Denver: Offensive Line
The Broncos’ front five were dominant in their 27-17 victory over the Chiefs. Protecting their banged-up quarter back was a focal point for them coming into the game, and Peyton Manning wasn’t knocked to the turf once the entire evening. The league-leading Kansas City pass rush only registered two quarterback hits, and not a single sack or knockdown. The Broncos run-blocking was also solid, as the rushing attack went over a hundred yards, and Monte Ball ran for two touchdowns.
Kansas City: Staying Composed
The Chiefs came out of the locker room tight, and looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights for most of the first half. But when they fell behind 27-10 on the road, they didn’t go into a shell. The Chiefs kept fighting, and refused to let Denver pull away. They cut the gap to 10 in the fourth quarter, and had a chance to make it a one-score game but couldn’t convert. This will show up as a loss for the Chiefs, but this young team earned a moral victory on the road in refusing to quit, and hanging in there with the class of the NFL. Expect to see a more confident Kansas City squad the next time these two meet.
Oakland: Offensive Efficiency
The Raiders offense had perhaps their most efficient game of the season in a 28-23 victory at Houston. Rookie starter Matt McGloin threw three touchdown passes, and more importantly kept the ball secure and didn’t throw a single interception. Unheralded running back Rashad Jennings continued his career year, rushing for 150 yards including bolting for an 80 yard touchdown. The Raiders didn’t fumble either, and winning the turnover battle was the key to their victory.
San Diego: Nick Novak
When a team only muster 16 points in a loss to a Miami Dolphins team that is making more news in the tabloids than on the turf, it’s hard to pick anything good. But I guess I’ll go with the kicker. He did his job, right? Novak converted all 3 field goals he attempted, including one 50 yarder.
In a satisfying 10 point victory for the Broncos, one area that the club can improve on is committing penalties. The game could have been more lopsided if the Chiefs weren’t able to accept 13 penalties for 132 yards. Perhaps the most concerning aspect is that almost half of these were pre-snap penalties at home, indicating a lack of discipline. If the Broncos want to remain dominant on the road, especially in a few weeks at the notoriously loud Arrowhead Stadium, they’ll have to get this under control.
Kansas City: Losing in All Three Phases
On Sunday the Chiefs lost the battle on offense, on defense, and on special teams. Defensively, the Kansas City pass rush couldn’t get enough pressure on Manning, and the secondary struggled to stay with the Denver receivers. As a team Denver put up 27 points and 427 yards of total offense. On the other side, the Kansas City offense couldn’t capitalize when the defense did manage to make plays, specifically to start the second half. The Chiefs defense forced back-to-back three and outs to open the third quarter in a 17-10 game, but the offense could not take advantage of a momentum swing and didn’t move the ball at all. The offense struggled when they had to come from behind, and couldn’t be effective when they became one-dimension. Denver also won the special teams battle, especially in the punting game when field position became crucial.
San Diego: Offensive Execution
The Chargers are in a tailspin, and falling to the Miami Dolphins puts an exclamation point on that sentiment. San Diego scored one first quarter touchdown, and then didn’t sniff the end zone grass again. Ryan Matthews did run for 127 yards, but couldn’t find the end zone on his 19 carries and was caught from behind on his 51 yard scamper. To become a playoff contender, the Chargers cannot be settling for field goals, especially against the team that just gave the lowly Buccaneers their first win of the season a week before on primetime television.
Oakland: Special Teams
The Raider special teams were simply mediocre in their victory. Keyshawn Martin brought a Marquette King punt 87 yards to pay dirt for the Texans, and 7 of King’s punts were returned on the afternoon. Sebastian Janikowski missed his lone field goal attempt, and the big-legged kicker only notched two touchbacks on five kickoff attempts in Houston’s indoor stadium. Their return game wasn’t particularly effective either, as they couldn’t crack 30 yards on any of their kickoff run-backs, and only averaged 7 yards on punts.
Wes Welker left the game with a concussion, and given the nature of head-injuries his return date is anyone’s guess.
The Chiefs lost their perfect season, as well as a head to head matchup that could leave them going on the road wild-card weekend.
The Chargers simply dropped a game to Miami in the midst of the Jonathan Martin saga, which is ugly in a league of its own.
Despite not turning the ball over, the Raiders were forced to punt 11 times in their win.