AFC West Report: Broncos and Chargers Win Big

After a horrific loss in Miami the critics of the Denver Broncos had them scrambling for a new quarterback, a new coach, and had them all but ready to gear up for the 2006 season with a whole lot of changes. After week three of the season, the Broncos sit nicely in first place and the Chargers didn't let go of the panic button and climbed back in the AFC West race just underneath the Broncos and Chiefs.

Dick Vermeil may have not have seen it coming, but maybe he should have considering the lack of success he's had in Denver the past four seasons. The Broncos blasted Kansas City 30-10 in one of the more lopsided blowouts an AFC West team has had on another on Monday Night football in quite sometime.

The Chiefs had no answers for the sprint option plays and the misdirection played by the Broncos. With that execution, the outcome was never in doubt. The Broncos were stout on the ground and out gained the Chiefs two-headed monster of Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson by out running the more famous duo. The Broncos rushed for 221 yards while the Chiefs only managed 74 yards on the ground.

The best thing for Jake Plummer is that executed a very simple game plan. Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan decided during the week that he would play to the strengths of his quarterback and Plummer stayed within himself the entire game. On the night, Plummer only passed for 152 yards on 13 of 18 passing. When he was in trouble on Monday night, Plummer scrambled out of the pocket with receivers on a cross route. He easily hit his open receivers, as the Chiefs could not respond.

After a couple of weeks, the Denver defense looks to be one of the stingier ones in the league at least through week three. In wins over San Diego and Kansas City this defense has gained confidence. They've shut down some of the best running backs in the NFL. They've given resistance to Holmes and Johnson and the week before against LaDainian Tomlinson in the win over the Chargers.

The difference is the play of the teams front four. Enough can't be said about the guys that were peeled out of the trash pile in Cleveland. Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, Ebenezer Ekuban, and Michael Myers have all made plays in a Broncos uniform and each is making the most of their second chance in this league. Ekuban and Warren both sacked Trent Green in the game. Champ Bailey did leave the game in the 2nd quarter with a hamstring injury, already adding on to his separated shoulder that he gutted out to start the game.

On Tuesday morning, the Chiefs had to wake up with a sour taste in their mouths after their embarrassing loss to the Broncos. Although Trent Green has only thrown one interception so far, he has only thrown one touchdown. Green misfired on several plays during the game and never found a rhythm until they scored a garbage touchdown late in the game. Green's quarterback rating so far this season sits at 76.8, nearly eleven points less than his career average.

What's hurt Green more than the injuries on the offensive line is steady play from his wide receivers. Outside of Eddie Kennison, nobody else is stretching the field. Sammy Parker, in just his second year, dropped three passes on Monday night; though he did redeem himself with a late touchdown catch.

But it does beg the question, can Parker be counted on in this offense and will Kansas City have to bring back Marc Boerigter who has mysteriously been inactive the first three games of the season. The jury is still out on that. The Chiefs offense will get another stern test this Sunday when they host the Philadelphia Eagles. If Kansas City can win this game, they'll enter the bye week 3-1 and put their most difficult part of their 2005 season schedule in the rear view mirror.

We all knew it and finally San Diego Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer listed to his critics. He finally put the ball into the hands of running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Knowing his team averages nearly 5.4 yards per attempt, the Chargers now have the 3rd best rush offense in the National Football League. That statistic alone clearly intensifies the need to get Tomlinson the ball a lot more.

After two straight losses, the results were better this week as the Charger defeated the New York Giants 45-23. This game should boost their confidence as they travel to New England on Sunday to face the surging Patriots.

The rushing attack is clicking and Drew Brees has gained some confidence after the two tough losses to start the season. It's no secret that the Chargers want to go out every week and try to score a lot of points. Brees went 19 for 22 for 191 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants. Brees has an 87.2 quarterback rating so far on the year but he has plenty of room to grow.

The jury is out if this victory will catapult the Chargers back to dominance in the AFC. They have a rugged five game stretch that will likely tell the tale for the squad and how they might fair for the season. After going to New England this week they will return home to play the Steelers then back to back road games in Oakland and back across the country to play the Eagles before playing the Chiefs at home. A 5-3 record after eight games would be superb after dropping the first two games of the year. If they struggle in this stretch, then the Chargers will have no chance to defend their AFC West title of a year ago.

With all of the injuries to the Raiders receiving core has had to deal with in 2005, they have to be the best 0-3 team in the league. The Raiders showed a lot of heart in their game against the Eagles in Philadelphia but came up short 23-20. Wide receiver Doug Gabriel did return to the lineup and scored on a long touchdown pass from Kerry Collins. The Raider quarterback through the ball 42 times for 345 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Although the Raiders defense held the Eagles rushing attack in check for most of the game, the Eagles passing attack ate the secondary alive. Donovan McNabb passed for 365 yards on the afternoon. Brian Westbrook alone had 140 yards and Terrell Owens had 80 yards. Each scored a touchdown. Charles Woodson did a decent job on Owens and delivered a bone chilling hit on the Eagles malcontent receiver. But that falls short of the effort given by the Raiders secondary last Sunday.

It's widely known that special teams can affect the outcome of a game and in this contest it boiled down to just that as the Eagles did their job but the Raiders fell short.

Even with the Raiders getting torched through the air kicker Sebastian Janikowski has to take some of the blame for the loss. The kicker continues to struggle as he's hit only three of seven attempts on the season. He missed a pair of field goals on Sunday. In fact, his long of the season is a measly 29 yards.

If the Raiders are going to climb out of their 0-3 hole and win some of the close games they are losing, he'll need to turn it around. It won't get any easier this week as the Raiders will play host to the Dallas Cowboys. The Boys from Dallas are coming off an impressive come from behind victory in San Francisco already have a 1-0 record against the AFC West. In week one, the Boys defeated the Chargers in San Diego. In the close games the Raiders can expect to play, he will be necessary to help turn the team around. A loss on Sunday would put a damper on the teams scheduled bye week. With so much promise heading into the season, the Raiders could be 0-4 at the break. Top Stories