Final Word: AFC West

October, 22, 2010
10/22/10
4:00
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 7:

Can the Chiefs bounce back? The Kansas City Chiefs will look to come back from a stinging 35-31 loss at Houston when they play host to the Jaguars Sunday. Against the Texans, Kansas City led 24-14 early in the fourth quarter before collapsing. After the game, Chiefs coach Todd Haley said the team was very angry and he said he was glad to see that emotion. The Chiefs are young and Haley has to make sure they channel their anger the right way and take it out on the Jaguars. If so, this team will be headed in the right direction.

[+] EnlargeBroncos
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireDenver is tied for second place in the AFC West and starts divisional play against the Raiders Sunday.
This is Denver’s time to make a run: Denver has played six games and none have been against AFC West competition. The run in the division starts Sunday against the visiting Raiders. If the 2-4 Broncos -- tied for second place in the division with the Chargers and Raiders -– can win the majority of their six games against AFC West competition, they could get into the race. Denver’s playoff push starts Sunday.

Raiders are giving up way too many big plays: The Raiders are giving up big plays on defense at an alarming rate. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Oakland is leading the league in allowing run plays of 20 yards or more with eight. Oakland is also susceptible to the big play in the passing game. It is tied for the third worst mark in the NFL by allowing nine pass plays of 30-plus yards. Expect Denver to try to exploit Oakland’s porous defense Sunday. It’s no wonder the 2-4 Raiders haven’t shown improvement. It is difficult to win if you keep giving up big plays.

Chargers need balance on offense: Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. believes a big reason why the Chargers fell to 2-4 in an upset loss at St. Louis is because San Diego ran the ball just 14 times. San Diego, which had the No. 31 run offense in the NFL last year, enjoyed more balance for most of the early season. But against the Rams, the Chargers had to concentrate on throwing the ball in an attempt to catch up after falling behind 17-3 in the second quarter. This offense is much better when it uses rookie running back Ryan Mathews and talented backup Mike Tolbert. Against the Patriots on Sunday, the Chargers can’t afford to fall behind and become one dimensional again.

Oakland needs more from receivers: Much has been made of the lack of production of Oakland’s 2009 No.1 pick Darrius Heyward-Bey. But the Raiders’ other starting receiver, Louis Murphy, isn’t producing much either. Oakland has just 33 catches from Murphy, a fourth-round pick in 2009, and Heyward-Bey combined. Murphy has 19 catches and Heyward-Bey has 14. There are 15 players in the NFL who have at least 33 catches this season. Murphy has been more productive than Heyward-Bey, but he has not shown he’s ready to be a No.1 receiver. He has just four catches total in the past three games. The Raiders need one of these players to step up, especially since the injured Chaz Schilens will be likely be out at least another week or two with a knee ailment. It will be interesting to see if the Raiders take Heyward-Bey or Murphy out of the starting lineup in favor of Schilens, who has shown a lot of promise despite having injury concerns.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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