Friday, November 18, 2011
Final Word: AFC West
By Bill Williamson
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 11:
Kevin Boss has not made much of an impact in the Raiders' offense this season.
The Oakland Raiders need to use the tight end more: With new Oakland starting quarterback Carson Palmer getting more comfortable, it will be interesting to see if the Raiders start utilizing their tight ends. Kevin Boss has been targeted just 11 times this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. However, Boss has caught 10 passes for 192 yards. He caught a huge pass from Palmer in a Week 10 win at San Diego in the fourth quarter. Boss has been slowed by injuries at some points of the season and he barely played in the Week 9 loss to Denver. Former starter Jason Campbell liked using the tight ends before he was hurt.
The Kansas City Chiefs will have to adjust to the left: In addition to getting used to a new quarterback Monday night at New England, the Chiefs must get used to a different spin of the ball. With starter Matt Cassel likely out for the rest of the season with a hand injury that will require surgery, the Chiefs are turning to Tyler Palko. He is left-handed, which is fairly rare in the NFL. In the offseason, Kansas City coach Todd Haley told me he was excited to pair Palko with new quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, who was a successful lefty quarterback. I did a story on left-handed quarterbacks in 2010 shortly after Denver drafted lefty Tim Tebow. Many people who have experience being in a left-hander-led offense said there is an adjustment period, but it is not impossible to get used to.
Will Philip Rivers' problems finally end? It seems every week, there is new statistical evidence about Rivers' less-than-stellar 2011 season. According to ESPN Stats and Information, he has completed 44.7 of his passes in the red zone. That is the sixth worst percentage in the NFL. Rivers has 24 underthrown incompletions this season, and six of them have been intercepted. He had a total of 40 of those passes last year with just two interceptions.
Raiders can’t let Peterson run all day: The 5-4 Raiders should be able to stay in first place after Week 11 as they are favored over the Vikings. However, the Vikings can stay in the game if star running back Adrian Peterson can establish an attack. He is having another strong season and has 846 yards while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He also has 10 rushing touchdowns. Oakland has been vulnerable against the run this season and have allowed way too many big run plays. The Raiders are ranked 25th in the league against the run.
Bad memories for Brady: This is the first time New England quarterback Tom Brady will face the Chiefs since he was lost for the season on opening day of 2008. Brady was shelved for the season on a hit by former Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard. The hit would end up affecting the Chiefs as well. Cassel, Brady’s backup, went on to have a good season as Brady’s replacement. After the season, the Chiefs hired New England executive Scott Pioli, who made trading for Cassel his first major priority in Kansas City.