AFC West: 2011 Week 7 Rapid Reaction
October, 23, 2011
By Bill Williamson | ESPN.com
OAKLAND, Calif. – A look at a game in which the Kansas City Chiefs got back into the AFC West race:
What it means: The Chiefs are relevant in the AFC West again. Their thumping of the beat-up Raiders improved their record to 3-3. The Chiefs have overcome massive injuries and a 0-3 start. Coach Todd Haley --- who hasn’t shaved since the team has started winning -- deserves immense credit for bringing this team back to .500. The Raiders fell to 4-3. In addition to the Kyle Boller-Carson Palmer quarterback issues, the Raiders played most of the game without running back Darren McFadden, who has a foot issue, and the entire game without kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
Tomorrow’s talker: The Raiders’ weird decision at quarterback will be chatted about often. Oakland didn’t feel like Palmer was ready to start because he practiced just three days after being traded from Cincinnati. Yet the Raiders felt it was necessary to put in Palmer when Boller landed them in a 21-0 hole. Both quarterbacks were dreadful. Each player threw three interceptions and each had one retuned for a score.
Streak over: The Raiders’ streak of eight consecutive AFC West victories is over. It was the longest current streak in the NFL. The Raiders swept the division last year. That won’t happen this year.
Chiefs' weapons: The Chiefs are starting to show real versatility on offense, even without star running back Jamaal Charles and tight end Tony Moeaki, both out for the season with knee injuries. Quarterback Matt Cassel has been terrific during the Chiefs’winning streak and he has a nice chemistry with receivers Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston. Running back Jackie Battle is doing enough and the Chiefs even threw in cornerback Javier Arenas for a score out of the Wildcat. First-round pick Jonathan Baldwin made his debut Sunday and he looks to get more action as the season progresses. This team is getting dangerous, folks.
Flowers blooms: Last year, in Oakland, Kansas City standout cornerback Brandon Flowers struggled badly. Sunday, though, Flowers was outstanding. He intercepted a Palmer pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter and he made several big plays in the game.
What’s next: Kansas City hosts first place San Diego (4-2) on Monday Night Football on Oct. 31. The Raiders have their bye in Week 8, then come back to host Denver in Week 9. If the Chiefs beat the Chargers, there will be a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West after Week 8.