Back at the beginning of the season, I wrote an article about the Oakland Raiders and whether or not head coach Jon Gruden could handle all the big personalities he had put on the team.
Fast forward to week 15, the drama that surrounded the Raiders wasn’t just about the players they have, the players they’ve lost, and the coach, but now we get to add the fans to the mix. 2019 has been a rollercoaster for Oakland and their fans, and the tension boiled over on Sunday.
This was not what the Raiders had in mind for their final season in Oakland. In the offseason, they amassed talent and depth in order to give the fans and franchise a top-notch, competitive season. As we all know too well, those plans started to crumble before the season even got started, but even until a few weeks ago there was still a chance to make the best of it.
There is a battle brewing in the AFC West. A battle that not anyone, except the most die-hard silver and black fan, would have predicted. The Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) are sitting at the top of the division, just like those who do preseason predictions thought they would be. Yet, sitting right behind them are the Oakland Raiders (6-4). With the Chiefs on a bye week, could the Raiders pull even this weekend, setting up a race for the finish line? Week 12 in the AFC West may set the pace for that race.
The Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football in Mexico City, putting them at 3-0 in the division. Both teams now have a desperately needed bye week. The Denver Broncos (3-7) are heading up to Buffalo to play the Bills (7-3), which with the way the Bills have been playing, will be a difficult task for the struggling Broncos.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While we know that the Kansas City Chiefs are exactly who we all thought they would be this year, it’s fair to say the rest of the division is a bit of a question mark. Many had the Chargers keeping pace with the Chiefs, which they still may, and the Raiders possibly competing too.
My fellow Our Turf writers and I have often commented that you don’t really know who a team is until week 4 through 6 on the season. For the AFC West, week 4 could bring a lot of clarity for fans, and give them an idea of who their team will be this year.
It was an up and down day for the AFC West. All four teams had very tough opponents, a lot on the line, and it showed in the games.
The Kansas City Chiefs were the only undefeated team in the AFC West, the Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders had split the first two games, and the Denver Broncos were still looking for their first win of the 2019 season.
What would week 3 bring for the AFC West? Well, it was a rollercoaster for sure. One with expected losses, expected wins, and two games that were fantastic down to the last minute!
It’s the first Monday Night Football of the 2019 season, it will be a doozy of a doubleheader, and not just because of the play on the field.
One team starts their quest to revenge what they see as a stolen NFC Championship, and two teams that had some offseason drama. And then there are the Broncos, who are just trying to right the ship. Add to this what will hopefully be great games on the field, and we should have a fantastic kick-off to Monday Night Football.
Houston Texans vs New Orleans Saints 7:10p ET
I’m sure when the powers that be scheduled this matchup, they saw a team that felt cheated out of a possible Super Bowl, the Saints, and a team with a young, talented quarterback and a stout defense going head to head. And we could still get that game, but a few things have changed.
Its been often said that week 3 of the NFL preseason is the dress rehearsal for the season. As I mentioned in my NFC West injury report, Rams head coach Sean McVay has turned that theory on its head but sitting his starters, and a few other teams are following suit. This gives some unknowns extra time to shine, and increase their chances of making the team.
In the AFC West, we all know the major superstars that are starters, but who are the new guys? Who is making a strong case for themselves?