Around the AFC West: Raiders, Broncos, Chiefs recap

Each week I'll be taking a look at the happenings of the rest of the ACF West with a look at each teams previous game and any injury news/transactions/players to watch that could impact the Chargers. With all three other AFC West teams losing, the Chargers gained a full game on everyone in the division, making up some much needed ground. They now sit in third place in the division, ahead of the Raiders because of the head-to-head tiebreaker.


1. Their Game:

 As you probably know by now, the Chargers beat the Raiders in Oakland 17-16. You can read my full recap of the game here. Nick Novak kicked a last second field goal that gave the Chargers their second win of the season. Derek Carr looked out of sync in his return from a back injury and may not have been fully healthy. He stuck mostly to quick reads and check downs and completed just one pass of more than 15 yards.

The Raiders were seen by many as a possible super bowl contender before the season started, but now sit at 2-4 with their season on the brink of collapse. While Marshawn Lynch had a good game against the Chargers on a yards per carry basis, that's probably due to the Chargers linebacker's struggles in the run game and with bringing down bigger backs. He still looks a step slower than he used to and that isn't likely to change. Defensively, Oakland is still a mess in the middle of the field, unable to guard the intermediate passing game. Up next for the Raiders is a make or break season-defining game against Kansas City on Thursday night football. Carr has struggled mightily in primetime games so far in his career, and he'll have to turn in a great performance to keep their season from going completely off the rails.

2. Injuries/News:

The big Raiders news of the week is their signing of linebacker Navarro Bowman, who was released by the 49ers. It's unclear how much the 29 year old four-time first team all-pro has left in the tank after multiple serious injuries, but he can't be much worse than what the Raiders have been trotting out there. He will reportedly start on Thursday night against the Chiefs despite being with the team for just a couple weeks.

The Raiders designated rookie safety Obi Melifonwu, their second round pick in this year's draft, as one of their return players from injured reserve. Melifonwu is expected to return in week nine when first eligible. The #56 overall pick from Uconn will be a much needed reinforcement for a leaky Oakland secondary.

Gareon Conley will miss week seven. The first round pick has now played in just two games and doesn't appear to be nearing a return any time soon.


1. Their Game:

The Broncos were humiliated in front of a national audience, losing on Sunday night football as 12 point favorites home to the previously winless Giants. Trevor Siemian had a full blown meltdown, throwing two first half interceptions including a pick six just before halftime. He racked up a lot of garbage time yardage with the Giants playing soft defenses up three scores, but it was an undeniably horrible performance, a third straight for Siemian. Siemian tends to get particularly badly exposed when the run game isn't working, and the Giants were able to stifle C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles.

The Broncos defense, after being the best in the league against the run through the first five weeks, began to show signs of the poor run defense that plagued them last season. Orleans Darkwa shredded them on the ground for 117 yards despite having no threat of a passing game from the Giants injury depleted offense. They'll come to Los Angeles to play the Chargers this Sunday in a rematch of week one's thriller.

2. Injuries/News:

Making matters worse for the Broncos in their loss was that they suffered several key injuries. Emmanuel Sanders went down with what looked to be a seriously sprained ankle and will miss at least this week's game against the Charges. He's key to the Broncos passing game and his absence will allow the Chargers to focus on stopping Demaryius Thomas.

Receiver and return man Isaiah McKenzie will also miss the Chargers game due to an injury he suffered Sunday night, leaving the Broncos with a depleted receiving corp.

The Broncos officially announced linebacker Shane Ray will be one of their injured reserve return players. He can return in week nine. Ray had eight sacks last season and will bolster the Broncos pass rush when he gets back.

The Broncos promoted receiver Hunter Sharp off their practice squad while they deal with the injuries to their pass catchers. Sharp is a second year UDFA out of Utah State.


1. Their Game:

I've been saying all year this Chiefs team was very good, but not quite as good as their record suggested. They finally got exposed this past Sunday when they were beat soundly by the Steelers at home. The Steelers haven't been playing their best football recently, and never play particularly well on the road, but they still beat the Chiefs solidly. The 19-13 final score makes the game seem much closer than it really was as it took an epic Pittsburgh choke for the Chiefs just to have a chance at winning it. In reality, they were pretty thoroughly beat.

That being said, they're still a very good team and are still very much in the drivers seat to win the division. Kareem Hunt is a legitimate MVP candidate, and Alex Smith is still playing like one. The offensive line is banged up and not that great and their run defense is something that can be exploited, but they're still a legit contender in a wide open AFC. They take on the Raiders in a crucial division game that will either put them on a two game skid or sitting comfortably at 6-1.

2. Injuries/News:

Change of pace running back Charcandrick West will miss Thursday's game after leaving the game against Pittsburgh with a concussion. Akeem Hunt will now spell Kareem Hunt.

Tyreek Hill and Albert Wilson both sustained minor injuries but are expected to play against the Raiders. It's notable because the Chiefs are already thin at receiver having lost Chris Conley for the season with an achilles injury.

They re-signed running back C.J. Spiller. It's the fourth time this year they've added Spiller to the roster, only to end up cutting him each time. He's yet to actually notch a carry for them.

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

Chiefs 5-1
Broncos 3-2
Chargers 2-4
Raiders 2-4


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