AFC West Report: Two Of The Top Defenses Meet

NFL fans will witness a battle of pit bull-like defenses this upcoming weekend in Baltimore when San Diego comes to town in what could be a potential playoff matchup. The Chiefs and the Raiders both look to get off the snide and get their first wins of the season.

The San Diego Chargers (2-0) will play in one of the marquee matchups this weekend when they face the Baltimore Ravens (3-0) in a game that should be a good litmus test for the Chargers. This one won't be quite as easy as the first two wins against Oakland and Tennessee were for San Diego

San Diego is now the top-ranked defense in the NFL after Charlie Frye and the Cleveland Browns found success against Baltimore's defense last week. Much of that success came through the air, and the Chargers may use that as a blueprint this week. Marty Schottenheimer has eased Philip Rivers into his role as the starting quarterback, relying on a heavy dose of the ground game. Rivers may have to throw more this week, but he seems ready to accept the challenge willingly after saying this week that San Diego can only play who's on their schedule.

The San Diego defense just has to keep it close to give the Chargers a chance to win at the end. Baltimore's offense has been stagnant recently, and the Chargers will look to continue that trend this week. Baltimore running back Jamal Lewis should find it hard to get yards up the middle against a defensive front seven that San Diego defensive end Igor Olshansky said was the best in the NFL before preseason began.

It should come down to whoever can muster just enough offense to win. The Ravens defense is fierce, and while they showed a few chinks in the armor last week, the unit traditionally plays better at home. The Ravens actually come into the game as a home underdog, which should provide for some interesting locker room chat. Both the AFC West and the AFC North still look tough, so a win here is absolutely necessary to avoid wild-card tiebreakers down the road.

If it comes down to a late field goal, Matt Stover is as automatic as they come when it comes to finishing games. Nate Kaeding should also be feeling good after signing a six-year contract extension.

For San Diego, FS Bhawoh Jue is out. Listed as questionable are G Kris Dielman, T Leander Jordan, TE Ryan Krause, WR Keenan McCardell and DE Olshansky. Safety Terrence Kiel will miss the game following an arrest on felony drug charges. For Baltimore, TE Todd Heap, G Edwin Mulitalo, LB Bart Scott, DE Terrell Suggs and WR Demetreus Williams are all questionable.

The forecast for Sunday's kickoff at 1:00 EST is cloudy skies with showers and gametime temperatures around 67 degrees.

The Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) will look to get their first win against an upstart San Francisco 49ers (1-2) squad in Arrowhead Stadium. Damon Huard will get his second consecutive start after coming off the bench for Trent Green, still out with a concussion. Huard only put the ball in the air 23 times in the Chiefs 9-6 loss at Denver two Sundays ago.

The Chiefs were unable to get into the endzone against Denver, but Larry Johnson started to get on track. That should continue this week against a young 49ers defense that should spend a lot of time on the field.

Alex Smith looks a lot more like the number one quarterback and draft pick the 49ers had hoped he'd be this year than he did last year. Meanwhile, Herm Edwards and the Chiefs are confident that they have the defense to stop teams from putting up lots of points. This should be a good early season matchup for the Chiefs, even with their starting quarterback on the shelf. If the defense can perform well this week, it will boost their confidence for the rest of the season. Kansas City's defense ranks eighth overall in the NFL, its highest mark in quite some time.

Besides Green, the Chiefs are healthy. LT Kyle Turley is questionable with a back injury. LG Larry Allen and TE Vernon Davis are listed out for San Francisco. RB's Frank Gore and Maurice Davis are questionable, as is WR Taylor Jacobs and TE Delanie Walker.

The forecast at Arrowhead calls for 82 degrees with partly cloudy skies at the 1:00 CST kickoff.

The Oakland Raiders (0-2) will take on the Cleveland Browns (0-3) in a battle of winless teams this Sunday in the Black Hole. Starting quarterbacks Andrew Walter and Charlie Frye were drafted two picks apart in 2005 and they will face each other in a game that both teams need to help salvage any hope of a decent season.

Cleveland has the 30th overall offense while Oakland is ranked 32nd. The Raiders had a bye last week while the Browns choked away their game against the Ravens. Even in the loss, Cleveland started to show some signs of life on offense with Frye passing for 298 yards and a touchdown. Cleveland's offensive line did not help Frye much, allowing seven sacks.

Walter filled in for an injured Aaron Brooks in his last game and could not generate much offense, failing to get the Raiders on the board. He completed 10-of-27 passes for 162 yards, threw three interceptions and was sacked six times. The Raiders are still without a touchdown on the season.

LaMont Jordan should get the bulk of the load for Oakland while the Browns will likely stick with the air game for a good portion of the contest. This one will more than likely come down to defense.

For the Raiders, QB Brooks and LT Robert Gallery are both out. DT Orpheus Roye, WR Joe Jurevicius, CB Gary Baxter, S Brian Russel, TE Kellen Winslow and RB Reuben Droughns are questionable for Cleveland.

Gametime temperatures will be in the upper 60's with partly cloudy skies.

Denver has a bye this week and will host Baltimore on the following Monday.

Quest for 7,000: I will update this next week after each AFC West team had had its' bye.

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