This week’s AFC West marquee matchup pitted the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs against the 9-1 Denver Broncos.
While that game had the entire nation’s attention, the rest of the division was not to be forgotten about. Just when everyone figured the Oakland Raiders would not compete to win games the rest of the season, they again showed their will. The San Diego Chargers had a golden opportunity on the road against a Miami Dolphins team in turmoil but could not take advantage.
Here are the AFC West standouts:
McGloin, who is was an undrafted free agent, was making his first career start. He did not play like it. He only threw for 197 yards but his three touchdowns were impressive. It would be easy to say that the offense seemed to function better under him, but it was only one game. The Houston Texans’ defense had no film on what he liked to do or how the Raiders coaching staff would use him. The coming weeks will tell more of a complete story.
Boneheaded plays can cost teams dearly, and Liuget made such a play late in the second quarter. Brian Hartline fumbled the football on the two yard line and it was safety Eric Weddle recovered it, only to see it reversed due to a roughing the passer call. The hit on Ryan Tannehill was not even close. The ball was gone and Liguet took three steps before he hit him. The penalty cost the Chargers possession and allowed the Dolphins to score a touchdown. One play does not cost a team the game, but this play certainly hurt the Chargers.
Liuget admitted his shortcomings after the game to reporters via ESPN.com:
“I have to do my job, and I did it very poorly today,” Liuget said. “I had some of the biggest and costly penalties of the game. I had a pretty awful game. It was different today.”
Manning came into the game against the Chiefs with a sore ankle. Onlookers may not have been able to notice the ailment based on his performance. He was 24 of 40 for 323 yards, one touchdown, and he was never sacked. The Chiefs’ defense was supposed to be Manning’s stiffest test to date, but he was able to subdue most of their plans.
By leading his team to victory, Manning has put the Broncos in prime position to win their division and get the No.1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The Chiefs will see Manning again in two weeks, but if they don’t find a way to make him uncomfortable in the pocket, the outcome will be the same.
The Chiefs tried to open up their offense early, as much as a team can with Alex Smith at quarterback, and it did not yield results. Dwayne Bowe had four receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. He was the Chiefs’ leading receiver yardage wise. Jamaal Charles had 78 yards on 16 carries, and 35 of those yards came on one play.
If the Chiefs are going to be a factor in the playoffs, they have to work on being more explosive and efficient on offense. The challenge with that is that it takes them well outside of their comfort zone of allowing the defense to keep them in games.. However, if the Lombardi trophy is their goal, they may need to make amendments to that model. It could cost them regular season games if they were to change their playcalling, but the end could justify the means in such a scenario.
Smith and company have to be comfortable taking more chances. It makes no sense to force a change in philosophy in the playoffs without first doing it in the regular season. Against the Broncos, the offense looked unsure of itself when they had to throw the ball downfield. Kansas City won’t be an offensive juggernaut anytime soon, but fans shouldn’t be surprised when they throw the ball more than 10 yards downfield.
When you see Alex Smith go deep…it’s almost like seeing a team run a trick play….you just don’t expect it. #SNF
— Mike Hill (@ItsMikeHill) November 18, 2013
Photo Courtesy: Streeter Lecka/ Getty Images