After an up and down week one in the AFC West, this week two teams will be trying to find the win column, while the other two will try to push their winning streaks to two games. This article discusses the five things to know and look out for in week 2.
Denver Broncos @ Atlanta Falcons Will Cap Off a Great Week 2
Both the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons played nearly perfect games in week one with both scoring impressive wins. This matchup is perfect for prime time and is going to be a great game between two superstar quarterbacks, leading two great offensives, with great defenses and special teams to boot.
In week one Peyton Manning finished the game against Pittsburgh with 19 competitions; 253 yard passing yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and was only sacked twice. Matt Ryan finished the game with Kansas City with 31 completions, 299 passing yards, 9.6 yards per pass, and three touchdowns, while only being sacked once.
For Atlanta top receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones combined for 12 receptions, 195 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. For Denver top receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker combined for 10 receptions and 164 yards.
Denver’s defense did well holding Pittsburgh to 75 rushing yards, getting five sacks, and forcing an interception that was returned for a touchdown that sealed the game for Denver.
Atlanta’s defense also did well holding Kansas City to 24 points, sacking Matt Cassel three times, pulling in two interceptions and recovering a fumble.
How Will Injury Impact This Week’s Games?
All four AFC West teams are dealing with injury but San Diego and Oakland are definitely the two teams that will be hit hardest in week two.
For San Diego the team will most likely be without starting running back Ryan Matthews at least for another week. This is unfortunate because San Diego could use some help with their running game after the team combined for a measly 32 yards on 20 attempts which was an average of 1.6 yards a carry.
For Oakland the good news is that star receiver Denarius Moore has been looking good at practice and will likely play against Miami on Sunday. However, receiver Jacoby Ford is going to be out indefinitely, and long snapper Jon Condo who had a concussion in the game against San Diego has not been practicing and most likely will not play on Sunday.
If Condo does not play on Sunday, Travis Goethel who had the three bad snaps against San Diego still figures to be the long snapper for the Raiders. Oakland did sign Nick Guess, a long snapper that was with San Diego during camp to the practice squad, but unless he is promoted to the active roster or the team signs someone else, Goethel will still be the one replacing Condo.
Denver took a loss at defensive end this week as they put Ty Warren on the injured reserve list. Warren re-tore his triceps in the game against Pittsburgh. This is unfortunate for Denver as Warren had 373 tackles, and 20.5 sacks in seven seasons with New England from 2003-2009.
For Kansas City Brandon Flowers, 258 tackles, 13 interceptions in his career, was limited in practice Wednesday and is still questionable for Sunday's game against Buffalo. Safety Kendrick Lewis, 90 tackles and six interceptions in his career, is also questionable for Sunday's game.
Kansas City's defense got beat up by Atlanta's offense in week one and desperately need all the help they can get going forward.
Can the AFC West Make the Bleeding Stop?: Penalties and Turnovers
In week one there were 23 penalties called against teams of the AFC West with a total of 183 yards given up because of these penalties. The biggest offender was the San Diego Chargers who were penalized nine times for 78 yards. Additionally, San Diego also incurred their penalties at the most inopportune times.
San Diego had four penalties called on their defense, with three of those penalties giving Oakland a fresh set of downs, and two of those three were on fourth down during Oakland's late game touchdown drive.
When it comes to turnovers, San Diego was the only AFC West team not to have one in week one.
Both Denver and Oakland had fumbles early on in their games, however, neither turnover led to any points for the other team.
Kansas City was not as lucky though, as quarterback Matt Cassel lost a fumble on a sack and threw two interceptions, which Atlanta turned into 13 points.
Each team in the division is going to need to do better with penalties and turnovers, because sooner or later it will cost them points and could cost the team the win.
Watch Out For Special Teams in Week 2
The special teams units played a big role in the outcomes of games for the teams in the AFC West in week one, and it will be interesting to see the role they play in week two.
In the place kicking department, the four AFC West kickers made nine field goals on ten tries. Nate Kaeding of the San Diego Chargers was a perfect five for five in his game against Oakland, while Ryan Succop of Kansas City had the only missed field goal. Additionally, Kaeding, Succop and Matt Prater of Denver were successful on six out of six extra point attempts. Oakland only scored one touchdown, in their loss to San Diego, and completed a two-point conversion meaning Sebastian Janikowski did not attempt any extra points.
In Oakland it was not only the place kicking unit that determined the outcome of the game. After long snapper Jon Condon was injured with a concussion, he was replaced by inexperienced Travis Goethel. Two of Goethel's snaps were in the dirt both of which resulted in no punts and gave San Diego good field position. Additionally, a third Oakland punt was blocked by San Diego.
San Diego capitalized and turned the three Oakland miscues into nine points.
Can We Get a Red Zone Touchdown?
In week one the four teams of the AFC West made it inside the red zone a total of 13 times but only came away with six touchdowns, with the worst effort coming from San Diego who scored only one touchdown in five trips to the red zone.
In the four attempts when they did not get into the end zone, the drives stalled out on the Oakland five yard-line, the ten-yard line, the one-yard line, and the last trip they got pushed back to Oakland's 27-yard line.
Oakland scored one red zone touchdown on two attempts, with one attempt ending with a field goal from the two-yard line and the other resulting in a two-yard touchdown pass.
Denver scored two touchdowns on four red zone attempts, scoring the touchdowns on a seven-yard run and a one-yard touchdown, with the other two trips ending at the Pittsburgh eight-yard line and the Pittsburgh 11-yard line.
Kansas City did not do much else right in week one, but they did score touchdowns on both of their red zone visits, scoring on a five-yard run and a four-yard run.
It is often difficult to punch the ball once inside your opponent's 20-yard line, however, the most effective offenses will find a way to get it done.
This should be an interesting weekend of football for the four teams in the AFC West. We will have one heavyweight bout between Denver and Atlanta, a seemingly easy win for San Diego, and a couple of sloppy back and forth battles between Oakland and Miami, and between Kansas City and Buffalo.
Kansas City @ Buffalo: Buffalo wins 28-14
Oakland @ Miami: Oakland wins 14-10
Tennessee @ San Diego: San Diego wins 35-27
Denver @ Atlanta: Denver wins 45-42
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