AFC West: 2012 Week 11 coverage

Wrap-up: Saints 38, Raiders 17

November, 18, 2012
What it means: The Oakland Raiders (3-7) have lost three straight games and are in third place in the AFC West.

Owner upset: The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Raiders owner Mark Davis made some rare comments after the 38-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He said he was “not happy” and he said the salary cap cannot be blamed for this season. He said he will be patient, but he wants to see progress. That can be perceived as a shot at first-year general manager Reggie McKenzie and first-year coach Dennis Allen. I’d find it hard to believe McKenzie and Allen’s jobs would be in jeopardy. Davis has to show patience. And the truth is, the salary-cap issue (which McKenzie and Allen inherited) was a mess. Time is needed. But these comments show, for the first time, that Davis may be impatient like his late father Al.

Defense continues to falter: Oakland has allowed 135 points in the past three games. It has to be killing Allen, who is a defensive specialist.

Reece runs well: With starter Darren McFadden and reserve Mike Goodson out for the second straight week with high ankle sprains, fullback Marcel Reece provided a bright spot. He had 103 yards on 19 carries and 90 yards on four catches. Reece is one of the more underrated players in the league.

Streak snapped: Going into Sunday’s game, Oakland scored in the final two minutes of the first half in every game this season. It didn’t happen Sunday.

Brees rolls: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees had a nice tidy game Sunday. He threw for 219 yards, three touchdowns and wasn’t intercepted or sacked. He has won seven straight games against Oakland.

What’s next: Oakland goes to the Cincinnati Bengals in what should be an interesting day. Palmer goes back to Cincinnati for the first time since he was traded from there last year. The Raiders face former head coach Hue Jackson (who made the Palmer deal). Jackson is now a Cincinnati assistant.

DENVER -- A few thoughts from the Denver Broncos 30-23 win over the San Diego Chargers.

What it means: The AFC West race is very close to being over. The Broncos (7-3) have won five straight games while the second-place Chargers (4-6) have lost five of the past six. Denver essentially has a four-game lead with six games to go because of a season sweep and the tiebreaker over the Chargers. Wacky things would have to happen for Denver not to win its second straight AFC West title.

Manning milestones: Denver quarterback Peyton Manning reached two career milestones Sunday. With his 148th career win he tied his boss, John Elway, for the second most wins by a quarterback in NFL history. Manning also threw three touchdown passes Sunday and now has 423 for his career. He entered the day tied with Dan Marino in second place for the most career touchdown passes in NFL history.

Miller magic: Denver second-year linebacker Von Miller had three sacks and forced two fumbles. He is a serious NFL Defensive Player of the Year threat. He was the Defensive Rookie of the Year last year. Miller has 13 sacks this season and 24.5 sacks in his career.

San Diego’s offense struggled: The Chargers had two first downs in the first half and went 3-for-16 on third down for the game. They failed on their first 11 attempts on third down. Spanning three games, Denver’s defense forced opponents to go 0-for-26 on third downs.

Rivers’ turnovers continue: San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. He has committed 43 turnovers since the start of the 2011 season. It leads the NFL.

Key injuries: Several players were banged up on both sides. Denver running back Willis McGahee (knee), San Diego cornerback Quentin Jammer (calf) and San Diego linebacker Larry English (knee) all came out of the game. There is no initial word on how serious the injuries are.

San Diego’s defense is not the problem: The Chargers’ first nine points were scored by their defense, and the unit has played well for much of the season.

What’s next: Denver visits the Kansas City Chiefs (1-9) and the Chargers host the Baltimore Ravens.

Wrap-up: Bengals 28, Chiefs 6

November, 18, 2012
My thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 28-6 win at the Kansas City Chiefs:

What it means: The Chiefs could not keep up their momentum after a competitive overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday night. The Bengals had their way with the home team. The Chiefs are now 1-9, tying their worst start in team history.

Quinn takes over: Brady Quinn came in the game in the second half and I’m sure he will start for the rest of the season if he is healthy. Matt Cassel may never play in a Kansas City uniform again. Quinn was named the permanent starter prior to Week 8, but he missed the past two games because of a concussion and he didn’t start against the Bengals as a precaution. Cassel was ineffective as he completed 8-of-16 passes for 93 yards. Quinn completed 9 of 14 passes for 95 yards.

Getting ugly: This may be another nail in the coffin for general manager Scott Pioli and first-year coach Romeo Crennel. Getting blown out at home by an average team will not help quiet this restless fan base. The Chiefs are 0-5 at home and have been outscored by 68 points at Arrowhead Stadium this season. Many fans wore black Sunday to express their displeasure. The outcome of the game didn’t help the atmosphere. Ownership may have no choice but to clean house.

Crennel keeps promise: He said he’d bench players who made bad mistakes. Running back Peyton Hillis lost a fumble and he didn't carry the ball again Sunday. The Chiefs lead the NFL with 31 turnovers.

Lead wasted: After not leading for the first eight games of the season, the Chiefs have enjoyed a lead in the past two games. Sunday’s lead was brief. Kansas City led 3-0 in the first quarter before the Bengals jumped out to a 21-3 lead in the second quarter.

Injuries pile up: The Chiefs have been battered all season and it is not getting better. Top receiver Dwayne Bowe went out with a neck injury and left tackle Branden Albert left the game with a back inquiry. He joined fellow starting linemen Ryan Lilja and Jon Asamoah out with an injury.

What is next: Kansas City hosts Denver on Sunday in the team’s first meeting of the season.