AFC West Week 2 Preview and Predictions

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u 

I’m a firm believer that every team starts with a clean slate at the beginning of each season.  Sure, you have power rakings after the pre-season.  You have fantasy analysis for the top skill positions, defenses and kickers.  And sure, you have the standard players that bring your fantasy team to victory, but that doesn’t dictate which team loses and wins in the NFL.  An example is the week 1 matchup between the Oakland Raiders and the New Orleans Saints.  The Raiders won, 35-34, but Drew Brees had 39.42 fantasy points and Derek Carr had 24.36 points.

Some teams perform as expected, and some teams become a disappointment like the L.A. Rams.

So we enter week 2.  I’m still settling into my fantasy team.  Luckily, even though I’m expecting to lose my week 2 fantasy matchup based on Thursday night stats alone, a couple of loses doesn’t mean a losing season.  The same rules apply to the NFL, a couple of loses won’t necessarily mean a losing season, but it will eventually become an uphill battle.

In the AFC West, three teams are 1-0, and one, the San Diego Chargers, is 0-1.  Standing in the bottom of the AFC West division entering into week 2 isn’t too concerning, but if the San Diego Chargers go 0-2, they are looking at another losing season.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (1-0)

Kansas City ChiefsHouston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans

See AFC South preview and predictions.

DENVER BRONCOS (1-0)

Indianapolis ColtsDenver Broncos Logo

Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos

This will be an interesting match-up, testing both teams.  A strong Indianapolis Colts offense against a strong Denver Broncos defense.

A rivalry has existed between these two teams since Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts and became the quarterback for the Denver Broncos.  Since then, these two teams have faced-off four times.  And, the Indianapolis Colts, with Andrew Luck as quarterback, has won 3 of 4 games against the Denver Broncos, with quarterback Peyton Manning.

Now that Peyton Manning is retired and Trevor Siemian is under center, the quarterback rivalry might be gone, but an AFC rivalry still exists.

There’s been a lot of criticism of the Colts defensive performance against the Detroit Lions in week 1.  But in all fairness, it’s not like things have gotten worse, as the Colts 2015 defense was among the worst in the league in yards allowed, among the worse in the league in the number of total sacks and allowed an average of 25.5 points per game.

In week 1, the Indianapolis defense allowed 448 yards – 332 passing yards and 116 rushing yards.  A weak Colts defense bodes well for Trevor Siemian and the Denver offense, who passed for 178 yards, 1 touchdown to C.J. Anderson, and two rushing touchdowns, managing a narrow victory against the Carolina Panthers (21-20) in week 1.

As for the Denver defense, they understand the work that needs to be done facing the Colts.  Andrew Luck is a better quarterback, has greater arm strength, football IQ and experience comparatively to Trevor Siemian, but with minor changes in the Denver defense, they should be ready for a hard fought shoot-out on Sunday.  The Broncos were the number one rated defenders against the pass in 2015 and performed admirably in week 1.  In week 1, Luck threw for 385 passing yards and 4 touchdowns.  It’s pretty clear that the Broncos defense secondary will be the key to victory.  The Denver defense will need to minimize the time the Colts offense is on-field, have an effective pass rush and limit the time and opportunity for Luck to make plays.

It’s probably easier said than done.

andrew-luck-escaping-defense

Andrew Luck – Getty Image

The Denver Broncos defense will have their work cut out for them defending against the Colts powerhouse offense with receivers Donte Moncrief, T.Y. Hilton, Phillip Dorsett and tight end Dwayne Allen.

What can we expect in WEEK 2:

  • Travor Siemian rushes for a touchdown.
  • Donte Moncrief has a touchdown.
  • Phillip Dorsett has a touchdown.

A close game.  But, the Indianapolis Colts win in Denver.

OAKLAND RAIDERS (1-0)

Atlanta FalconsOakland Raiders

Atlanta Falcons @ Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders should have a new slogan…DETERMINATION NATION, making two very risky two-point conversion attempts in week 1 against the New Orleans Saints that lead to a come from behind win (35-34).  Of course, the missed 34-yard field goal helped.

In week 2, we reset the clock.  The Raiders will have a new challenge, the Atlanta Falcons.

The key to the Falcon’s offense in 2015 was the rushing game with Devonta Freeman.   In week 1, the Falcons’ rushing game was shut down by the division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers, totaling just 52-yards on 22 attempts.  The good news for the Falcons, they might not need a good ground game against the Raiders.  The Raiders defense showed weakness against the pass, allowing 419 passing yards.

The Falcons’ shouldn’t celebrate just yet.  Wide receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu have been limited in practice due to an ankle injury.  With two of their top receivers limited and no ground game, the Falcons could be looking at another tough loss.

sanu

Mohamed Sanu – FoxSports.com Photo

If the Falcons have any hope in winning, they will need to limit penalties, score in the red zone, attack the quarterback and get their ground game going.

In week 1, the Raiders defense allowed the most total yards (507) against the New Orleans Saints, with the New Orleans Saints, allowing the second most total yards (486).  Nobody expects the Raiders defense to improve 110% by week 2, but they won’t need to if quarterback Derek Carr and the offense can keep up the momentum from week 1.

If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to poke holes in the Falcons defense in week 1, allowing quarterback Jameis Winston 281 passing yards and 4 touchdowns, the Oakland Raiders should be able to do the same.

Amari Cooper - Getty Images

Amari Cooper – Getty Images

The Falcons will be heading into some trouble in week 2.  The Raiders have a group of talented young players.  With a gunslinger quarterback Derek Carr, a receiver duo in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, a pass rushing terror in Khalil Mack and a coaching staff unafraid to take chances, the Raiders are no longer a doormat to be taken lightly.

What can we expect in WEEK 2:

  • Derek Carr has a rushing touchdown.
  • Amari Cooper has a touchdown.
  • Tevin Coleman has a touchdown.

The Oakland Raiders win.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (0-1)

Jacksonville Jaguarssan-diego-chargers

Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers finished last season with a 4-12 record and they’re looking to prove that they can be a powerhouse team in the AFC West.  Unfortunately, they lost week 1 to the division rival Kansas City Chiefs.  It was a heartbreaking defeat for the Chargers, and an incredible come from behind win for the Chiefs in over-time.  It probably wouldn’t have been so surprising, except the Chargers were leading up until the 4th quarter, winning 24-10, then collapsed under the pressure in the fourth quarter, unable to score a touchdown in the second half.

Heading into week 2, the good news for the Chargers is they looked like a better team overall compared to their 2015 season.  The bad news?  The Chargers lost wide receiver, Keenan Allen, leaving a hole in the passing game.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are another young up-and-coming team, like the Oakland Raiders, looking to make some waves and get some recognition in the AFC.  Coincidently, Blake Bortles (1st round, 3rd pick) and Derek Carr (2nd round, 36th pick) were both drafted in 2014.  Week 1, the narrow victory by the Green Bay Packers against the Jaguars demonstrates how far the Jaguars have developed as a team.

These two teams have faced each other 8 times with the Chargers winning 6.  The Jaguars have lost five consecutive games against the Chargers.  And Blake Bortles has been the quarterback in the last two games lost.

The Jaguars and Chargers are both 0-1 starting the season and neither team is looking to become 0-2.  They both have their work cut out for them as they face-off on Sunday.

The Chargers have a seasoned quarterback with Philip Rivers, entering his 13th season.  His winning record over the Jaguars should give him some confidence going into Sunday’s game.  Even with the loss of wide receiver Keenan Allen, Rivers still has powerhouse veteran tight-end Antonio Gates, wide receiver Travis Benjamin (formally a Cleveland Brown – 966 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in 2015), wide receiver Tyrell Williams (who caught 2-out-of-5 receptions for 71 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs), and Danny Woodhead, slotted as a running back but know to be a versatile player with 89 rushing yards, 31 receiving yards and 1 receiving touchdown in week 1.

Danny Woodhead NYPost.com/ Getty Image

Danny Woodhead – Getty Images

In week 1, the Chargers defense allowed 330 passing yards and 83 rushing yards.  If week 1 is any indication of week 2, the Jaguars should be able to exploit the Chargers weak pass defense throwing to receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, as well as tight ends Mercedes Lewis and Julius Thomas.  The Jaguars have a significant play book and Bortles has only seasoned with his years in the NFL.  If the Jaguars hope to break the losing streak against the Chargers, they will need to avoid penalties (in week 1, the Jaguars had 9 penalties totaling 79 yards against the Green Bay Packers), avoid turnovers and maintain a strong front offensive line to give Bortles enough time to dissect the defense.

Allen Robinson - Getty Images

Allen Robinson – USAToday.com Photo

Philip Rivers will definitely have a challenge ahead of him.  The Jaguars defense allowed only 199 passing yards and 95 rushing yards in week 1 against the Green Bay Packers.  With the acquisition of defensive tackle Malik Jackson to assist the front line and cornerback Prince Amukamara to break up plays down field, the Chargers will be facing a fast defensive front line and trouble down field.  You can be certain the Danny Woodhead will be a big part of Sunday’s game with his versatility and speed.

What can we expect in WEEK 2:

  • Danny Woodhead has two touchdowns.
  • Mercedes Lewis had a touchdown.
  • Allen Robinson has a touchdown.

The Jacksonville Jaguars win.

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