The Los Angeles Chargers (4-5) took a short trip up the coast to face the Oakland Raiders (4-4) for Thursday Night Football. While both teams will tell you that it is just another game, the loser of this match up faces a serious uphill climb to stay in the playoff race.
These teams know each other well. The divisional match up has brought Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to more times than we care to count, but this is a different Raiders team. While the Chargers have struggled this year, this game was going to be a test for the normally dominant Chargers.
The NFC West is a very competitive division almost every year. While the top spot switches regularly, its usually true that there is a heated battle every year for that spot. This breeds strong rivalries between the teams, but there is one rivalry that has been the most fierce. Seattle and San Francisco.
While the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals have done their fair share of winning within the division, it hasn’t fostered the same level of disdain that the Seahawks and 49ers have for each other. Fanbases, teams, front offices…it goes deep. And come next Monday night, the rivalry will again be on full display for everyone to see when these teams face each other on Monday Night Football.
The trade deadline has passed, and it was pretty uneventful. Yes, there were a few trades in the week leading up, but, as it often does, it ended up being a lot of rumors and wishful thinking. What this week has brought, however, is a handful of odd stories that have many shaking their heads.
Let’s start with Tom Brady. Brady, the 42yr old, future Hall of Fame, current Patriots quarterback, has never played for another team and truly no one could imagine him doing so. Until this week. I think it started with Jason La Canfora’s article saying Brady has an interest in playing for the Los Angeles Chargers next year if he’s not in New England. It snowballed after that, with fans and media grabbing the idea and running with it.
I’m not sure how it happened, but it has. We have reached the midpoint of the 2019 NFL season. The year is flying by so let’s take a few minutes to check in on the AFC West and their quarterbacks.
It has been a rollercoaster in the West, to say the least. For some teams, early season promise has turned into concern. For others, they never even got out of the gate. The media likes to put wins and losses on the shoulders of two people- the coach, and the QB. While in reality, that isn’t always where the fault lies, the quarterbacks of the AFC West are taking the punch.
The Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) are obviously not where they want to be. Many of us, and yes I’m including myself in this, thought it would be the Chargers who would battle the Kansas City Chiefs for the division. While they squeaked out a win against the Chicago Bears yesterday, not many feel the Chargers are a threat.
It has been said a lot this week that the NFC West could be one of the most competitive divisions in the league. With San Francisco being undefeated, both Seattle and Los Angeles right in the thick of it, and Arizona beginning to shine, the NFC West isn’t a division anyone else in the league wants to face anytime soon.
Looking at week 8, two of the teams face opponents that are struggling to find wins, the other two face teams that will give them some serious competition. By the end of the week, will we still believe in the strength of the division? Let’s take a look at this week’s matchups.
When you think of the AFC East, you think about the New England Patriots. They have won the division title every year since 2003, with the exception of 2008. That’s a lot of years of dominance. But with the Reign of Brady coming to an end, and with the other three teams either revamping their teams, is the AFC East becoming more competitive? This season could be a preview of what’s to come in the future.
With that said, the Patriots still have a stronghold on the division, which is no surprise to anyone. Taking a look at week 7 and beyond, what can we expect from the AFC East?
Before the season began, everyone and I mean everyone, had the Kansas City Chiefs running away with the AFC West, and possibly the Super Bowl. Six games in, things have changed and the door to the top spot in the division seems to have opened.
Injuries happen, and there is no question that the Chiefs are suffering from them. Superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes injured his ankle early in the season and has reaggravated it, in some way, in almost every game since.
There has been a noticable difference in his play, mostly in his ability to leave the pocket to escape pressure brought by the defense. His signature move, those long, beautiful passes, has also been more difficult to complete since he can’t always plant his foot. What this equals to is the once unstoppable offense has become, well…easier to stop.
I’m going to be straight with you. The subject of this article is quarterbacks and that isn’t usually my favorite subject to write about. I am a defense lover and don’t try to hide it.
However, when looking at the NFC West, one can’t ignore how the division is being dictated by the success, and lack thereof, of the quarterbacks. Because 3 of the 4 teams have fantastic defenses, its the consistency of the QBs that is really what the season will come down to. Lets take a look at these QBs and what they are bringing to the table.
There is a reason Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is constantly in the conversation for MVP this season. He is playing the best football of his career, and Seattle is benefiting greatly from it.
The AFC West proved surprising in week 5, with one divisional matchup, a London game, and a Sunday Night Football showcase. At the end of the week, Kansas City is still holding the top spot with room to spare, but they showed some vulnerability, and now there is a battle for position in the rest of the division.
The Oakland Raiders beat the Chicago Bears in London, 24-21, in what was a surprise of a game for many. While we knew the Raiders had a solid team, they are beginning to look more and more like a very good team.
The winless Broncos headed to Los Angeles to play the Chargers and came out with a win, 20-13.
The Kansas City Chiefs played the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, which many perceived to be a cakewalk for the undefeated team, but it turned out to be a fantastic battle with the Colts winning 19-13.
After the Thursday night game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks, the NFC West got really interesting. With the slugfest that happened in Seattle, it showed that fighting for every game is going to be key in this division. San Francisco 49ers are on top of the division, but with their early bye week, they have a very long road of games ahead of them. Arizona is still trying to find their identity, but if they figure it out, they could play spoiler down the way.
I decided to get a second opinion on the division and thought who better than Bill Alvstad. Bill hosts The Hawks Playbook Podcast along with Keith Myers, and I have to say, if you want brutal honesty, they are the guys to talk to.
I started with the Thursday night game, asking if Bill thought that Seattle had taken over as division favorites or if it was still way too early to tell. He said he didn’t think so.