AFC West 2017 Week 7 Preview & Predictions

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u  AFC West Week 7

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (5-1) & OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-4)

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders

Thursday Night Game

The Kansas City Chiefs suffered their first lost in week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Oakland Raiders had their 4th loss in a row in week 6 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

In week 7, these two teams will try to brush off their respective losses and end the week with a win.

What can we expect in week 7?

  • The Kansas City Chiefs Run Game.

This season, the Chiefs have found success with rookie running back Kareem Hunt.

The run game has been a powerful asset to many teams this season, and the Chiefs are no exception.  But in week 6, the Chiefs had the fewest rushing yards of any game this year with just 28.  Hunt was held to only 21 rushing yards, with the remaining essentially coming from Alex Smith.

With the Raiders having the 21st ranked defense against the run, Hunt will likely find an opportunity to improve on his numbers from week 6.  But the Chiefs shouldn’t take the Oakland defense too lightly.  Oakland held the Los Angeles Chargers offense, including stud RB Melvin Gordon, to just 80 total rushing yards last week.

With that said, I still expect Hunt to put up at least 100 rushing yards.

  • The Oakland Raiders Run Game.

There were high expectations for Marshawn Lynch going into the season.  Many thought the Raiders would finally have a dependable run game to rely on.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the case.  Lynch has yet to break 100 rushing yards in a single game this season, has tallied just 2 rushing touchdowns and has only two games with over 50 rushing yards.

With the Chiefs defense 30th overall against the run, this could be Lynch’s breakout week in Raiders backfield.

This will be particularly critical in light of Derek Carr still recovering from injury.

  • The Oakland Raiders Pass offense.

With his best two games at the beginning of the season, Derek Carr had progressively gotten worse throughout the season.  Having only a single touchdown in his last three games, along with 4 interceptions, Carr currently has a quarterback rating of just 38.6.

With the Chiefs with an overall defense ranking of 21 and and being 17th against the pass, the Raiders will have some opportunities on Thursday night.

The Chiefs are weakest against WR3 and WR4 (5th), but also only rank 15th against tight ends.  Unfortunately, they are also ranked 2nd against running back receptions, so Jalen Richard may have some trouble.  On average, the Chiefs defense has allowed 247.5 passing yards per game and allowed 130.7 rushing yards per game.

Expect Derek Carr to throw a lot against this Chiefs defense, with Michael Crabtree in line for another breakout, and perhaps opportunity for an Amari Cooper bounce back.

  • Alex Smith

Alex Smith has been on point this season.  Currently, Smith has the 3rd most passing yards this season (1637 passing yards), a 72.9 completion percentage, 12 touchdowns (5th most among quarterbacks) and has thrown no interceptions.

With the Raiders defense is 31st overall and 18th against the pass, allowing a average of 232.7 passing yards  per game and 117.2 rushing yards per game.

With the Oakland defense weak across the board, the Chiefs should have open opportunity marching downfield.

I’d expect Travis Kelce to have a touchdown.

  • Oakland Defense

Not much more to say here, but they did newly add linebacker Navarro Bowman to help stop Kareem Hunt and the Chiefs offense.

  • The History

Expect a high scoring game for both teams.

In the end…

The Kansas City Chiefs Win.

DENVER BRONCOS (3-2) & LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (2-4)

Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Chargers

Coming off a bye-week, the Denver Broncos lost at home to the New York Giants in week 6, 10-23, giving the Giants their first win of the season.

What happened?  Trevor Siemian threw 2 interceptions and the Broncos had only 46 rushing yards.

The Los Angeles Chargers, on the other hand, have won two games in a row, defeating the AFC West rival Oakland Raiders, 17-16.

How did the Chargers win?  First, Derek Carr threw for only 171 yards along with 2 interceptions. Second, Giorgio Tavecchio missed an extra point on their second to last possession of the ball.  And last, the Chargers, behind Nick Novak, were finally able kick a field goal at the end of a game.

In week 7, the Chargers and the Broncos will meet for the second time this season.  The two teams faced-off in the mile-high city during week 1, where the Chargers lost 21-24.

What can we expect in week 7?

  • The Denver Broncos offense.

After declaring Trevor Siemian potentially the new Broncos franchise quarterback after the first two weeks of the season, Siemian is now considered their weak link to championship contention.

The New York Giants had the 27th ranked defense in the league heading into week 6, but held the 17th overall ranked offense to just 10 points, while the Giants 22nd ranked offense (without OBJ, Brandon Marshall or Sterling Sheppard) somehow outplayed the 7th ranked Broncos defense.

This is the second game of the season where Siemian has thrown 2 interceptions, ending in a loss.  The first time was in week 3 against the Buffalo Bills, which they lost 16-26.

Avoiding turnovers will be the key for Siemian and the Broncos in Sunday’s game against the Chargers.

According to Football Outsiders, the Broncos enter into week 7 ranked 19th overall in offense.

Both the Chargers and Broncos defense have only 4 interceptions each this season.

According to Football Outsiders, the Chargers have the 28th ranked run defense and have allowed the most rushing yards this season, an average of 152.5 yards per game.  In week 1, the Broncos had 140 rushing yards against the Chargers with Siemian having the sole rushing touchdown.  Broncos running back, C.J. Anderson, is in a prime spot to bounce back from his awful 9 carry for 17 yard performance against the G-Men, which is good seeing as how the Raiders will need the run game to set the tone Sunday and return to winning.

With the 12th overall defense against the pass, and the Chargers having allowed the 4th fewest passing yards this season, Siemian will need to be careful.  With the Chargers defense weakest against WR1 (21st), WR3 (20th) and tight ends(18th), this may open additional opportunity for Demaryius Thomas (WR) and Virgil Green (TE) or AJ Derby (TE), particularly with Emmanuel Sanders out with a sprained ankle.

Expect Green or Derby to have a touchdown.

  • The Los Angeles Chargers Offense.

According to Football Outsiders, the Los Angeles Chargers are currently ranked 15th overall in offense, being 10th in passing and 30th in the run game.

In week 6, the Giants had 148 total rushing yards, which was the most this season against the Broncos 1st overall run defense, but don’t expect the Broncos to let it happen two weeks in a row.

When the Chargers and Broncos faced-off in week 1, the Chargers were held to only 64 rushing yards and no rushing touchdowns.  In week 6, Melvin Gordon found success against the Raiders with 83 rushing yards and a touchdown, but don’t expect the run game to be as dominant against the Broncos.  Gordon is an important part of this offense, and if the Chargers want to win, Gordon will need to be involved on the ground and catching passes.

The Chargers will need to expose the Broncos defensive weakness against tight ends and wide receivers other than WR1 (3rd).

This should provide some opportunity to emerging tight end, Derek Henry (who’d been under used until the last two weeks), and wide receivers Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin and even rookie wide receiver Mike Williams.  Williams had his first target and reception for 15 yards in week 6 against the Raiders after sitting out the first five games of the season with a herniated disk in his lower back.  Having potential to be a breakout player for the Chargers, Williams should be someone to watch when he returns to full health.

Mike Williams

Expect a Derek Henry touchdown.

  • Is the Denver Broncos Defense really that good?

They have their moments, but the Giants humiliated them in week 6.  The Broncos are 8th overall in defense.  They’ve allowed the second fewest rushing yards all season, an average of 70.2 yards per game, and the sixth fewest passing yards, an average of 191.6 yards per game.

In week 6, the Broncos defense looked out of sync, allowing the Giants to look better than they looked all season.

The Broncos will be looking to bounce back against the Chargers.

  • Is Los Angeles Chargers defense Good Enough to make them Super Bowl contenders?

If there’s anything we’ve learned from watching the NFL all these years, it’s that teams either need a kick-ass quarterback or an unbeatable defense to become a Super Bowl contender.  The Chargers have neither.  The Chargers are 17th overall in defense.  They’ve allowed the most rushing yards in the league, 152.5 average yards per game, but have allowed the 4th fewest passing yards, 186 average yards per game.  Winning only two games this season, and tied with the Raiders for last place, Sunday’s game will be a key game against division rivals and an indicator of whether the Chargers are actually turning their season around.

The Chargers are favored for the first time all season.

The Chargers almost defeat the Broncos in week 1.  With new kicker Nick Novak, the Chargers (probably) won’t lose by a field goal.

  • The Outcome.

Expect a defensive touchdown.

The Los Angeles Chargers Win.

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