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AFC West Update: John Elway expecting more from the Broncos defense

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No one thought the Oakland Raiders would be 1-5 almost halfway through the year, but here we are.

Head Coach Jon Gruden and the coaching staff are working tirelessly to get this situation resolved, but it’s going to require patience — which I know many of you are struggling with, and I understand.

It’s frustrating, but Gruden is laying the foundation for what lies ahead, and that’s exciting. While we may not see it at the present, the front office is establishing its system, and it will come together at some point.

Through six weeks of action, the Raiders have squared off against division opponents twice, and in the second half of 2018 they’ll be tested four more times, with three of them coming at home. It may be a bye week for the team, but it’s not for the rest of the Raiders’ rivals; let’s take a look at what’s going down in the AFC West.

Denver Broncos

John Elway isn’t happy.

After winning the first two games of 2018 the Broncos have gone on a four-game skid. Earlier this week, Elway came out and declared the defense — which has been touted as one of the best in football for years now — “soft.” Players like former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller know the pressure is on, and he expects the team to rebound this week against the Arizona Cardinals.

"I wouldn’t say it’s a must-win, but we gonna kick their [butt] though,” Miller told the media Tuesday. “Make sure you put that up there. We’re gonna kick their ass. They’re gonna get our best this week.”

Under the leadership of Head Coach Vance Joseph the team is 7-15, and while Denver has withstood sloppy quarterback play the last few years, Case Keenum is now at the helm, and there isn’t much of an excuse for that anymore. We’ll see if the Broncos can avoid playing “soft” during Thursday Night Football against the Cardinals.

Kansas City Chiefs

They may be 5-1, but the Chiefs were close to being 6-0.

It’s not easy to go into Foxborough and take down Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, but Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes almost did it. It was a high-scoring affair on the East Coast, with both teams putting up 40 points, and it was all behind yet another stellar performance from young Mahomes. In his first start against Tom Brady, Mahomes dropped 352 yards passing, four touchdowns, and finished with a better QBR than his counterpart (69 compared to Brady’s 66.6).

In his first true season as the Chiefs starting quarterback, Mahomes has been exceptional, but he’s made a few mistakes along the way. While he leads the NFL in passing touchdowns with 18, he’s also thrown four interceptions — certainly a stat of note, but he’s human. Reid’s high-flying offense doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon; we’ll see if they can defeat a Cincinnati Bengals team that’s started the season on a positive note.

Los Angeles Chargers

What a difference a year makes in the NFL; this time last year the Chargers were 2-4, but the Bolts are currently 4-2, just one game behind the Chiefs for the AFC West lead. 

Remember when Melvin Gordon failed to score a rushing touchdown his entire rookie campaign? Well, the former University of Wisconsin Badger is a scoring machine these days. Gordon is the NFL’s third-leading rusher with 466 yards, and has the third-most rushing touchdowns with six. His success has led to strong performances from the Bolts, and he hasn’t been the only one showing out. Veteran signal-caller Philip Rivers has been a man on a mission this season, with 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions to his name. The Chargers might be without Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa, but it hasn’t mattered because the offense has been putting points on the board like it’s nothing. Bosa is looking forward to a Week 9 return, but in his absence the team is doing just fine.

The Chargers get a home game against Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns this weekend.

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