Around The AFC West: Chiefs, Broncos, Raiders Recap

Each week I'll be taking a look at the happenings of the rest of the AFC West with a look at each teams previous game and any injury news/transactions/players to watch that could impact the Chargers. With the Chiefs beating the Redskins last night, the Chargers are now a full 4 games back of the division lead. Here's what each team did during the last week:


1. Their Game:

The Raiders had a big division game a week after their embarrassing blowout loss to the Redskins and fell to the Broncos 16-10. Pretty much nothing went right for Oakland as they struggled in every facet of the game right from the get go. Marshawn Lynch continues to look like he's lost a step, managing just 12 yards on 9 carries, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him start to lose playing time soon, although they have few legitimate options behind him. The big storyline here of course is the back injury that Derek Carr suffered during the game which I'll get to in further detail in a bit. Carr wasn't very effective before going down with almost all of his production coming on one broken play to Johnny Holton. He was relieved by E.J. Manuel, who was mediocre. Manuel led one good scoring drive and made a few nice throws but also threw a game sealing interception with 1:45 left.

They again struggled to get Amari Cooper going as he caught just 2 of 8 targets for 9 yards and committed another bad drop. The Raiders offense has now struggled mightily for two weeks in a row and will now be counting on Manuel to lead them in another tough matchup this week against the Ravens defense. They come to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in week 6.

2. Injuries/News

Obviously the big takeaway here is Carr's back injury. The Raiders originally said Carr was just suffering from back spasms, but that turned out not to be true as Carr was recently revealed to have a "transverse process fracture" in his back. He's already been ruled out for the Raiders next game against the Ravens and seems doubtful at best for week 6's matchup with the Chargers. The Chargers now likely get to face Manuel at home, and the injury has massive implications for the entire AFC playoff picture.

The Raiders also lost cornerback David Amerson to a potentially serious concussion. It's Amerson's third known concussion in the last 2 seasons.

Cooper had reportedly spent "extra time" with Carr in the days leading up to the game to try to work through their chemistry issues caused by his drops.

Michael Crabtree continues to battle a chest injury that caused him to miss the Broncos game and potentially more time.


1. Their Game:

As was just mentioned, the Broncos beat the Raiders 16-10 and are now 3-1 and in sole possession of 2nd place in the AFC West. The Broncos didn't play great but did enough to get the win. The defense continues to look great, and they appear to have fixed all the problems they had against the run from last year. Through the first 4 games of the season the Broncos have faced Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy, and Marshawn Lynch and allowed them to run for a combined 95 yards on 50 attempts, less than 2 yards per carry.

On the other hand, the offense continues to look underwhelming. The dual-backfield of C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles continues to look good but Trevor Siemian does not. Siemian couldn't manage even 7 yards per attempt against this Raiders secondary which is among the league's worst, and after an initial hot start couldn't get anything going. After a great showing against Dallas and their injury depleted defense, Siemian has regressed immensely the past two weeks. Siemian is just about the only thing holding this team back from being a legitimate title contender and if he can just play competently and not turn the ball over, the Broncos will be very hard to beat this season.

2. Injuries/News

The Broncos escaped the game without any major injuries. They got Devontae Booker back in action for the first time all year, finally healthy after breaking his wrist in training camp. The second year back gained 14 yards on 3 carries and will occupy a change of pace role behind Anderson and Charles.

Linebacker Shane Ray is reportedly on schedule with his recovery from his wrist injury. Ray was placed on injured reserve at the start of the season and is eligible to return in week 8, which it looks like he will. Ray will be a nice boost to the Broncos pass rush once he's back.


1. Their Game:

The Chiefs beat the Redskins on Monday Night Football to remain the NFL's only unbeaten team. Although they escaped with a victory, the Chiefs didn't look particularly impressive. They were routinely beat in the trenches at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and their offense didn't really start clicking until about half of the Redskins defense was gone with injuries. By the 4th quarter, the Redskins were playing special teams guys on defense which is when Alex Smith really started shredding them.

Smith was sharp again and it's clear Kareem Hunt is as dynamic of a running back as anyone in the league, but overall they weren't nearly as dominant as their record might suggest. Their defense was routinely beat deep by Kirk Cousins who tossed numerous easy balls over the top. Josh Doctson also dropped a potential winning touchdown with 50 seconds left which caused the Redskins to settle for a field goal along with several other breaks they caught. Ultimately, the Chiefs haven't looked very deserving of all the hype they've been getting. The best defense they've faced is probably the Chargers, and they struggled to move the ball against them for almost the entire game, scoring all of their points off turnovers aside from Hunt's garbage time 60 yard run.

2. Injuries/News

The Chiefs signed kicker Harrison Butker off the Panthers' practice squad to replace Cairo Santos, who was placed on injured reserve and then waived. Butker nailed the game winning kick in his first game with the Chiefs.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif left the game on Monday with a knee injury and wasn't able to return. It looked like a potentially serious injury but coach Andy Reid referred to him as "day-to-day" earlier today. If Duvernay-Tardif has to miss any time it would be a pretty huge blow to an already thin offensive line.

There you have it, that's where things stand in the AFC West.

Chiefs 4-0
Broncos 3-1
Raiders 2-2
Chargers 0-4


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