It was a weird week, as the 0-4 Broncos and 2-2 Raiders came away with hard-fought wins away from home, and the Chiefs/Chargers both faltered at home.
The Chargers (2-3) had a real opportunity yesterday to right the ship vs a reeling (1-4)Bronco team, but got stomped on in Denver’s best defensive performance of the year.. Final score 20-13.
For the Chargers offense, literally nothing went right. It was one of the worst games I’ve seen Rivers play in YEARS, finishing 33/48 with 211 yards and 2 picks (1 wasn’t his fault but the other was VERY much a terrible play). Let’s be clear, the Bronco’s secondary is NOT good. There should have been a lot more holes opening up for him, but he just couldn’t get there. In fact, if it wasn’t for the entirely useless final drive where Denver was in protect, He would have finished with 27/42 with 150 yards. Think about that. The offensive line did him no favors, constantly allowing Miller and Malik Reed to penetrate the line and pressure him. Lynn didn’t really seem to have a gameplan together for the return of Melvin Gordon either, and he struggled to the tune of 2.6 YPC.
For the Broncos, this was a fantastic way to start a game. Fangio had a great offensive tempo that finally included a consistent infusion of Phillip Lindsay along with the passing game. They scored on their opening back to back drives with a hard Lindsay rush and a 70-yard catch and run by Sutton. Flacco was otherwise decent except for taking 3 sacks (one of which pushed them out of FG range) but wasn’t used a ton because the run game was so great. Lindsay finished with 114 yards on 15 carries and Freeman had 13 for 61 yards. This is the way you win with this offense, in my opinion. Let Lindsay and Freeman run wild and the passing game will open up. Flacco will always be dependable in the intermediate game which will limit mistakes and help them maintain TOP.
Defensively for the Chargers, it was ALSO a disaster. Roderic Teamer lead the team in tackles but had yet another fuck up that lead to a score. On the Sutton catch and run, Teamer slowed up on pursuit because he saw Rayshawn Jenkins make contact with him, and by the time he realized Sutton shook it off he was gone. Follow through on EVERY PLAY, man. The run defense was, and stop if you’ve heard this before over the last decade, pathetically bad. Everything was bad. Credit to Bosa and Nwosu who both had strong sacks, and Tillery as well for getting his first career takedown.
This Denver’s strongest defensive outing of the year, and a great sign of promise who expected Fangio to be, well, Fangio. They held a team averaging 372 YPG to only 246 and not a single offensive touchdown. They didn’t have a sack but they pressured Rivers plenty, forcing him into bad throws and cutting him off before he could finish his progression read. Simms took in a tipped balled for an easy INT and Alexander Johnson picked off a much harder ball later on. These two plus the forced fumbled by Kareem Jackson left their turnover total at 3, which is 3 more than they’ve had all year long. The big takeaway is that Malik Reed is more than a serviceable fill-in for Chubb. He was all over the field, stopping the run and pressing Rivers all game long.
LA Notes: This season is basically over and they’re in one of the worst positions to be in right now. In this division, they’re not going to beat KC for the top spot so their only hope for playoffs would be to get a shit ton of wins and get the wildcard like last year. That’s clearly not going to happen with the injuries and personnel available this year. What’s worse is that so many teams are tank-level bad this year so the odds at getting anything other than a bubble pick are low. It is what it is. Mike Pouncey took a hit in neck, left the game and didn’t return. Easton Stick, Justin Jackson, Hunter Henry, Michael Badgley, Melvin Ingram, Nasir Adderley and Cortez Broughton were inactive. The Chargers are playing Pittsburgh and their 3rd string QB at home for SNF.
Denver Notes: They’re in a worse spot to LA re: playoff chances, but they’re way better position to end the year with good draft positioning. I know it’s early to be talking about this, but just remember they have their 1st-3rd picks as wells as the steelers 3rd rounder. They have plenty of later round picks as well to use for a deal if they’re interested as well. De’Vante Bausby had a really bad accidental helmet-to-helmet and had to be carted off in the second quarter. He has movement which is a great sign, so prayers up for a quick recovery. Juwann Winfree, Bryce Callahan, Josey Jewell, Ja’Wuan James, Calvin Anderson, Troy Fumagalli, and Adam Gotsis were all inactive. Denver plays the Titans in Mile High.
(3-2)Oakland took the 14 hour trip across the pond and spoiled the Khalil Mack revenge game, winning 24-21.
On offense, Josh Jacobs. That’s all. Just in case you didn’t hear me: JOSH JACOBS! 26 carries, 123 yards, 2 touchdowns. He was cutting up the Bears top-5 rushing defense all game, finding holes and showing off his power/speed skills. Derek Carr didn’t find the endzone, but finished with 229 yards and no interceptions (one bad fumble that was Jacob’s fault technically). he spread the ball out to 9 different targets (no Tyrell Williams today) and none of them had a huge game, but damn if Trevor Davis doesn’t look like the fastest man alive. I don’t even blame him for the goal line fumble which may have been the best punch of all time. The offensive line also looked much improved, with Kolton Miller somehow holding Mack in check to the tune of zero sacks.
On defense, they took advantage of a team working with a new starting QB in Chase Daniel and sacked him four times as well as picking him off twice. Mo Hurst had 2 of the sacks and Mad Maxx Crosby got his first of hopefully many for his career. While the secondary was ok for most of the game, Gareon Conley struggled hard vs Allen Robinson. Both of Robinson’s touchdowns came with Conley in coverage, and he was mostly abused outside of his game ending interception which was admittedly a gimme.
Notes: Mitch or no Mitch, this was a tough game. making a 14 hour trip to play a stout defensive unit is hard, and they really battled to win this one. There’s a lot of fight in this team on both sides of the ball, and they look totally energized. If this young defensive line continues to improve the way they have been and Josh Jacobs continues to be a stud, there is a real chance that they compete for the wildcard if you look at their remaining schedule. Clelin Ferrell, Dwayne Harris, Gabe Jackson, DeShone Kizer, J.J. Nelson, Brandon Parker and Tyrell Williams were all inactive. The team travels to Green Bay on sunday. Also, what a great day for the raiders social media person.
In one of the more confusing games this year, the (4-1) Chiefs fell at home to the Colts 19-13.
The offense looked like they were back on track after last week’s hiccup, scoring on their first two possessions with a FG and 28-yard strike to Byron Pringle. Things went downhill after that, though, as they were unable to the get the run game going and the penalties racked up in a bad way. They only managed 36 rushing yards total despite Williams being back, and totalled 125 penalty yards. Mahomes was also taken down 4 times and hit seemingly endlessly. Pat is already a god-level quarterback from a talent perspective, but it’s hard to do much when the team is constantly getting flagged and they don’t give him more than 3 seconds to get the ball out.
On defense, they were actually playing a decent game. They didn’t sack Brissett, but they had plenty of pressure throughout most of the game. If this were a regular KC offense day, it really wouldn’t have made much of a difference. They limited Indy on their side of the field to a single rushing TD, forcing them into 4 FGs instead. They struggled with Marlon Mack a lot, letting him rush for 132. Honey Badger had a really nice pick with the game tied, which I thought was going to be the turning point of the game.
Notes: It was just a weird game. Andy Reid is usually good for one of these a year, so I wouldn’t read too much into it. Hopefully they can take the week to get healthier and reload before hosting the Texans on Sunday. Anthony Hitchens, Sammy Watkins, Chris Jones, Andrew Wylie and Xavier Williams all left the game. Tyreek Hill Dorian O’Daniel, Darwin Thompson, Greg Senat, Eric Fisher, Nick Allegretti and Alex Okafor were all inactive.