AFC West Week 4 Preview & Predictions

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u  AFC West Week 4

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-0)

Washington Redskins (2-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs host the Monday Night game against the Washington Redskins.  The Chiefs are 3-0 and lead the AFC West, while the Redskins are 2-1 having defeated the Oakland Raiders in week 3, 10-27.

Can the Chiefs finish week 4 undefeated?

What can we expect in week 4?

  • The Washington Redskins are on a roll.

After losing week 1 to the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington has won their last two games against the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

With Kirk Cousins best game in week 3, completing 25 of 30 passes for 365 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions, the Washington offense is currently ranked 12th overall.

Kirk Cousins – Getty Images

According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs defense is 11th overall (8th against the pass and 26th against the run) with the defense best against defending wide receiver 2 (3rd overall), tight ends (7th overall) and running back receptions (5th overall) and worst in defending wide receiver 3 and 4 (21st overall).

Running back Chris Thompson has seen a lot of playing time in Rob Kelley’s absence.  In week 3, Thompson had 38 rushing yards in 8 attempts, but had 150 receiving yards and a touchdown.  Thompson likely find as much success catching passes against the Chiefs, but should still be heavily involved, even if Kelley returns, which for now seems likely.

With the Chiefs defense allowing an average of 111.7 rushing yards, whether it be Kelley or Samaje Perine with the early down work, either will likely be the more effective running back on Sunday, which could be a major factor for Washington.

In the pass game, the Chiefs have allowed an average of 257.3 passing yards per game.  With weakness covering wide receiver 3 and 4, you can expect Josh Doctson to have another good week.

Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. was supposed to be the new play maker in the absence of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.  Pryor has yet to add much value to the team, having caught only 10 of 19 targets for just 116 empty receiving yards this season.  Having little chemistry with Kirk Cousins, Pryor looks to be a decoy more than a play maker.

This would be a good week for Cousins to take advantage of the underrated Pryor, so expect him to get his first touchdown of the season.

  • The Kansas City Chiefs Rule.

According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs offense is currently ranked first in the league.  The Chiefs strongest offensive player has been rookie running back, Kareem Hunt.

According to Football Outsiders, Washington’s defense is ranked 3rd overall (7th against the pass game and 3rd against the run), moving up from 12th after defeating the Raiders.

Washington has allowed an average of only 62.3 rushing yards per game, so finding running room on Sunday might be tough for Hunt.  But Hunt may be able to take advantage of Washington’s 15th ranked defense against running back receptions.

Washington’s secondary is best against wide receivers (4th against wide receiver 1, 3 and 4, while 7th against wide receiver 2) and worst against tight ends (30th overall).

Allowing an average of 209.7 passing yards per game, Alex Smith will need to take advantage of tight end Travis Kelce.  Kelce was targeted only once in week 3, but has a total of 144 receiving yards and a touchdown for the season.

The Washington defense isn’t as good as the rankings suggest…

The Kansas City Chiefs Win.

DENVER BRONCOS (2-1) & OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-1)

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos

In week 3, the Oakland Raiders lost to the Washington Redskins, 10-27, and the Denver Broncos lost to the Buffalo Bills, 16-26.

Two powerhouse teams quickly fell to 2-1 in a bizarre week of football where the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Baltimore Ravens and the Chicago Bears beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Both teams will need to overcome the setback and look forward to week 4, but only one of these division rivals will get a win.

What can we expect in week 4?

  • The Game Plan.

According to Football Outsiders, the Broncos have the 9th overall defense in the league going in to week 4 (16th against the pass and 1st against the run), while the Raiders have the 30th ranked defense (28th against the pass and 17th against the run).

There’s no denying the growth that Trevor Siemian has shown so far this season, but as we saw in week 3, it’s not infallible.  Can the Oakland defense do the same and stop the pass game?

Trevor Siemian – USA Today Sports Photo

Oakland are worst at defending against running back receptions (32nd overall), while are best at covering receivers 3 and 4 (17th), and tight ends (18th).  This gives Broncos running back C.J. Anderson a great opportunity to dominate Sunday’s game against the Raiders.  If Denver can dominate the ground game, the Raiders could be in trouble.

With the Broncos allowing only 59.7 rushing yards per game and having not allowed a rushing touchdown this season, Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch might have trouble getting into gear.  More vulnerable against the pass, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will need to be on-point on Sunday in Denver if the Raiders have any chance of winning.  With the Denver defense weakest against receivers 3 and 4 (24th overall) and tight ends (25th overall), Raiders tight end Jared Cook will need to step up and be a bigger part of Sunday’s game.

However, if Micheal Crabtree is limited on Sunday, the Raiders will surely be facing an uphill battle with the Denver defense blanketing the field without a major target to take away the heat.  Amari Cooper, who’s caught only 10 of 23 targets for just 101 total yards this season, will need to step up this week regardless of Crabtree’s presence.

In week 3, Carr had his worst game, completing just 19 of 31 passes for only 118 passing yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions.  Denver will be the toughest defense they’ve faced so far this season, and Carr needs to have a short memory and lead this Raiders team if they want any chance of winning.

Expect this to be a relatively high scoring game.

  • The History

The Broncos and the Raiders have met 115 times.  The Broncos have won 50 to the Raiders 61 games during the course of their rivalry and the teams have tied twice.

Since Carr has been the Raiders quarterback, the Raiders have faced the Broncos 6 times with the Raiders winning twice, one of which was at Denver in November of 2016.

Coming off a bad loss to the Redskins, Carr will need to prove on Sunday that he can regain consistency and be the Raiders franchise quarterback.

The Denver Broncos Win.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (0-3)

Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Chargers

The 0-3 Los Angeles Chargers will host the Philadelphia Eagles in week 4, hoping for their first win.  After two devastating losses, the AFC rival Chiefs dominated the Chargers in week 3, 24-10, making them look inept and fallible.  Will the Chargers go 0-4?

What can we expect in week 4?

  • The Bounce Back?

The Chargers defense put up a great game in the first two weeks of the season, keeping opponent offenses in check and allowing them to stay in the game.  In week 3, the team was not as successful.  Although the Chargers had 330 offensive yards (226 passing yards and 104 rush yards), they were unable to score, having 3 turnovers and committing 8 penalties for a loss of 61 yards.  But that was nothing compared to the Chiefs 13 penalties for a loss of 122 yards.  Essentially, the turnovers were the difference.

According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles defense ranked 17th overall (14th against the pass and 20th against the run).  Against the run, the Eagles defense has allowed an average of only 75 rushing yards per game this season, but are ranked 29th overall against running back receptions.  Melvin Gordon should have ample opportunity against the Eagles.

In the pass game, the Eagles have a tendency to heavily cover wide receiver 2, but are inadequate in covering receivers 3 and 4.  The Chiefs had a similar problem in week 3, allowing Travis Benjamin to grab 5 of 8 targets and 105 receiving yards, while Tyrell Williams grabbed only 2 of 7 targets for 15 yards.

Expect T. Williams to finally have good week and Dontrelle Inman to see more targets.

But the key to this game will whether Rivers can avoid multiple interceptions.

  • Give Hunter Henry the Ball.

With one of the best tight ends in the NFL, Hunter Henry was left out of the game in week 3, seeing no targets.  Why?  Without Eric Berry on defense for the Chiefs, the middle of the field had room and with Henry’s ball handling, size and speed targeting him could have made a difference.  Even with the Eagles defense 12th against tight ends, Henry shouldn’t be ignored.

Hunter Henry

Of course, no one knows what rhyme or reason was behind the play calling in week 3, but here’s hoping they get Henry involved.

  • Chargers Defense

The Chargers defense is 14th overall (12th against the pass and 24th against the run).  They are best in defending against running back receptions, 2nd overall in the league, and worst at defending tight ends, 31st in the league.

With the Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zack Ertz grabbing 21 of 28 targets for 245 receiving yards and a touchdown this season, you can expect Ertz to be a big part of Sunday’s game against the Chargers.

Zach Ertz

In the run game, the Chargers defense has allowed 146.7 rushing yards per game this season.  With Legarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Carson Wentz all potential rushing threats, the Chargers defense will have their work cut out for them in defending against the backfield.

If the Chargers defense doesn’t stop the Eagles run game, they could be facing some trouble.  Establishing the run early will help the Eagles avoid having to rely on their pass game.

The Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has been sacked 11 times, intercepted twice, one of which was for a defensive touchdown this season.  If the Eagles can limit the number of times Wentz has to drop back in the pocket, the Chargers defense will have a hard time building on their impressive 11 sacks this season.

On the other side, Rivers has only been sacked 4 times, but has thrown 4 interceptions.  Interceptions were the Chargers downfall in week 3.

Expect a defensive touchdown.

The Los Angeles Chargers win.

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