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Friday, October 15, 2010
Final Word: AFC West

By Bill Williamson

» NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge entering Week 6:

Philip Rvers
Philip Rivers and the Chargers pulled off a dramatic turnaround in 2009 after starting the season poorly. Can they do it again?
Can the Chiefs pass the Texans’ test? The way to beat the Houston Texans this season is through the air. Houston has by far the worst pass defense in the NFL. It is allowing 329.6 passing yards a game and opposing teams throw on the Texans all day long. The problem is, the Chiefs have the No. 27 pass offense in the NFL and average 158 yards in the air. Kansas City uses the pass as a complement to its fine run offense, which is ranked third in the league. But Chiefs coach Todd Haley will have to unleash quarterback Matt Cassel this week. If the Texans are going to give you the pass, you must take it.

Can the Chargers rebound again? For the fourth time in as many seasons under coach Norv Turner, the San Diego Chargers have started with a 2-3 record. The past three seasons, San Diego has rebounded and won the AFC West. In 2007, San Diego won its final six games of the season after starting 5-5. In 2008, San Diego won its final four games after starting 4-8. Last season, the Chargers won their final 11 games of the season. The Chargers have 11 games remaining. Are they ready to go on another run? This team is good, but it’s terrible on special teams and sloppy on offense. The Chargers are 0-3 on the road as they head to St. Louis on Sunday. Perhaps this will be the beginning of another streak.

Can the Raiders make a run? According to ESPN Stats & Information, Oakland has the second longest current streak in the NFL without winning back-to-back games. It has been 21 games since Oakland won two games in a row. Detroit owns the longest streak at 45. It too can break its streak this weekend. Really, the 2-3 Raiders have a chance to get well. The upcoming schedule is manageable. Oakland plays at 0-5 San Francisco on Sunday, then plays at 2-3 Denver and hosts 2-2 Seattle. If the Raiders are going to get right, it will be in the next three games.

Broncos know Mark Sanchez: In the days before the 2009 draft, Josh McDaniels and the Broncos considered taking a run at USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Denver officials even flew to Southern California to stage a private workout with Sanchez. Yet, Denver never had a chance to take Sanchez because the Jets moved up to get him at No. 5. Denver will have to deal with Sanchez and the Jets' offense Sunday when they play host to New York.

Shaky times in San Francisco: One the biggest national memories of the devastating 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake in the Bay Area 1989 was the scene at Candlestick Park. Game 3 of the Bay Bridge World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics was about to start. It was a chilling scene as the old stadium rocked. Now, 21 years to the day, the San Francisco 49ers will play host to the Oakland Raiders in the same stadium. Eerie, huh? All that will be missing is Al Michaels in the broadcast booth.