A key divisional match up in the AFC West kicks off week seven of the NFL season.
State of the Division
Arguably the toughest division in football, the AFC West will likely produce at least two playoff teams. Kansas City has been an offensive explosion since their week one win over the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt has been money. Ty”freak” Hill is electric and Travis Kelce remains one of the best tight ends in football. Even with the loss to Pittsburgh, Alex Smith’s expertise in running Andy Reid’s dynamic offense efficiently.
Oakland has been teetering following their decimation of the New York Jets. An ailing Derek Carr isn’t playing completely healthy, but the Raiders have to figure it out. The offense has been stagnant and Amari Cooper has put up just 51 yards on nine receptions. Oakland will need Cooper to improve his production and avoid costly drops that keep the offense stalled.
The Denver Broncos defense will keep them in the hunt, but losing at home to the winless New York Giants without Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard is not a good look for the “No Fly Zone” defenders. Denver is tough, but poor offensive production will wear on this defense. The Broncos must figure out how to channel the offensive explosion that happened against Dallas weeks ago.
The Chargers miss San Diego, so much so that every game has the feel of an away game. The new team in Los Angeles isn’t bad team and could have actually won some of the close games they’ve lost this season. Philip Rivers can still sling it and Melvin Gordon can run, and run well. Rookie receiver Mike Williams recorded one catch for 15 yards in his regular season debut in the division win over Oakland last week. The Chargers are hoping Williams can move past the injury an become the wide receiver threat he was drafted to be.
Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) – The Chiefs look to tighten their grip over the rival Raiders tonight on Thursday Night Football. A few days removed from nearly orchestrating an epic comeback over the Steelers, Kansas City will look to make an example out of Oakland. Reid’s squad has some quality wins under their belt, beating the Patriots, Eagles, Texans and Redskins. The Chiefs are undefeated on the road this season. The momentum will need to continue as Kansas City only has one game in Arrowhead over the next four weeks.
Next four games: @Oakland, Denver, @Dallas and @New York (Giants).
Denver Broncos (3-2)– The Broncos are a quarterback away from being a complete team. The problem is, there is no quarterback on the roster than can have this team playing to its potential. Von Miller and company will have to play lights out defense to compensate for inconsistent quarterback play. Trevor Siemien has had some flashes of brilliance, but often times shows why he was picked in the seventh round. The Broncos defense will need to play at a very high level to stay in playoff contention. Fresh off the bye week, there is no way this Denver team should have dropped one at home to Eli’s Giants.
Next four games: @Los Angeles (Chargers), @Kansas City, @Philadelphia and New England.
Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)– The Chargers may not have the best record in the division, but this team is a lot better than what the record reflects. Rivers’ team was a blocked field goal away from sending it to overtime in the Mile High City. Had the game went into OT, the Chargers could have two division wins under their belt at this point in the season. The difference in two of their four losses was a combined four points. Joey Bosa has been productive, already having 5.5 sacks on the year, but he doesn’t even have the most sacks on the team. Melvin Ingram ranks third in the NFL with 7.5, trailing Dallas’s DeMarcus Lawrence (8.5) and Jacksonville’s Calias Campbell(8). Ingram will continue to produce on the defensive side of the ball, and Bosa will follow suit. The under the radar Chargers could find themselves in the mix for a playoff berth if Oakland and Denver struggle.
Next four games: Denver, @New England, @Jacksonville and Buffalo.
Oakland Raiders (2-4)– The Raiders will go as far as Derek Carr can take them. He clearly was beat up against Washington which was a prelude to the injury suffered in Denver. The Raiders have lost four straight, and must face the division leading Chiefs in primetime tonight. Tonight is a must win for Oakland, otherwise it will mark three division losses and will put them in a tough situation. Navarro Bowman will be a welcomed addition to the silver and black. He can provide a leadership and veteran presence to a defense lacking such. Khalil Mack hasn’t registered a sack in the past two weeks. The Raiders need Mack to find the quarterbacks and add to his seven sacks on the season. The Raiders will hope to knock of Kansas City to keep their heads above water. Oakland will have to contend with the AFC East for the next three weeks.
Next four games: Kansas City, @Buffalo, @Miami and New England.
Next Four Weeks Predicted Standings
Denver has the toughest schedule of the division over the next four weeks. The Broncos will only have one home game and it’s against New England. Denver’s only win may be in the final of the next four games, as they host Tom Brady and the Patriots. Kansas City will stay undefeated on the road and will prove dominance over Denver in Arrowhead. Los Angeles (Chargers) will surprise many. Rivers will lead his team to .500 with another win coming in a revenge game against Denver. Oakland could go either way over the course of the next four games. The Raiders will lose tonight, but how they perform over the rest of the AFC East is a toss-up. Expect Oakland to win just two of the next four, and possibly alone at the bottom of the division.
Kansas City – 9-1
Los Angeles (Chargers)- 5-5
Denver – 4-5