The bye week is finally upon us and the Oakland Raiders will take advantage of their time off with some well-earned rest. Through nine weeks, the Silver and Black sit atop the AFC West with a record of 7-2, the first time since their 2001 campaign when they began 8-2. Trailing closely behind are the Denver Broncos (6-3) and the Kansas City Chiefs (6-2), both of whom will face the Raiders again further down the road. While Head Coach Jack Del Rio, Derek Carr, and company take some time away from the field, let's take a look at what's going on around the division.
The Broncos entered the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Sunday night 6-2, but left 6-3. The Raiders defeated the reigning Super Bowl champs in convincing fashion 30-20 on primetime. Denver will have an opportunity to rebound this week when they take on the New Orleans Saints who are currently in the midst of a two-game winning streak.
Last week against the Raiders, Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe was carted off the field with what appeared to be an elbow injury and did not return. After a little more than j half of the 2016 season in the books, Wolfe has the second-highest sack total on the Broncos (4.5), while linebacker Von Miller leads the pack (9.5).
Wolfe's ability to attack the pocket and bring down the quarterback is a vital component of the Broncos defense, and it seems as though the fifth-year player will be unable to contribute to his team for at least a couple of weeks, according to DenverBroncos.com.
You can catch the Broncos game this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time when they battle Drew Brees and the Saints high-powered offense at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs finally have a player returning from injury, and it's none other than linebacker Justin Houston. Just two seasons ago, Houston led the NFL in total sacks with 22.0, his fourth year in the league. Wednesday afternoon, the Chiefs activated Houston from the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, and he has been practicing with the team since October 19.
Houston was originally placed on the PUP list back in August when he underwent a procedure to repair an injured left knee. The team feels confident having him back and that he's continuing to make improvements in his recovery.
"I can tell you that he's made tremendous strides from that first week he was out there to last week," Head Coach Andy Reid said last Monday. "You could just tell his awareness out there was better, the speed of the game, it looked like he was settling down to that a little bit."
It remains to be seen when Houston will join the rest of his team on the gridiron, but in the meantime he'll continue to get up to speed. The Chiefs take on the Carolina Panthers this Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.
San Diego Chargers
Running back Melvin Gordon has torched opposing teams this season with his blazing speed and lateral quickness. A season ago, Gordon failed to get in the end zone, as he was held without a touchdown for the entire 2015 campaign. This year, the second-year running back has flipped a 180 degree turn, and is tied for the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL. He's also the third-leading rusher in the league with 768 yards, eclipsing his rookie season total of 641 yards.
Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, Gordon showcased why he deserved to be taken with the 15th overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. The Wisconsin-product erupted for 196 yards on 32 carries with one rushing touchdown, and added 65 receiving yards on the day. Gordon is an all-around talent that can benefit the offense in a variety of facets.
His performance on Sunday earned him the AFC Offensive Player of the Week award, and for good reason. Gordon is a key component on the Chargers and his skill set makes him one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL.
Gordon and Co. will have a chance to be .500 this Sunday when they take on the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., kick off starts at 1:05 p.m. Pacific Time.