Week 11 in the AFC West saw the Broncos take control of the division with a win over the Chargers while the Raiders and Chiefs both continued to freefall. Let’s explore further with the good, the bad, and the ugly:
Good – The Denver pass rush continues to be a menacing force for opposing quarterbacks. Von Miller led the way once again with three sacks against the Chargers. The pass rush was a big part of forcing three turnovers (two interceptions and one fumble) and holding the Chargers to just three third-down conversions in 16 attempts. Even when they weren’t getting sacks or turnovers, they were getting in the head of quarterback Philip Rivers and forcing him to make inaccurate throws.
Bad – Peyton Manning was not at his sharpest on Sunday against the Chargers. He overthrew his receivers on several occasions, especially in the first half. He also had a couple of balls that were tipped at the line of scrimmage, one of which was picked off and taken back for a touchdown. He finished the game strong, but all around it was not his best effort.
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Ugly – It’s a bit nit-picky, but the Broncos struggled in the red zone against San Diego’s defense. In four trips Denver came away with just one touchdown and three field goals. That’s not good efficiency and certainly not what you would expect from a Peyton Manning led team.
Good – The Chiefs aren’t very good, but at least they’re trying to stick to the things that they’re good at, which for them is running the ball. Running back Jamaal Charles got 17 carries and ran for 87 yards while also catching four passes for 31 yards. Going to the running game did help them take a lead early in the game. Kansas City has now held a lead in regulation two weeks in a row, which is something that didn’t happen at all the first nine weeks of the season.
Bad – Two quarterbacks played on Sunday, and neither faired very well. Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn combined for 30 pass attempts and less than six yards per attempt. Quinn had the disadvantage of coming into the game after the Chiefs were down, but neither had any success throwing down field. It didn’t help matters that wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and right tackle Branden Albert both left the game with injuries.
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Ugly – The fans at Arrowhead Stadium have just about reached their breaking point. A strong contingent of fans dressed in black on Sunday to express their dismay at ownership, imploring them to part ways with the head coach and general manager. When a fan base this loyal and this passionate starts turning their backs, it means that things have gotten bad; so much so that some have even started putting paper bags over their heads, which is about as low as it gets.
Good – Opportunity knocked and Marcel Reece was there to answer it. With Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson still out due to injury, Reece was the feature running back for the Raiders and ran for 103 yards on 19 carries while also leading Oakland in receiving with 90 yards on four catches. Reece is a talented player who’s capable of contributing in a lot of ways, and the Raiders will need him to continue to contribute like this until McFadden and Goodson can get back on the field.
Bad – It’s not just in Kansas City where the frustration is mounting, it’s happening in Oakland too. After the team’s third consecutive loss Raider’s owner Mark Davis expressed his unhappiness with the way the season has gone, in comments that were likely directed at first-year general manager Reggie McKenzie and first-year head coach Dennis Allen, which is not a good sign for the direction of the organization.
Ugly – The Raider’s defense continues to look horrific, giving up 38 points to the Saints. Oakland has now surrendered 135 points over its last three games, which is an average of 45 points per game: an unacceptable amount. They were also held without a sack and had just two tackles for a loss, and with just seven incomplete passes, the New Orleans offense got positive yards on nearly every play.
Good – They did give up 30 points in their loss to the Broncos, but San Diego’s defense put together a strong effort on Sunday. It was the defense that kept the Chargers in the game, as they scored nine points, including a safety, and held Denver to a field goal three times in their four trips into the red zone. Also, the fast-moving and high-scoring Denver offense was held to under 400 total yards, which should be considered an accomplishment.
Bad – The San Diego offense has very little balance to it, as they have almost no running game. The Chargers haven’t scored a rushing touchdown since week five and against the Broncos they managed just 53 yards rushing. As a result, Denver showed no respect for San Diego’s ability to run the ball, which allowed their pass rush to pin their ears back and go all out.
Ugly – The offensive line was atrocious against the Broncos, as the pass protection was just not holding up in front of Rivers. At one point, the Charger’s offensive line missed a slide call, allowing Von Miller to get into the backfield untouched and easily knock Rivers to the ground. The punt protection was also shaky, allowing a punt to be blocked for the second consecutive week.