AFC West: 2013 Week 9 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Oakland Raiders

November, 3, 2013

OAKLAND -- A few thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 49-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles:

What it means: What was it that Raiders coach Dennis Allen said on Friday? "It’s time for us. If we’re going to do something, we need to start making some sort of move." Pretty sure he did not mean a move backward. That’s exactly what happened, though, as the Raiders were embarrassed in every facet of the game, but especially on defense as they gave up an NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes to Nick Foles. A year after winning just four games total, the Raiders were trying to make that next step by improving to 4-4 at the season’s halfway point. Not quite. It was reminiscent of last season, when a 3-4 Raiders team was beaten up by Tampa Bay to start a six-game losing streak.

Stock watch: Falling -- Defense. Remember how high everyone was on the Raiders’ D coming into this week? Yeah, well, everyone except for the Eagles’ offensive-minded head coach, Chip Kelly. Oakland’s defense was torched by the Eagles for 529 yards and Foles’ seven touchdown passes through three quarters. Foles equaled Peyton Manning, Joe Kapp, Sid Luckman, Adrian Burk, George Blanda and Y.A. Tittle. Defensive coordinator Jason "The Mad Scientist" Tarver, co-DC at Stanford who faced Kelly when Kelly was at Oregon, had no answers this time.

Hayden torched: Raiders first-round draft pick D.J. Hayden endured another baptism by fire, giving up long receptions to Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson, as well as a couple of touchdowns. The Eagles picked on Hayden early and often.

Injuries ... again: Running back Darren McFadden was lost again with a right hamstring strain in the first half, while right tackle Matt McCants went out with a foot injury in the third quarter, paving the way for rookie Menelik Watson’s debut. Left guard Lucas Nix left in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury. Is it time for the Raiders to move on from McFadden? Rashad Jennings rushed for a game-high 102 yards, on 15 carries.

What's next: The Raiders (3-5) make the first of two trips to New Jersey in a month, this time to face the New York Giants (2-6), who have won two straight and will be coming off their bye week. Oakland has lost its past 11 games in the Eastern time zone, dating to Dec. 6, 2009, getting outscored by a combined 353-178. The Raiders are 5-28 in games played three time zones away since Dec. 15, 2002.

Rapid Reaction: San Diego Chargers

November, 3, 2013

LANDOVER, Md. -- A few thoughts on the San Diego Chargers' 30-24 loss in overtime to the Washington Redskins.

What it means: The Chargers drop back to the .500 mark at 4-4, and are 2-1 against the NFC East.

Stock watch: San Diego’s top signing in free agency, cornerback Derek Cox, appeared to get benched in favor of Johnny Patrick in the third quarter after giving up a long completion to Pierre Garcon. Cox signed a four-year, $20 million deal in the offseason, including $10.25 million in guaranteed money. Cox has struggled to play up to the level of the contract. The Chargers had no answer for Garcon, who finished with seven catches for 172 yards.

Rivers struggles: San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers scuffled coming off the bye week. He finished 29-of-46 for 341 yards, one touchdown on a screen pass to Eddie Royal, and two costly interceptions. But both turnovers weren’t all on Rivers. Vincent Brown appeared to break outside on a route that Rivers anticipated he would go inside, leading to an interception by Washington’s E.J. Biggers. In the second half, Keenan Allen was outmuscled for a 50-50 ball by a childhood friend -- cornerback David Amerson -- on an inside route in the fourth quarter.

Special teams show up: San Diego punter Mike Scifres twice had punts downed at the Washington 1-yard line. Lawrence Guy blocked a 25-yard field goal attempt by Kai Forbath, the first field goal blocked by the Chargers in 11 years. Guy also deflected a Robert Griffin III pass that was intercepted in the end zone by defensive tackle Sean Lissemore for San Diego’s first defensive touchdown of the season.

Washington runs it well: San Diego struggled containing Washington’s running game, led by tailback Alfred Morris. The Redskins finished with 209 rushing yards. Morris led the way, with 121 yards on 25 carries, including a 5-yard touchdown for a score.

What’s next: The Chargers head home to host AFC West rival Denver next Sunday.

Rapid Reaction: New Orleans Saints

November, 3, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 26-20 loss to the New York Jets, which moved them to 6-2 on the season.

What it means: This was a frustrating loss for the Saints because they shot themselves in the foot so often on offense, defense and special teams. After preaching last week that their 35-17 victory against the Buffalo Bills was too sloppy, the Saints committed many of the same mistakes this week. Way too many big gains allowed by their run defense against New York’s Chris Ivory; penalties, dropped passes and interceptions on offense; a missed field goal and big kick return allowed on special teams.

In the grand scheme of things, the Saints can afford one loss -- especially to an AFC team. But they need to prove this was just an “off day” in chilly, windy weather, rather than the continuation of an ugly trend.

Ryan still winless: No one could have been more disappointed than Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who is now 0-5 in NFL matchups against his brother Rex, the Jets’ head coach. Rob knew this was his best chance yet to beat his brother -- especially with Jets quarterback Geno Smith so inconsistent this season. But the Saints’ defense couldn’t stop the run consistently enough to put Smith in uncomfortable situations.

Stock watch: The Saints’ run defense, which had been up and down all season, definitely did not rise to the challenge against a physical, run-first team. New Orleans allowed a total of 198 yards on 36 carries -- 139 of them by Ivory, the power runner who was traded from the Saints to the Jets this offseason. The Saints left way too many gaping holes and missed too many tackles. Ivory had gains of 52, 30 and 27 yards.

Stock watch II: Saints second-year receiver Nick Toon struggled on a day when he had a chance to play a key role with veteran Marques Colston out with a knee injury. Toon dropped two passes -- one of which was tipped up and intercepted. The other could have been a big gain down the left sideline.

Up next: The Saints will be back in their element next week -- a Sunday night home game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Saints have been dominant in prime-time home games, winning 11 straight and 14 of their past 15, dating back to 2008.

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

November, 3, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs' 23-13 victory against the Buffalo Bills:

What it means: The Chiefs moved to 9-0 and, more importantly, guaranteed they will head to Denver for their Nov. 17 showdown with the Denver Broncos with no worse than a one-game lead in the AFC West. The 7-1 Broncos had a bye Sunday and will play the Chargers in San Diego next Sunday.

Stock watch: The once-productive pass rush continues to be ineffective. The Chiefs, who lead the NFL with 36 sacks, failed to get to Buffalo rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel. The Chiefs tackled as poorly as they have all season in allowing more than 200 rushing yards to C.J. Spiller and the Bills. Dexter McCluster dropped a deep pass when he was uncovered and could have scored a touchdown. Rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper was beaten deep for a touchdown in the first half by Marquise Goodwin, but made up for it in the fourth quarter when he punched the ball lose from T.J. Graham. Tamba Hali recovered the fumble and returned it for the touchdown that put the Chiefs ahead 20-13.

Offensive futility: The Chiefs had fewer than 200 yards until late in the game, and managed just three field goals offensively. Alex Smith completed 19 of 29 passes, but for just 124 yards. Both of Kansas City’s touchdowns were scored by the defense. Hali’s score came early in the fourth quarter. A bigger play came early in the third quarter. With the Bills ahead 10-3 and on the Kansas City 2, Tuel threw an ill-advised pass into coverage that was intercepted by Sean Smith, who returned it 100 yards for the tying touchdown. Tuel had wide receiver Stevie Johnson open in the end zone on the play, but apparently didn’t see him.

What’s next: The Chiefs are on their bye, and they’ll need to benefit from the break. When they return to game action, they’ll head into the meaty part of their schedule. Two of their next three games will be for AFC West supremacy against the Denver Broncos. Sandwiched in between is a game with another division rival, the San Diego Chargers.