A confusing week in the AFC West

Dayna O’Gorman
Senior NFL Reporter
NFC West/AFC West

By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG

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A blowout that no one expected, and a blowout that should have been but wasn’t. The wonder kid quarterback that can’t win, and the team without any quarterbacks at all. All of this sums up a very odd week in the AFC West. A week that was basically the definition of 2020.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Or should I say, the Bronco? In a week where the NFL saw the COVID-19 pandemic catch up to it, the Denver Broncos were probably hit the hardest. No because of the number of COVID positive players, that crown belongs to the Baltimore Ravens, but because of who it hit. An entire position group.

The Broncos were informed on Saturday that their entire quarterback room was being put on quarantine. By now we all know the details, and honestly, I think most of us expected the NFL to postpone the game between the Broncos and the New Orleans Saints. I mean they had already done it for a handful of other teams, so it was assumed this one would be too. But that didn’t happen. Instead, wide receiver Kendall Hinton was pulled off the practice squad to play in his first NFL game…and congrats kid, you get to be the starting QB!

We knew this was going to be a disaster, and it was. The Saints won 31-3, and poor Hinton was hung out to dry. It was an unfair situation that shouldn’t have happened. Many have asked if teams will quarantine a QB from now on just to avoid this exact situation. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward.

This Sunday Night Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers had been hyped all season. It was going to be the battle of QBs Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.  If you had stopped watching at halftime when the score 20-7, you would have thought the Chiefs were going to blow out the Bucs and assumed Brady was washed. Ah, but we all know better than to ever count out Tom Brady.

The Buccaneers regained their mojo in the second half, even though Brady had a couple of interceptions. They managed to pull the game to a 3 point margin late in the 4th quarter, but Chiefs head coach Andy Reid knew better than to give the ball back to Brady. The Chiefs held on and won 27-24.

While it turned out to be a good game to watch (sort of), it brought up a few questions about the seemingly unbeatable Kansas City Chiefs. They have had a harder time putting teams away and have let their opponents sneak back into the game in the second half. If they can’t figure out how to keep their foot on the pedal, some team will eventually take advantage of it.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. At this point, you have to feel bad for Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert. If you look at his statistics, you’d think they were a top tier team, but alas, that is not the case.

In the month of November, he has had 3, almost 4 games that are over 300 yards. Sadly they have only won 1 of those games. The team has won only 3 games even though they have always stayed right in the thick of the game, often leading, or within 1 score, in the 4th quarter. They just can’t finish, although at least in this game, they were playing the Buffalo Bills, who are one of the better teams in the league so it’s easier to understand. The Bills won, 27-17.

The Chargers have a couple of favorable games coming up, but you have to wonder if they don’t pull out at least a couple of more wins, will HC Anthony Lynn still have a job come next season. If you ask me, they would be fools to fire him. The talent on the Chargers is evident. Herbert is one of the better, young QBs in the league. He just needs time and consistency to develop even more. Keeping Lynn would go a long way to help that progress.

And that brings us to the Las Vegas Raiders. What the hell is wrong with the Raiders? Earlier in the year, I described them as someone who could actually compete with Kansas City. I mean they are the only team to beat the Chiefs, and they pulled off a few other nice wins. But now, I am confused as to who this team is.

It seemed like Sunday’s game against the struggling Atlanta Falcons (talk about a confusing team!) would have been an easy-ish win for Vegas. Then they got blown out 43-6. 43 to 6. Wowza.

This was QB Derek Carr’s worst game ever in his career. A complete disaster in the middle of his best year ever. It was so bad he was benched for backup QB Nathan Peterman. Add to that a couple of key injuries, and the Falcons getting their grove back, it was a recipe for HC Jon Gruden’s worse loss in his Raiders era. Las Vegas can’t have a meltdown similar to what they did last year if they plan to make the playoffs, even with the expanded field.

Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG

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