Jussel: Once again, West is best in the AFC
The world, at least our little chunk of it, is all agog at the AFC West.
Three of the monsters from the West, the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos, are 2-0. The fourth member, the Los Angeles Chargers, have lost two games in the final seconds, one of those to Denver.
Andy Reid’s Chiefs raised eyebrows by pounding the defending world champion Patriots 42-27 in New England, then defeated a good Philadelphia team 27-20 at home.
The Raiders were impressive in beating Tennessee on the road 26-16 in their opener, then crushed the hapless Jets 45-20 at home.
Denver dominated the Chargers in their home opener, going up 24-7 into the final quarter, but turned the ball over twice deep in their own territory to allow the Chargers to sneak back in it. Only a blocked field goal thwarted overtime.
Then Denver matched Kansas City’s unexpected romp over New England by blitzing the favored Dallas Cowboys 42-17 last Sunday.
The unbeaten trio has arrived via different routes.
The Chiefs have used a four-headed monster on the offensive side to score 69 points in their two games. Alex Smith has passed for 619 yards, rookie running back Kareem Hunt has rushed for 229 yards, wide receiver Tyreek Hill has 11 receptions for 176 yards and tight end Travis Kelce has 13 receptions for 143 yards. The four have accounted for 10 TDs.
Oakland has had quarterback Derek Carr throw for 492 yards and five TDs. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has been the go-to guy with three TDs on 12 receptions. Free agent running back Marshawn Lynch hasn’t exactly been beast-like, but is still a threat with 4.0 yards per carry for 120 yards.
Denver has been led by quarterback Trevor Siemian, who has thrown for 450 yards and a league-leading 6 TDs. Running back C.J. Anderson has 199 yards in his two games and Jamaal Charles has added 86. Oh yes, the Broncos have also been unexpectedly tough against the run defensively, allowing only 104 yards in the two games.
Lots of highlights, very few downturns for the threesome.
Today, all three should win. But you know how that goes; things don’t always go as planned.
The Broncos face their first road test at Buffalo. The Chiefs are in LA against the Chargers in that 30,000-seat soccer stadium. The Chargers, by the way, would have to be considered desperate at this early juncture. And the Raiders are in Washington to take on the Redskins.
If you are looking for a big game on the horizon, you might want to mark down Oct. 1. Oakland comes to Denver next Sunday.
But there is that bit of business in Buffalo today that needs dealt with.
The Bill are 1-1, having defeated the Jets at home 21-12, then pulling up lame in Carolina against the Panthers last week in a 9-3 loss.
I know, I know: It’s an 11 a.m. game on the road in the East. Everyone mentions that.
Let’s assume Bronco head coach Vance Joseph gets everyone out of bed, fed, and to New Era Field on time. Coffeed up, Denver should have the horsepower to win this one and move to 3-0.
Remember last week’s romp over Dallas? They were a team led by running back Zeke Elliott, a team with a dominant running game that could not be stopped.
Denver’s defensive front stonewalled the Cowboys, allowing only 40 yards on the ground. Elliott had 8 yards on nine carries.
Got that picture in your mind? There should be more of that today.
The Bills are a conservative offensive team, with quarterback Tyrod Taylor reluctant to go deep and tailback LeSean McCoy the recipient of handoff after handoff. McCoy rushed for more than 1,200 yards last season and added 50 receptions for another 356.
He’s a workhorse that the Broncos will have to slow today.
He’s been slowed in his first two games, gaining only 119 yards on 3.5-yards per carry.
The Broncos have three great corners. They will not need them in this one.
Taylor has thrown for just more than 150 yards per game, most of those going to McCoy out of the backfield or tight end Charles Clay.
The Bills best wideout, Jordan Mathews, has just five receptions. Their other starter, rookie Zay Jones, has two.
Denver will be able to stack defenders on the inside and key on McCoy.
Adding insult to injury, the Broncos will continue to move the ball on the ground against a beat-up Buffalo defensive line.
I’ll improve to 2-1 on the season as the Broncos move to 3-0 with a 24-13 victory.
Bring on the Raiders!