The season is coming to a close, but teams are still playing hard in the AFC West. The division got two wins over the weekend and came close to a third. Let’s take a closer look at Week 16 in the AFC West with the good, the bad, and the ugly:
Good – The Denver offense started fast on Sunday and really looked to be clicking as the playoffs approach. Peyton Manning strengthened his case for the MVP completing 30 of 43 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns. Manning completed passes to six different receivers, including Demaryius Thomas, who caught nine passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. Since they’ll likely have a first-round bye, Denver’s offense needs to be sharp late in the season, and they certainly looked sharp against the Browns.
Bad – Manning made just one mistake in the game, and it was the interception he threw in the end zone right before halftime. The Broncos looked poised to take a commanding 21-3 into the locker room until Manning turned the ball over, which gave the Browns some hope heading into halftime.
Ugly – Both Trindon Holliday and Jim Leonhard muffed punt returns on Sunday. For Holliday, this has been a recurring theme, as he has fumbled six times this season, even though he has only lost one. Meanwhile, Leonhard is supposed to be the sure-handed alternative to the turnover-prone Holliday, so him having trouble fielding a punt just piles on to the concerns the Broncos have in that area heading into the playoffs, where turnovers and special teams mishaps are magnified and can prove disastrous.
Good – Jamaal Charles had an incredible game, running wild against the Colts all afternoon. Charles ran for 226 yards on 22 carries, including an 86-yard touchdown run to start the second half, which got the Chiefs back in the game and gave them a chance to win. Lost in the Chiefs ineptness this year is the great season Charles is having running the ball.
Bad – Against a defense that he should have fared well against, Brady Quinn did not have a good game. Considering the help he got from the running game, Quinn should have been a lot better than he was, completing 10 of 22 passes for 162 yards and two interceptions. Quinn has gotten an opportunity start late in the season, but he has not taken advantage of his chance, and that’s exemplified in another poor performance against a mediocre Indianapolis defense.
Ugly – The inefficiency displayed by the Kansas City offense was astounding. The Chiefs outgained the Colts 507 yards to 288 yards, but still managed just 13 points. The Chiefs committed three turnovers and made just two trips into the red zone, but came away with no points on those trips.
Good – The Oakland defense played a solid game for the fourth consecutive week. For the most part, the explosive Cam Newton was kept under wraps. Newton did enough to get the win, but that had more to do with Oakland’s poor game on offense than anything their defense did. The improvement the Raiders have made on defense the last few weeks hasn’t paid off much in the win column, but it’s been there and it’s been nice to see.
Bad – The Raiders used three different quarterbacks, which is never a good sign. Carson Palmer was knocked out of the game because of an injury early on, forcing the Raiders to go with Matt Leinart. Leinart completed 50% of his 32 passes for just 115 yards, averaging 3.6 yards per pass. Terrelle Pryor was initially passed over when Palmer got hurt, which isn’t a good sign for the second-year player, but he did get some playing time and completed the only pass he threw for five yards.
Ugly – The Raiders and Panthers played one of the ugliest games of the season on Sunday. There were far too many incidents in which words and shoves were exchanged between the teams. There were also six unnecessary roughness penalties, including one on the play in which Palmer was injured. It was an ugly game, exactly the kind you would expect between two teams that have little to play for at this point in the season.
Good – The San Diego defense came away with an astounding 11 sacks against the Jets. Rookie Kendall Reyes had a breakout game with 3.5 sacks. Linebacker Shaun Phillips was close behind with 2.5 sacks and rush end Corey Liuget added 2 sacks of his own. The Chargers gave quite a rude awakening to Jets quarterback Greg McElroy in his first NFL start.
Bad – The Chargers still don’t have much of a running game, and it didn’t help that Ryan Matthews is injured. Jackie Battle got a bulk of the carries, but only managed 49 yards on 19 rushes. San Diego did not have a running play that went for longer than nine yards, as once again they left it up to Philip Rivers to do most of the work offensively.
Ugly – San Diego made three trips into the red zone, and came away with just three total points, and even those came on a chip shot field goal in the 4th quarter after the Chargers were in control of the game. For a team that isn’t used to getting a lot of scoring opportunities inside the 20-yard line, they certainly didn’t do a whole lot to take advantage of them.