By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
It was a successful first week for the AFC West. Three of the four teams came out winners. The Denver Broncos lost to the Tennessee Titans in the last seconds of the game. The Kansas City Chiefs opened the season with a Thursday night win. The Los Angeles Chargers squeaking out a win in a low scoring affair against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Las Vegas Raiders get their first win for their new city.
While a couple of the games were close, they all showed new schemes. Looking at week 2, can we expect even more changes? Let’s take a look at each matchup, including a divisional game that could get interesting.
Denver Broncos (0-1) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)
Denver lost a close one against one of the more favored teams in the AFC, the Tennessee Titans, on Sunday. While most thought Denver could have scored more, they struggled to get the ball in the endzone. Now they will have to face the Steelers, who had a convincing win against the New York Giants in week 1.
The Broncos are having a bit of an injury bug in their locker room, so this week against a tough Steelers defense has been made even tougher. Cornerback A.J. Bouye has been placed on IR, making him unavailable for at least the next 3 weeks. Running back Phillip Lindsay has a toe issue that has him as a question mark for Sunday, although head coach Vic Fangio said his injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
The Broncos new RB Melvin Gordon had 78 yards in his debut in Denver. With Lindsay out, look for Denver to use him even more in Pittsburgh. However, the Steelers held Giants RB Saquon Barkley to just 6 yards in 15 carries. Ouch. Denver may have to look to the passing game to keep up in this one.
It is understandable why the Steelers are favored in this game. It is going to be a tough game for Denver. However, if they can keep up, or find a way to slow down the Pittsburgh offense, it will show a lot of growth for the Broncos team.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) vs Los Angeles Chargers (1-0)
The Chiefs vs Chargers matchups were fun games to watch last season. While the Chiefs won both games, including and international game in Mexico City, neither win was a huge blowout. Last week both teams won, but the reigning Super Bowl champions won in a decisive manner, while the Chargers barely made it past their opponent.
Kansas City looks exactly like what we expected them to after re-signing most of their Super Bowl winning team. However, they did add a run element to their game that wasn’t prevalent in 2019, which surprised many. Since it was just week one, it’s hard to know if that will be a regularly used part of their offense.
The Chargers held Bengals RB Joe Mixon to just 69 yards, so it’s possible they can slow down the run game of the Chiefs…if the Chiefs decide to use that game plan.
Los Angeles had struggles in their game against the Bengals and didn’t particularly look strong. And with an injury looming with defensive end Joey Bosa coming up with a tricep injury, the Chargers will have to dig deep to get a win here.
New Orleans Saints (1-0) vs Las Vegas Raiders (1-0)
The Saints get to help christen the amazing new stadium in Las Vegas, playing the Raiders in their home opener. While the Raiders are the underdog in this game, they showed in last weeks matchup against the Carolina Panthers that this offense has some spark to it.
RB Josh Jacobs had 3 touchdowns, showing he isn’t slowing down from last season’s numbers. QB Derek Carr completed 73% of his passes, quieting down the controversy that was started when the Raiders brought in QB Marcus Maritoa. Carr threw for 239 yards and 1 touchdown, spreading the ball around when passing.
Yes the Saints are the Saints, and they looked to be in stride against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, it wouldn’t surprise many if this game was closer than some imagine. The Raiders held superstar RB Christian McCaffrey to under 100 yards rushing, barely but under, and that should give them some confidence against New Orleans RB Alvin Kamara.
Under the glare of Monday Night Football lights, we will see if the Raiders can do it again.
Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG