AFC West Report: Field Hopes to Gain Ground

With the Denver Broncos getting a bye after their thrashing of the Eagles last week, the San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders all hope to gain some ground. The Broncos are 6-2 at the half way mark of the season and that lead could shrink or expand depending on the outcome of this weekends action within the AFC West.

The Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders will lock it up for the second time this season in what will be a huge game as each team tries to keep pace with the idle Denver Broncos. For the loser it means last place and a lot more work as we head into the middle of November and December. For the Raiders a win means they'll no longer share last place by themselves and they'll creep to .500. However, a loss by the Chiefs will mean a second consecutive divisional failure and they will officially be reeling.

The Chiefs come into this Sunday's game at Arrowhead Stadium with the sense that they lost a big opportunity in the 28-20 defeat to the Chargers last week. A win last week would have had the Chiefs just a half game back of Denver. But they could not get it done. Now they face a hungry Raiders team that seems to be gelling at just the right time.

The two teams played a controversial game in Week 2 on a Sunday night game. The Chiefs won 23-17 in Oakland, but the referees were criticized for several bad calls going against the Raiders. This match-up should be just as exciting. Both Kerry Collins and Trent Green are playing solid ball. Collins comes in with the 4th best passing offense while the Chiefs and Trent Green have the 11th best in the league.

Priest Holmes (who won't play Sunday) and Larry Johnson have combined for 850 yards and ten touchdowns so far on the season giving the Chiefs a reliable and efficient running attack. For the Raiders LaMont Jordan continues to be the best free-agent acquisition at running back for any team in the NFL. Jordan has rushed for 499 yards and seven touchdowns. What may even be more troublesome for Kansas City is that the Raiders have been dumping the ball in the flats to LaMont Jordan for huge gains. Jordan has 314 yards receiving and he can break the1000-yard mark for rushing and receiving with a big game this weekend.

While the Chiefs automatically will try to account for the whereabouts of Randy Moss, they can't afford to forget about Joey Porter much like the Tennessee Titans did last week. Porter had 123 yards receiving and two scores in the win. Even better for the Raiders they seem to be getting a different wide receiver making big plays each week. Kerry Collins is doing a great job spreading the ball around consistently.

The last game these two teams played was rather low scoring for the two. Don't expect that this weekend as both are geared up and have a lot on the line in the West. The Chiefs will have won six straight times over the Raiders if they can pull off a victory Sunday at home.

On the injury front Ryan Sims is out for the Chiefs while Langston Walker and Charles Woodson are out for the Raiders. Doubtful for the Chiefs is Jerome Woods and DeLawrence Grant for Oakland. On offense the Chiefs will be missing Holmes and left tackle Willie Roaf. A number of other players are listed as questionable as it would be typical for a big rivalry game.

Kick-off is slated for 12:00 noon CST at Arrowhead Stadium.

For the San Diego Chargers it will be the third road trip to the east coast in what has been a grueling schedule for the defending AFC West champs. San Diego will go to nostalgic Meadowlands for a 1:00 EST kick-off against the New York Jets. Not only that it will be the third time in four games that the Chargers will play a team coming off of a bye week. A stat that has to be a complete mishap by the National Football League.

For San Diego they won't complain, instead they'll try to get a win over the "shell- shocked" Jets and hope to improve to 5-4. A win would put them a game back in the win column from the Broncos. Sunday a little revenge may be on the Chargers mind as well. It was the Jets who knocked San Diego out of the playoffs last season in overtime.

The game plan for the Chargers is simple, give the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson all day long. The star running back has been sensational for the Chargers. Tomlinson has gained 728 yards and ten touchdowns this season. Even more so he has a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. Tomlinson is 3 for 3 passing with three touchdowns including one last week in the win over the Chiefs. That's more touchdown completions than the three Jets quarterbacks have had all year.

Drew Brees continues his good season and he's able to be relied upon when things don't go so well for the Chargers in other areas. Brees has a 92.1 quarterback rating and has thrown 13 touchdowns while being picked off seven times. Tight end Antonio Gates had six of those touchdown receptions while averaging 13.4 yards a reception and a total of 575 yards on the season.

On defense Donnie Edwards has 60 tackles and two interceptions on the season. Shawne Merriman and Luis Castillo are emerging as standout rookies. Merriman and Castillo combined for 3 ½ sacks last week against Kansas City. Merriman has four on the year.

The Jets come in with the 30th ranked offense and 12th ranked defense. It will have to be their defense that keeps the Jets in this game. New York running back Curtis Martin should get a load of work, as the Jets will need to keep the ball out of the Chargers hands and limit their offense. The Chargers have the 11th best offense and rank 21st on defense. Vinny Testaverde will likely get the start at quarterback for New York.

Chargers linebacker Randall Godfrey will not play with the death of his sister Deidre Miller on November 1st in Georgia after being fatally shot. Ryan Krause is out and Andrew Pinnock is doubtful for the Chargers. For the Jets Derrick Blaylock, Oliver Celestin and Jay Fiedler are out, everybody else on the list is probable.

For the Denver Broncos it will be a well-deserved week off as they wait to play the Raiders next week. Good news for the team has Dwayne Carswell being released from the hospital a week after his car crash that ended his season. The Broncos will play at Oakland next Sunday.

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