Friday, September 9, 2011
Final Word: AFC West
By Bill Williamson
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 1:
Can Raiders keep streak alive? The Raiders were the kings of intra-division games last season when they went 6-0 in the AFC West. The problem was, Oakland went 2-8 outside of the division and finished in third place in the AFC West. Still, the Raiders open Monday night’s game at Denver -- the back end of an ESPN "Monday Night Foobtall" doubleheader -- with a seven-game divisional winning streak, dating to a 2009 win at Denver. It is the longest current division winning streak in the NFL.
Coach Hue Jackson and the Raiders will be looking to extend an NFL-best division winning streak.
McNabb likes to bombs away against Chargers: In 2009, when new Minnesota quarterback Donovon McNabb last faced San Diego as a member of the Eagles, he threw 55 passes. In his previous meeting against San Diego, in 2005, McNabb unleashed 54 passes. It was his highest pass total of both seasons. It's doubtful McNabb, 34, will throw that many passes in his first game as a Viking. But the Chargers will be prepared for him to throw at will.
59-14 not on John Fox: A lot has been made this week of Oakland’s 59-14 win at Denver last year. Forty-five point road wins aren’t every-season occurrences. New Denver coach John Fox has dealt with a lot of questions about it, but, ironically, that day was a good day for Fox in a mostly miserable 2010. On Oct. 24, Fox’s Carolina Panthers beat San Francisco for their first win of the season after five straight losses. The Panthers won one more game.
Keep an eye on Merriman: There is excitement in Buffalo about former San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman. He's healthy and has looked good this summer. The Bills are hoping Merriman, 27, will resemble the player who had a total of 39.5 sacks in his first three NFL seasons and not the player who had four sacks in his past three season combined. Regardless of his past three years, which were marred by major injuries, the Chiefs will be aware of Merriman. They’ve seen him at his best. Merriman has six sacks in nine career games against the Chiefs. He had three sacks in a game against the Chiefs in 2007 and two sacks in a game against the Chiefs during his rookie season.
Bad Raiders’ streaks: A Raiders win wouldn’t just extend their division winning streak, it would end some nasty streaks as well. The Raiders haven’t won in Week 1 since 2002 against Seattle. It's the longest current Week 1 losing skid in the NFL. The Raiders also have lost 11 straight prime-time games.