
I'm not going to post the injury widgets anymore because they suck and are inaccurate.
Oakland Raiders: A week after a big upset win the Raiders returned to their getting blown out ways. They gave up 24 points to the Cowboys who have had an enormous struggle with scoring points in recent weeks. Bruce Gradkowski similarly regressed and simply didn't play very well. It seems like neither Russell or Gradkowski is the answer at QB and they will have to look at the draft and try not to fail. Again. *cough* Russell, Heyward-Bey, McFadden *cough* DE Greg Ellis re-injured his surgically repaired knee in the loss and is questionable to play against the Steelers. The only other important injury is Justin Fargas who also is questionable. It looks like Ben will be back on Sunday so the Raiders will have their hands full with the Steelers and will try to play wildcard spoiler as well.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs thought that one win turned around the franchise. Think again. Its going to take a lot more than that to turn that mess around. That being said, Charger fans are definitely Chief fans for the rest of the season. Well, I guess they are getting better in that case. The only two games they have been blown out in were the two against the Chargers. If they limit the mistakes and stick to the run maybe they can help the Chargers out in the playoff picture. The Chiefs didn't sustain any additional injures, just the same ones as last week (Vrabel, Rogers, Savage, Herron). Bowe is still out from his PED suspension. With the Chiefs season over, the only story worth thinking about besides being spoiler is Charlie Weis' firing from Notre Dame. There is a strong possibility that Weis may take over as offensive coordinator at Kansas City given his connection with Scott Pioli and Haley request to focus more on overall game management. We'll have to see how it plays out.
Denver Broncos: After their embarrassing 4 game losing streak, the Broncos absolutely laid wood on the G-Men who looked like little girls on Thanksgiving. What does this mean for the Broncos? Probably a first round playoff loss. We'll have to see how they respond against a weak opponent in the Chiefs on Sunday. Either way, I still think teams have figured out how to scheme against them and the defense is going to play old. Eddie Royal left the game with a thigh injury and I haven't heard anything else about that. Losing Royal for any amount of time would be a huge loss. They are only 4.5 point favorites right now so the rest of the world hasn't regained their confidence yet. Not much else going on in Bronco land right now as things seem to have settled down after the win although Brandon Marshall has been real ornery lately.
San Diego Chargers: Another week, another win, another injury. The only thing stopping the Bolts right now from making a deep playoff run is injuries. Good thing we have a bye week to rest the walking wounded and let Hardwick and Runyan settle in. From what my inside sources tell me, Eric Weddle is out for probably two weeks, Luis Castillo and Shawne Merriman will likely rest against the Browns. Everyone else looks ok. Larry English will probably get alot of playing time and we might be able to see what he can do in that role. I just got the exclusive scoop that OLB Marques Harris is re-signing today. That should help with depth at that position. The DL by committee shuffle win continue as is without Luis; we are definitely weaker against the run without him but we will manage. Hopefully he can return for the Dallas game because they have some dynamic backs. At safety, Oliver and Gregory should do the job just fine with Cason in the nickle and Ellison in on running downs.
Hopefully everyone will be rested up and healed in time to make a playoff run. I don't think this Cromartie thing is going to distract anyone with Phil and Norv at the helm and he'll play at least until he gets suspended or convicted. We'll have to see how it plays out but I assume Cason would take over if it comes to that. Let's hope his teammates who are saying he didn't do anything are telling the truth.