It was a mostly down week for the AFC West in Week 2, but we have plenty for our Week 3 division stock watch. Here we go.
Kansas City Chiefs in standings: On the steam of a convincing, 28-10, victory in Oakland, Kansas City was the only team in the AFC West to win in Week 2. The Chargers were upset on the road in Detroit and the Broncos lost a soul crusher at home to Chicago. The division, which is still very good, of course, had three 1-0 teams heading into the week. Now, the Chiefs are 2-1, the Chargers and Raiders are both 1-1 and the Vic Fangio’s are 0-2. It wouldn’t be shocking if the Chiefs never look back.
Chiefs’ defense: Lost in the Chiefs 28-point second-quarter explosion in Oakland was a strong performance in Oakland. The Raiders had their way in the first quarter, taking a 10-0 lead. But the Kansas City defense settled down and blanked the Raiders for the final three quarters. The Chiefs’ defense set the tone and made plays when it needed to. After a somewhat shaky performance in Jacksonville in Week 1, the Kansas City defense looked as improved as it was supposed to be. If the Chiefs can continue to shut down offenses, forget about it.
Broncos, Chargers’ defenses: Yes, the Chargers and the Broncos lost in Week 2. But their defenses both played well in defeat. The season is long and salvageable for most teams in the NFL. So, making fast progress on the defensive side of the ball is something that can be built on despite the close losses for both teams.
Chargers’ kicking game: It seems the same things haunt the Chargers year after year, from San Diego to the cute little soccer field in Orange County – injuries, kicking woes and heartbreaking losses. Year after year.
The banged-up Chargers suffered another tight loss, in Motown and the kicking game obviously played a role. With kicker Mike Badgley hurting, punter Ty Long had to perform the kicking duties. It didn’t go well. Long missed two manageable field goals that would have increased the Chargers’ lead in an eventual, 13-10, loss. The Chargers should be AFC contending but this type of unnecessary loss could haunt them.
Garett Bolles: The heat is on the Denver Broncos’ left tackle. The former first-round pick has struggled early in his career. Bolles had a brutal game Sunday in a 16-14 loss to the Chicago Bears. He was flagged four times for holding. The Bears accepted three of those four calls. Two of Bolles’ holding calls wiped out critical long runs by Denver running back Phillip Lindsay. Bolles has been on thin ice for awhile. This performance will not soon be forgotten in Denver.
Raiders receiving depth: We are seeing the fallout of the Antonio Brown fiasco. It’s easy to think the Raiders added by subtraction by finally releasing the troubled Brown earlier this month. But the reality is the Raiders planned their entire 2019 offseason around Brown, whom they acquired from Pittsburgh for third and fifth-round picks at the start of the league year.
Simply put, the Raiders were counting on Brown to be their focal point of the offense. His departure, 48 hours before the start of the season, caused a depth problem in Oakland. Free-agent addition Tyrell Williams moved up from No. 2 to No. 1. Williams has been fine in his new role.
The problem is what behind Williams’ on Oakland’s receiver depth chart. Not much thus far. Derek Carr’s passes to Williams in Week 2, according to the Associated Press, averaged more than 10 yards a pass. Carr’s passed to all the Raiders’ other receivers averaged just over two yards in the air. Veteran Ryan Grant had a terrible game and fifth-round draft pick, Hunter Renfrow, is still adjusting to life in the NFL. This is a situation worth watching.
Oakland may have to hope tight end Darren Waller, who can stretch the field, can have a big year as a receiver as Jared Cook did last year when the tight end was Oakland’s best receiving option. Whatever the case, barring big growth behind Williams, the Raiders will be looking for receiver impact again next offseason.