Around the AFC West: The Broncos sit tied atop a struggling division
Sep 28, 2022, 7:06 AM
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
The Denver Broncos sit atop the AFC West after three weeks with a 2-1 record. Well, they’re tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the division lead, but it’s a great place to be this early in the 2022 season.
The AFC West features some of the best teams in the NFL, although none of them are playing like that right now. Things change quickly around the league, so the Broncos need to continue improving on both sides of the ball because their divisional opponents most certainly will.
Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs suffered their first loss of the season in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 20-17. It was a shock to those who cover the league to be sure, especially after the Colts were shutout by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the previous week. The reason why they lost is fairly simple when you watch the game.
The Colts used their rushing attack and the short passing game to dominate the time of possession. They essentially were playing keep away from the Chiefs, and Kanas City could not respond with a strong ground game themselves. It’s not a great plan to win if your quarterback leads the team in rushing with just 26 yards (that’s what Patrick Mahomes did in Week 3).
Reporters around the Chiefs are “optimistic” that kicker Harrison Butker (ankle) will be available for Week 4 against the Buccaneers. They already released practice squad kicker Matt Ammendoal, so it seems like Butker is on track to return to the field. Perhaps a better kicking game will help them get over the top if they play another close game.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders have not won a game this year. They are winless after three games, and that makes them a desperate opponent for the Broncos on Sunday. The game is in Las Vegas, so we’ll see if the home field advantage will be there, but I have a feeling Broncos Country will travel in droves.
The Raiders have not been able to get superstar wide receiver Davante Adams the ball as much as he’d like. Instead, Mack Hollins has been their leading receiver over the last two weeks. Adams has spent most of those two contests just running sprints against two defenders every time he runs a route. It’s clear that defenses are geared to slow down Adams and force other receivers to beat them, and that’s not working for the Raiders.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers were beat handily by the upstart Jaguars on Sunday. They were working without wide receiver Keenan Allen as he deals with a hamstring injury. Reports indicate that Allen should be able to return to practice this week ahead of their Week 4 game against the Houston Texans.
Like the Chiefs, the Chargers don’t have the commitment to the ground game they must have in close games. They’ll get down by less than 10 points and then completely abandon Austin Ekeler, Sony Michel, and the other running backs as ball carriers.
They’ve also been dealing with a banged-up quarterback. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (ribs) did not suffer any setbacks in the Week 3 game against the Jaguars, head coach Brandon Staley said Monday, Sept. 26. A ribs injury basically comes down to pain tolerance. The Chargers will do what they can to keep Herbert comfortable during the week of practice and well-protected (in terms of the gear he wears) on game day.