The Denver Broncos started the season looking like they and current AFC West leader Kansas City were on a collision course for a run to the Super Bowl.
Both clubs won their first four games. Then, the Broncos (now 6-5) lost to Kansas City (now an NFL-best 10-1) 24-23. That loss started a string of five losses over the course of seven games.
Denver, which visits Oakland Sunday, lost to the Chicago Bears 19-10 at home last Sunday despite rushing for 200 yards as a team with Clinton Portis gaining 165 of those yards. The Broncos, who thrashed Oakland 31-10 in Week 3, amassed 114 yards in penalties.
"We've been hit by the injury bug and we've lost some close games," Portis said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday. "It was a bad feeling to lose to Chicago at home."
Portis on Buchanon
Local media has skewered Oakland punt returner/cornerback Phillip Buchanon for his episode in the Raiders 27-24 loss at Kansas City last Sunday.
Buchanon was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after taking off his helmet after a 27-yard punt return. Portis was a college teammate of Buchanon at Miami (Fla.) on its 2001 national championship season.
"In the offseason I'll get him but now is not the time," Portis said. "He means well. I don't think he's trying to do anything to hurt his team. If the Raiders don't want him, let him go. I'm sure there's plenty of teams that will put up with him."
For Oakland: DT John Parrella (groin) is out. S Rod Woodson (knee/quad) is doubtful. G Mo Collins (knee), S Derrick Gibson (neck), C Barret Robbins (knee), and DT Dana Stubblefield (ankle) are questionable. S Anthony Dorsett (leg) and G Frank Middleton (quad) are probable. … For Denver: TE Shannon Sharpe (ribs) and LB Al Wilson (neck) are questionable. DT Mario Fatafehi (ribs), WR Ed McCaffrey (thigh), C Tom Nalen (ankle), G Dan Neil (thumb), QB Jake Plummer (foot), RB Clinton Portis (heel), TE Jeb Petzier (shoulder), T Ephraim Salaam (knee), LB Donnie Spragan (foot) and LB Jashon Sykes (knee) are probable.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org