Chargers Crush Titans; Chiefs, Raiders are Pretenders
by Nate Winkler
AFC West Correspondent & Calaveras County Frog Jumping Champion
Week two's Sunday afternoon was filled with some exciting games that came down to the last few seconds. The AFC West wasn't involved in any of those, as all three games were traffic-beaters.
San Diego feasted on the visiting Tennessee Titans while Kansas City and Oakland were Eastbound and Down after allowing five touchdowns each in losses to AFC East counterparts.
The Chargers will wait to see if the Denver Broncos can keep pace on Monday night but the Chiefs and Raiders are already digging themselves into early season holes after optimism prevailed throughout the pre-season.
Here are Five Things we learned from week two:
1. The San Diego Chargers just threw a brick through the "championship window" that was supposedly closing
After being overlooked much of the off-season in favor of some chick picks (Broncos, Chiefs) in the division, the Chargers have gotten off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2006. Phillip Rivers did throw an interception on Sunday, but the offense was otherwise in-sync all day and destroyed the Titans 38-10. Rivers ended up with 268 yards and 8.6 YPA, and San Diego had 27 first downs to Tennessee's nine. The Chargers ran 35 more offensive plays than the Titans (75-40) while out-gaining them 416 to 212 in total yards.
For the second week in a row the Chargers Defensive Hogs were stout against a premier running back, allowing 17 yards on eight carries (2.1 YPA) to "C.J. Too Paid" and just 38 yards on the ground overall. San Diego has now allowed 83 yards on 30 carries (2.76 YPA) against Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson in its first two games after having the 22nd ranked Defensive Hogs last season.
2. The Kansas Chiefs look like they'll be competing for a top five draft pick instead of a playoff spot
Something had to give after both the Chiefs and the Bills gave up 40+ points in Week One. In this case, it was the Kansas City defense. Despite getting Tamba Hali & Brandon Flowers back, the Chiefs allowed the Bills to dictate the game with 201 rushing yards on 36 attempts (5.6 YPA) as part of a 35-17 thrasing. C.J. Spiller scored the game's first two touchdowns and now has 292 rushing yards on 29 attempts (10,07 YPA) with three touchdowns through two games.
Despite throwing just 19 passes, Ryan Fitzpatrick was ultra-efficient with 192 passing yards (9.4 YPA), 2 touchdowns, zero sacks, and zero interceptions thrown (120.9 QB Rating). The Chiefs allowed a special teams touchdown for the second week in a row and were trailing 35-3 at the end of the third quarter. The Bills took their foot off the gas in the final period, not calling a single passing play while allowing two Dwayne Bowe touchdown receptions against soft coverage.
Kansas City is now 1-8 all time at Buffalo dating back to 1978, with their lone win coming in 1986.
3. Ryan Tannehill wishes he could play the Raiders twice a year
With the Raiders spotty record traveling to Miami (now 1-5 since 1990), this game had to be circled on Joe Philbin's schedule as one they had to win. Conversely, after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory last week ,the Oakland Raiders couldn't afford to fall to 0-2 if they wanted to avoid that "Same Old Raiders" feeling from creeping in.
Tannehill was an efficient 18/30 (60%) for 200 yards with one TD and zero turnovers, but it was the Reggie Bush show on Sunday as the vacated Heisman winner rushed for 172 yards on a career-high 26 carries (6.62 YPA) with two touchdowns. The Raiders gave up 263 yards rushing on 6.1 YPA and allowed the Dolphins to convert 9/17 (52%) third down conversions.
The Dolphins won their home opener for the first time since 2005 and the Raiders are 0-2 for the first time since 2007.
4. The AFC West is downright dreadful on the road in the AFC East
Put another way, the AFC East kicks the AFC West in the junk in nearly three out of every four home contests.
The Chiefs and Raiders blowout losses make the AFC West 13-31 (.295) when visiting the AFC East since re-alignment prior to the 2002 season.On Sunday the two squads lost by a combined score of 70-30 and allowed 464 rushing yards in a match-up of the respective divisions' bottom feeders. It leaves the AFC East looking like the Big 10 to the AFC West's PAC-12.
Both the Chiefs and the Raiders could be staring 0-3 right in the face as Kansas City travels to New Orleans in week three while the Pittsburgh Steelers pay a visit to Oakland.
There have been 20 AFC Wild-Card qualifiers since going to the four-by-four division format, and the AFC West has had the least amount of qualifiers with three (2006, Chiefs; 2003 and 2004 Broncos).
A look at the standings shows 20 of the 32 NFL teams will finish Week 2 with a 1-1 record, with the Raiders and Chiefs jockeying for early draft positioning with the likes of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, and Tennessee Titans. As early as the season is, the Chiefs and the Raiders are failing to live up to regular season expectations.
5. There are two above average quarterbacks in the AFC West, and neither went to USC.
Carson Palmer has been wholly uninspiring in the first two games of this season despite averaging 47 attempts per game. His timidness in throwing the ball down field against the Chargers led to a pedestrian 6.5 YPA as it appeared he was afraid to make a mistake. The Heisman-winning USC Trojan completed a Tebowian 50 percent of his 48 attempts on Sunday in Miami to what may be the only receiving corps in the NFL that is worse than the Dolphins.
The Kansas City Chiefs have yet to hold a lead after 120 minutes of football this season and Matt Cassel has thrown 70 of his 75 pass attempts (93.3%) while his team has trailed. He has as many interceptions (3) as he does touchdown passes. The Chiefs' defense has now allowed 41 first-half points, forcing Cassel to try to make throws above his skill level. When the explosive Jamaal Charles ends up with 6 carries for 3 yards (0.5 YPC), something has gone horribly wrong and you're getting blown out.
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