Sports Out West

AFC West roundup, Week 9: Raiders’ secondary struggles, Chiefs’ offense no-shows

Allen reaches for overthrown pass in crucial fourth quarter series.

 The AFC West was reminiscent of a soap opera in Week 9 of the 2013 NFL season.

There were questionable decisions by people in charge, and a team that’s on top may be destined for a fall. An underdog that looked to be figuring things out took a huge step backwards.  Not to mention, a main character may be gone for an undetermined amount of time.

Here are the standouts from “As the AFC West Turns”: 

Alex Smith:

Can the Kansas City Chiefs be taken seriously as Super Bowl contender with Smith at quarterback?  Smith was 19-of-29 with 124 yards passing, and had no touchdowns or interceptions.  By comparison Smith’s counterpart, rookie Jeff Tuel who was making his first start, completed one less pass but threw for 100 more yards. 

It’s not all Smith’s fault.  He hit Dexter McCluster when he was wide open down the sideline for what would have been at least a 30-yard gain, and McCluster dropped the ball. Dwayne Bowe had a better week this week after his one-catch game last week with six receptions for 76 yards, but it was not enough to spark the offense.

The offense can’t ask the defense to score two touchdowns every week. Settling for field goals is not going to take the team where they want to go. 

Dennis Allen & Ken Wisenhunt

The San Diego Chargers had a golden opportunity to win their game versus the Washington Redskins on Sunday.  With just under a minute to go, the offense moved the ball down to the one-yard line, needing a touchdown to win and a field goal to tie.  They had three downs to try to score a touchdown and failed on all three.  They attempted to run the ball one time but they chose to use Danny Woodhead and didn’t use a fullback. 

With three cracks from the 1-yard line, the question has to be asked of the coaches, “Why not try to use the goal line package in order to score?”  If Ryan Mathews had fallen out of favor, that’s fine.  However, to not have your fullback in the game in that type of situation is suspect to say the least.  Woodhead is a good running back, but he’s not a power back by any means. 

The Chargers had not had great success running the ball all day, but one would like to think that they could get a yard with three chances. These are the type of games that can come back and haunt a team later in the season. 

Raiders’ secondary

No one is confusing the Oakland Raiders secondary for the Legion of Boom of the Seattle Seahawks, but no one thought they would make Nick Foles look like a Hall of Fame player.  Foles was 22-of-28 with 406 yards passing, and tied an NFL record with seven touchdowns.  It is one thing when Peyton Manning does it, but Foles is nowhere near that class of quarterback. 

Foles just didn’t dink and dunk his way to seven touchdowns.  He had touchdowns passes of 25 yards to Shady McCoy, 63 yards to Riley Cooper, and 46 yards to DeSean Jackson.  The defense had no answers for Chip Kelly’s offense.  The 49 points were the most points the team had given up since they gave up 49 to the New England Patriots in 2008. 

For a team that seemed to be finding itself after a win last week versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, it now appears that it’s back to the drawing board.

John Fox

The Denver Broncos were on their bye this week but they may have suffered the biggest loss of any team.  Coach Fox will be away from the team at least the next few weeks due to heart valve surgery according to USA Today.    The consensus may be that this is not a big loss due to the fact that Peyton Manning is the team’s quarterback, however, all one needs to do is look at the New Orleans Saints last season to see the value of the head coach. 

Fox is not seen as a fiery guy, or even considered a great strategist, but his teams are always mentally tough and well-prepared.  The Broncos should not be expected to fall out of the playoff picture or anything drastic but the loss of coach Fox could be the difference between the division title and home field advantage or being a Wild Card team.  With the Chiefs being 9-0 and the Broncos already having one loss, it is easy to see how big one game could be in the standings. 

Especially in what’s shaping up to be the best division in the NFL.       

Photo Courtesy: Sean M. Haffey

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Keenan Actkins

Keenan Actkins is an Arizona resident living in the Phoenix metropolitan area. He brings a wealth of sports knowledge and passion to the team with his unique insight and strong voice and opinion. He also contributes to Yahoo! Voices and has written for WoodyPaige.com.