- Bill Williamson, ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter
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1. Kyle Orton on third down: The Denver Broncos quarterback is having a strong season. But he struggled mightily on third down in a lopsided loss at San Diego on Monday night. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Orton became the fourth quarterback this season to be sacked and have a passer rating below 5.0 on third down against San Diego. Orton was 3 of 9 passing for 25 yards on third down against the Chargers. He was sacked three times and he threw an interception. That, clearly, is not winning quarterback play.
2. Oakland’s running game: The Raiders entered Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh ranked No. 2 in the NFL on the ground. Pittsburgh was ranked No. 1 against the run. The Steelers, who won the game 35-3, easily won the matchup. Oakland had 61 yards on 16 carries and never got anything going. Oakland running back Darren McFadden, who has been terrific this season, had 14 yards on 10 carries.
3. Oakland’s offensive line: One of the reasons Oakland couldn’t run was a poor effort by the offensive line. In addition to not blocking well in the run game, Oakland gave up six sacks. This unit has really come on in the past month, but it was not a match for the savage Pittsburgh defense on Sunday.
1. Philip Rivers’ MVP candidacy: The knock against Rivers’ run for the NFL MVP award was that the Chargers had a losing record. However, San Diego is now 5-5 and is very much in the playoff picture. Rivers is having an outstanding season and he is playing with a depleted offense. After his four-touchdown show on Monday night, Rivers’ campaign for MVP may be picking up steam.
2. Kansas City’s run offense: The No.1-ranked run offense in the NFL rebounded well after slipping some in the past two games. Kansas City had 159 yards on the ground in an easy win over Arizona. Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones wore down Arizona as the Chiefs broke a two-game losing streak doing what they do best.
3. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City receiver: Bowe is on a hot streak. He has 45 catches and 11 touchdowns this season, which is one shy of the Chiefs’ team record. With six games to go, I like his chances to establish a new mark. Bowe set a team record Sunday by catching a touchdown in the six straight games. He had two touchdown receptions Sunday.
FALLING1. Kyle Orton on third down: The Denver Broncos quarterback is having a strong season. But he struggled mightily on third down in a lopsided loss at San Diego on Monday night.