It's Week 8 of the NFL season and the halfway point of year has nearly arrived. After seven games, the AFC West has established itself as one of the toughest divisions – if not the toughest – in the league. From top to bottom, the AFC West is loaded with talent, and teams that could emerge as playoff contenders down the road.
The Oakland Raiders currently sit atop the division with the Denver Broncos at 5-2, while the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers trail. The Bolts have suffered an overwhelming amount of injuries in the first quarter of the season, but it now it appears as though the Broncos are being hit with the injury bug.
This week should be filled with lots of AFC West action and storylines, so let's get you updated with a look around the division.
Monday night, the Broncos played host to former Denver quarterback Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans. Osweiler was widely regarded as the next face of the Broncos franchise after the retirement of Peyton Manning. Instead, this story went a different direction, as he opted to sign with the Texans as a free agent.
The Broncos defense put on a show the entire evening, holding the Texans to three field goals, and not letting the offense do much of anything. To complement the defense, the Broncos' running attack was prevalent as running backs C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker shredded the Texans defense for 190 yards, and two touchdowns.
Anderson led the way with 107 yards on the ground, but following the game he was diagnosed with a right knee injury. NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Thursday that the injury doesn't appear to be an ACL tear. Published reports Thursday indicate Anderson could miss the rest of the season.
Denver will take on AFC West rival San Diego this Sunday at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado, at 1:05 PT.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are on a two-game winning streak after their bye week in Week 5, and have looked solid since. Last week the team battled against Drew Brees and the Saints to tack on their fourth win of the year. What's most impressive is that the team has been able to accomplish a lot, in the wake of Jamaal Charles absence.
Dating back to last season, the Chiefs have won 15 of their last 17 games, not including the playoffs. The team has maintained a "next man up" mentality, and it's clearly paying off. With Charles gone, running back Spencer Ware has made his mark this season, taking over the majority of touches out of the backfield.
In his third season, Ware is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, has rushed for 492 yards, has scored two rushing touchdowns, and has hauled in 15 receptions for 285 yards. The versatile back has been giving defenses fits all season, and until Charles is 100 percent, he should continue to create problems for opposing teams. Charles has continued to see an increased workload, and should be brought along slowly.
San Diego Chargers
After starting the 2016 season 1-4, the Chargers have made an attempt to turn things around. In the early going, the Bolts were unable to close out games they could've won. If they had done so, the team's record might look entirely different, but that's not the case.
The arrival of defensive end Joey Bosa has provided the Chargers with a much needed spark. The ample amount of injuries endured sucked the wind out of the team's sails. Since his first NFL game, Bosa has helped the team win two out of those three matchups. The rookie's stats so far prove why the Chargers took him with the third overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Through three games, Bosa has tallied four sacks, showcasing his athleticism and speed off the edge. After last week's performance against the Atlanta Falcons, the Ohio State-product has been nominated for AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
If the Chargers continue to perform at their current level, NFL analysts around the league should continue to emphasize that this is an underrated team. With the depleted roster and limited weapons on offense, Philip Rivers has kept this team on track, and continues to show spectators why he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league.