Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Teams clash in air-tight AFC West
The AFC West teams will play each other this weekend as one game separates the four teams in the standings. The Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs enter play tied atop the division, but all three teams are coming off of losses.
The Raiders will be in San Diego for the first Thursday game since the season opener between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers.
The game features two quarterbacks who have been turnover prone this season in Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer.
Rivers threw a career-high three interceptions – including two pick-sixes – in last week’s loss to the Packers. Last season Rivers threw just 13 interceptions; this season he leads the league with 14 and has six multi-interception games.
Extra pressure has bothered Rivers -- he leads the league with seven interceptions when facing five-or-more pass rushers.
Meanwhile, Carson Palmer has been getting picked off at an even higher rate. He’s thrown six interceptions on 56 attempts over the course of a game-and-a-half. For comparison’s sake, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has half as many interceptions as Palmer on 265 attempts.
The Raiders have lost consecutive games, both to AFC West opponents, after going unbeaten in division play last year. The Chargers are looking to avoid losing four straight for the first time since 2002-03 when they lost nine straight.
The defending division champion Chiefs have had an enigmatic season, dropping their first three games before winning four straight, only to lose to the previously winless Miami Dolphins last week.
On Sunday they host the Denver Broncos, who are coming off a 38-24 win against the Raiders. Much of the Broncos’ success came via the run-game, with Tim Tebow and Willis McGahee each topping 100 yards on the ground.
Since Tebow became the starter in Denver, the Broncos have averaged a league-leading 223.7 rushing yards per game.
It should prove a tough matchup for a Chiefs defense that ranks 19th in the league against the run, giving up 120.3 yards per game.