AFC West: 2012 Week 8 coverage

DENVER -- A look at a solid 34-14 victory for the Denver Broncos:

What it means: This was Denver’s most complete, impressive game of the season. The Broncos put together a complete effort instead of just in the second half. Their reward is a 4-3 record and sole possession of first place in the AFC West.

Great defense: Denver’s defense was tremendous against Drew Brees and the Saints' offense. The Saints could not sustain many drives. This could have been a coming-out party for an improved Denver defense.

Mr. 300: This was Peyton Manning's fifth straight 300-yard passing game. It set a team record and it matches his personal best when he started the 2009 season with five straight 300-yard games. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 305 yards. Manning threw three touchdown passes and was not intercepted.

McGahee's milestone: Running back Willis McGahee rushed for 122 yards, his 33rd 100-yard game. It leads all active players.

Youngsters contribute: Rookie running back Ronnie Hillman and second-year tight end Virgil Green both had nice nights. Hillman, a third-round pick, had 86 yards on 14 rushes. Green had three catches for 44 yards. Expect both players to see their playing time increase as the season progresses. This could be an added boost for Denver.

What’s next: Denver plays at the Cincinnati Bengals next week as it tries to keep its hold on first place in the division.

Wrap-up: Raiders 26, Chiefs 16

October, 28, 2012
A look at two teams going in different directions:

What it means: The Raiders are officially in the hunt in the AFC West and the Chiefs are officially in the hunt for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Oakland has won two straight games and is 3-4. Kansas City is 1-6. Give Oakland credit. It has shown it is better than the league’s worst team as it has beaten Jacksonville and Kansas City in the past two weeks. Those are the type of games you must win. Look at San Diego on Sunday. It blew a winnable game at Cleveland and it is now tied with the Raiders. Oakland has won six straight times at Arrowhead Stadium. The game was its first road win of the season. The Chiefs dropped to 0-4 at home, which has to further steam an upset fan base.

Bad streaks continue for Chiefs: The Chiefs have not led at any point during a game this season. Their one win came in overtime. The Chiefs haven’t scored a touchdown on their opening drive dating back to the start of last season.

Quinn out, Cassel in: The strange quarterback situation continues in Kansas City. Last week, Brady Quinn was named the starter. He took over for Matt Cassel after he had a concussion and Quinn kept the job. Yep, you guessed it. Quinn suffered a possible concussion Sunday and Cassel came in. Cassel did OK as he completed 20 of 30 passes for 218 yards. So, yes, the flux continues at quarterback in Kansas City.

Routt routed: Kansas City cornerback Stanford Routt -- who was Oakland’s No. 1 cornerback last season and who was cut by the Raiders’ new regime in February -- was picked on all game and the Raiders made some big plays against him. He did have an interception early.

McFadden pumps up numbers: Oakland running back Darren McFadden had a big fourth quarter to give him a respectable running line. He ended up with 114 yards on 29 carries. Oakland has to find a way to continue McFadden’s fourth-quarter ground success.

Raiders get to quarterback: The Raiders had an improved pass-rush. They had three sacks against a decent team. Oakland had seven sacks in its first six games.

Turnover disaster continues: The Chiefs have committed 25 turnovers, which leads the NFL.

What’s next: The Raiders have another winnable game against Tampa Bay. The Chiefs have to get ready on a short week and play at San Diego on Thursday night in a game which should capture the imagination of the country. Or not.

Wrap-up: Browns 7, Chargers 6

October, 28, 2012

A look at a bad day in bad weather for the nose-diving Chargers:

What it means: This was the Chargers' third straight loss. While blowing double-digit leads in the past two games to New Orleans and Denver hurt the Chargers enormously, this defeat offers its own pain. This was a winnable game against a poor team. Yet the Chargers -- who perhaps still haven’t gotten over seeing Denver score 35 unanswered points in the second half in Week 6 -- were completely flat Sunday. Yes, they can dig out of it, but this team is so down right now, a revival may be difficult.

Game-winning drive stalled: On their final drive of the game, the Chargers moved the ball well into Cleveland territory with their sights on winning the game on Nick Novak’s third field goal. However, the Chargers’ hopes ended following four straight incomplete passes by Philip Rivers.

Mathews fails again: In the end, San Diego running back Ryan Mathews had a nice day as he had 95 yards rushing on 24 carries. However, Mathews’ fumbling problem caught up to him again early in the game. Mathews has to find a way to stop fumbling. It is hurting his team. Mathews wasn’t the only Charger to fail, though. Robert Meachem dropped a potential touchdown and Atari Bigby dropped a potential interception return for a score. This was a team failure.

What’s next: The Chargers will try to bounce back at home Thursday against Kansas City. I envision many empty seats at Qualcomm Stadium.