AFC West: 2011 Week 11 coverage

Wrap-up: Patriots 34, Chiefs 3

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
11:54
PM ET

A look at a game in which the visiting Kansas City Chiefs were eventually worn down by the New England Patriots:

What it means: The Chiefs are now 4-6 after their 34-3 loss. They trail the Oakland Raiders by two games in the AFC West. Kansas City is tied with the San Diego Chargers for last place in the division. The Denver Broncos are 5-5.

Team of streaks: The Chiefs are on their second three-game losing streak of the season. They sandwiched it with a four-game winning streak.

Getting tricky: The Chiefs used a lot of fast snaps, they used the Wildcat and they tried an onside kick. In the end, it didn’t matter. But an undermanned team on the road needs to try anything, and Chiefs coach Todd Haley was up for anything.

Second-half blues: The Chiefs actually led this game in the first quarter, 3-0. The Patriots scored all but seven of their points in the final 31 minutes of the game. The Chiefs hung in this game for a while, but the Patriots eventually overtook them in every phase of the game.

Tough start to a tough stretch: It doesn’t get any easier for Kansas City. It entered the week with the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL. It plays Pittsburgh, Chicago, the Jets, Green Bay, Oakland and Denver in the final six games.

Palko wasn’t horrible: Tyler Palko had his issues and he threw three interceptions. But in his first start, Palko had his moments, especially early in the game. He didn’t look like a player who was lost. After entering the game with just 13 total NFL passes under his belt, he completed 25 of 38 passes for 236 yards. The left-hander looks like a coachable player who can improve. He’ll get his chance. The Chiefs put starter Matt Cassel on injured reserve with a broken thumb on Monday. He was injured in a loss to Denver last week. I’m interested to see how Palko responds after getting more practice time. He had a nice chemistry with receivers Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston. They had a combined 13 catches for 160 yards.

Jones plays well: Veteran running back Thomas Jones had 48 yards rushing on eight carries. The Chiefs ran for 119 yards on 26 carries.

Getting pressure: The Chiefs sacked Tom Brady three times, all in the first half. Like every other aspect of the Chiefs on Monday night, the pass rush dwindled in the second half.

Got Gronked: New England tight end Rob Gronkowski lit up the Chiefs. He had touchdown catches of 52 and 19 yards. Kansas City simply didn’t have an answer for him.

Not so special: New England broke the game open with just less than 10 minutes remaining on a 72-yard punt return for a score by Julian Edelman.

What’s next: The Chiefs are on prime time again in Week 12. They host Pittsburgh Sunday evening.

Wrap-up: Bears 31, Chargers 20

November, 20, 2011
11/20/11
8:11
PM ET
A look at another San Diego stumble:

What it means: The Chargers have now lost five straight games and they are falling out of the AFC West race. San Diego is 4-6 and it is two games behind division-leading Oakland, which is 6-4 and has already beaten San Diego.

Rivers’ struggles continue: San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers had a solid day as he threw for 280 yards on 21 of 31 passing. He threw two touchdowns. However, he threw two more interceptions in the fourth quarter. Rivers has made critical miscues in the fourth quarter in all six of the Chargers’ defeats this season. Rivers has thrown 17 interceptions in 10 games. It is his highest interception total of his career.

Vincent Jackson has a big game: The San Diego receiver had 165 yards receiving on seven catches. He also had a touchdown. Jackson has to be a major part of the offense for the rest of the season.

Mathews has ball security issues: Second-year running back Ryan Mathews had a tough day. He fumbled twice and lost one. Mathews had just 37 yards on 13 carries.

The offensive line holds up: Credit the makeshift San Diego offensive line. Playing without three injured starters, the line did not give up any sacks Sunday. The Chargers will have to keep it up on the fly. The San Diego Union Tribune reports that left tackle Marcus McNeill may miss the rest of the season with a neck stinger.

Cutler wins dual: Rivers lost his first game playing former AFC West rival, Jay Cutler, since 2008. Cutler threw for 286 yards in the win.

Defense sagging: The San Diego defense has been giving up way too many big plays during this five-game losing streak. It looks tired and overmatched.

What’s next: The Chargers host Tim Tebow and the hot Denver Broncos in Week 12.

Wrap-up: Raiders 27, Vikings 21

November, 20, 2011
11/20/11
5:53
PM ET

A look at a fortunate day for the Oakland Raiders in the Twin Cities as they beat the Minnesota Vikings 27-21.

What it means: The Raiders are now 6-4, and they will remain in first place in the AFC West regardless of the rest of the action in the division in Week 11. Denver is 5-5, and San Diego and Kansas City are 4-5.

Survival: The Raiders looked great in the first two quarters against the undermanned Vikings, who fell to 2-8. Oakland scored 24 unanswered points and led 24-7 at the half. Yet the Vikings came back thanks to several Oakland penalties. Had the Vikings not been mistake-prone (they committed five turnovers, including two interceptions that were deep in Oakland’s territory), they could have won this game. The Raiders need to find a way to play a complete game moving forward, but they'll take a win.

Spreading the ball around: In his third Oakland start, quarterback Carson Palmer had his moments, especially in the first half. He ended up 17-of-23 passing for 164 yards. It was a great sign that Palmer spread the ball around. He completed passes to seven different receivers and hit tight end Kevin Boss five times. Getting Boss more involved is paramount. Palmer’s comfort level in this offense is growing, even though his numbers weren’t spectacular Sunday.

Scary scene: Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey had a good game with four catches before he injured his neck or head in the fourth quarter. He had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.

UPDATE: Oakland coach Hue Jackson said Heyward-Bey has regained all of his feeling in his arms and his legs, and he was hopeful Heyward-Bey could fly home with the team.

Controlling Allen: Minnesota sack master Jared Allen came into the game with a sack in 11 straight games. The streak ended Sunday. Oakland did allow four sacks, but it was able to contain Allen.

Big game for Bush again: Oakland backup running back Michael Bush had 109 yards on 30 carries. He has a total of 266 rushing yards in the past two games, as Darren McFadden has been out since Week 7 with a foot injury.

Satele hurt again: Center Samson Satele had a concussion in the first half. Rookie guard Stefen Wisniewski moved to center, and Stephon Heyer came in to play left guard. Wisniewski excelled at center in Week 10 at San Diego when Satele was injured.

Bringing the heat: The Raiders continued to get to the quarterback. They had five sacks Sunday and have 11 sacks in their past two games.

Penalties still an issue: The Raiders -- the most penalized team in the NFL -- were flagged 12 times for 117 yards. This is a major issue for Oakland that has to somehow be cleared up.

Fourth-quarter problems continue: The Raiders were shut out in the fourth quarter for the fifth straight game. It almost caught up to them Sunday.

What’s next: The Raiders host Chicago in Week 12.

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