Texas Hold'em In the AFC West

Like a deck of cards in a high stakes poker game teams throughout the AFC West are shuffling around each week. It seems somebody else wants to make their case for winning the AFC West as the Broncos and Chargers both take a leg up in the division as the Chiefs took the week off.

Many pointed finger towards San Diego as the sure bet loser in the west before the season started, but the San Diego Chargers forgot to get that memo. The Chargers thrashed the Jacksonville Jaguars and their highly touted defense Sunday afternoon 34-21. San Diego moves to 3-2 on the season and "Marty ball" appears to be working for the time being.

A balanced offensive attack paved the way for the Chargers as they jumped to a 21-0 lead on a LaDanian Tomlinson touchdown run and two touchdown receptions by second year tight end Antonio Gates. Tomlinson busted out for 134 total yards on the afternoon with a majority of those coming through the air.

The pesky TCU alumni ignited the San Diego offense every time he gets his hands on the ball. Tomlinson did fall out of the game in the third quarter with an aggravated groin injury, but he wasn't missed. Third year running back Jesse Chatman out of Eastern Michigan added a 41-yard touchdown run. His performance opens up eyes, as the Chargers seem to have found another weapon.

Gates has thrived in the passing game. The young tight end is quickly becoming one of the leagues best. But the biggest surprise on this team is the play of their starting quarterback. Drew Brees is showing that he is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. The scrappy Brees had 211 yards passing with the two Gates touchdowns Sunday. Defense added three forced turnovers and San Diego sits nicely all alone in second place.

Another huge test for the Chargers creeps up on the horizon. The Bolts go to Atlanta for one of next weekend's marquee match-ups. The Falcons sit at 4-1 and firmly in control of the NFC South; while the Chargers cling to second place in the AFC West. The Raiders are reeling and the Chiefs are showing signs of life and that means this game looms large to legitimize the Chargers 3-2 start.

One sub plot the blockbuster trade gone good for both teams. San Diego traded Michael Vick to Atlanta for Tomlison and Tim Dwight and perhaps some key questions will be answered on who got the better end of the deal after Sunday.

The Denver Broncos once again find themselves in a close game but they manage to pull out another victory as they climb to the top of the division with a nice 4-1 record. A late Jake Plummer to Ashley Lelie 39-yard touchdown pass put the decisive points on the board as the Broncos took out the Carolina Panthers 20-17. Plummer had two interceptions on the afternoon but still managed to throw for a respectable 226 yards passing.

The running back factory continues in Denver as fifth year fullback Reuben Droughns carried the ball 30 times for 193 yards against the Super Bowl runner-ups last season. Quentin Griffin was held out of the game and Droughns turned out the best rushing performance of the Broncos season.

The Broncos defense continues to be one of the best in the league holding the Carolina rushing attack to 64 yards. Stephen Davis did not play and DeShaun Foster left the game with a broken collarbone. The Broncos go to the black hole next Sunday to renew the rivalry with the Oakland Raiders in what could be a survival game for the Raiders who clearly have faltered in the absence of Rich Gannon. The Broncos look to take a commanding lead in the West by winning their third division game in six weeks. The Oakland Raiders have now dropped two straight games both on the road and their twelfth consecutive road loss. They fall to the Indianapolis Colts who pulverized the Raiders defense and won early going away. The Raiders rushing attack was held down and Kerry Collins threw three interceptions and it was business as usual for the Colts. Collins was also dumped on his back by the Colts aggressive defense four times. Amos Zereoue carried the ball 10 times for 41-yards and a negated 56-yard scoring run by a penalty to Frank Middleton.

Peyton Manning had three more touchdown passes and narrowly missed the 300 yard passing barrier. Running back Edgerrin James tallied up another 136 yards on the ground giving him 547 yards total through week five. The Colts are in first place of the AFC South with a bye week coming up.

For the Raiders the lone bright spot the last two weeks is the emergence of Ronald Curry. Wide receiver Jerry Rice failed to catch a pass for the second time this season. The Raiders find themselves with more questions than answers and they have a game they have to have with Denver Sunday. In a sad turn of events Rich Gannon will see a specialist this week and may be put on the injured reserved list likely ending his career.

Kansas City goes to Jacksonville and they get the Jags who are coming off of two starting losses after starting 3-0. With the division getting tighter and tighter every week all four teams in the division can find themselves within a game and a half of each other going into Week 7 and what will likely be an enjoyable second half of the season.

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