Friday, November 16, 2012
Final Word: AFC West
By Bill Williamson
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 11:
Manning-Thomas combination is taking off: Nine games into Peyton Manning's time with the Denver Broncos, it appears third-year receiver Demaryius Thomas is becoming his favorite target. According to ESPN Stats & Information, since Week 5 at New England, Thomas has been Manning’s go-to receiver, catching 33 of the 40 passes Manning has thrown his way. Thomas has been targeted at an average depth of 13 yards, and he has eight catches of 30 yards or more. In the first four weeks, Thomas caught 21 of 35 targets, with an average target depth of 7.6 yards and two pass plays of 30-plus yards.
Peyton Manning has found Demaryius Thomas, left, more often, and for big gains, in recent weeks.
Yardagepalooza possible in Oakland: All kinds of offensive records could fall in Oakland on Sunday when the New Orleans Saints visit. Rain is in the forecast -- and perhaps only a slick surface could help these defenses. New Orleans has allowed 4,224 yards in nine games; Oakland has allowed 97 points in its past two. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees leads the NFL in passing yardage; Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer leads the AFC in passing yardage. The putrid defensive possibilities are endless.
Can the Chiefs protect Arrowhead Stadium? One of the more embarrassing facts in a season rich in embarrassing facts for the Chiefs is their performance at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs used to be extremely difficult to beat at home. That’s not the case in this 1-8 season. The Chiefs are 0-4 at home and have been outscored by 46 points there. The faithful are hoping that all changes Sunday against Cincinnati.
Chargers need to buck Broncos’ trend: The Chargers owned the Broncos in recent years, but the Broncos have beaten the Chargers twice in a row. A win Sunday would give Denver its first season sweep in the series since 2005, the year before Philip Rivers took over as San Diego's starting quarterback. Before this short Denver win streak, the Chargers won nine of 11 games in the series. The most recent meeting between the two teams was one of the most memorable in the rivalry’s history. Denver turned a 24-0 halftime deficit into a 35-24 road victory on “Monday Night Football” in Week 6. The Broncos haven’t lost since, while the Chargers have won just once.
More milestones for Manning: Every week, it seems like Manning sets a new record. Week 11 doesn’t appear different. Manning needs one win to tie John Elway -- the man who brought him to Denver -- for the second-most career victories by a starting quarterback at 148. Manning needs a touchdown toss to overtake Dan Marino for the second-most career touchdown passes. They are tied at 420.