The Oakland Raiders are coming off of their bye week and have begun preparation for their Week 11 bout against the Houston Texans. While the Silver and Black had an opportunity to relax and take some time off, the rest of the AFC West did not. In the Raiders absence from the gridiron, the Kansas City Chiefs (7-2) and Denver Broncos (6-3) continued to surge. The Chiefs are now in first place with Oakland trailing close behind in the division, while the Broncos sit only half a game back. It appeared as though the Chiefs and Broncos might lose on Sunday, but both were able to pull off a pair of wild come-from-behind victories.
It's a foot race out west and while each game becomes increasingly more important, let's take a look around the division and get caught up on the action.
As the Broncos enter their bye week, let's break down the team through the first 10 games of the season.
Heading into the 2016 campaign, much was made about who Denver would start under center following the loss of two-time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning. With second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian – his first year starting – leading the way for the team, the Broncos offense currently ranks 24th in passing yards per game (227.3) and 27th in total offensive yards per game (324.7) through the first 10 games of the season.
What has helped the Broncos sustain their success is the consistent level of play from the defense. Denver is the fifth-best defense when it comes to total yards per game allowed (318) and first in passing yards per game allowed (194.3). The team's defense and special teams has kept them in games and even won some tight contests, most recently when it blocked the New Orleans Saints extra point attempt in Week 10 that resulted in a returned two-point score for the game-winner.
The reigning Super Bowl victors are nipping at the heels of the Raiders and Chiefs, but will have to hold off on their pursuit of first place in the division until next week when they face the Chiefs at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado. The matchup could be a big game with a lot of playoff implications when the two division foes meet on the gridiron.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have officially risen to the top of the AFC West after putting together an impressive string of wins dating back to last season. Since Week 5 of 2015 season, Kansas City has rattled off an astounding 18-2 regular season record.
Since joining the team in 2013, Head Coach Andy Reid has helped the franchise become a regular playoff contender. Despite suffering a plethora of injuries, the Chiefs have continued to be successful without players like running back Jamaal Charles, linebacker Justin Houston, and quarterback Alex Smith. The "next man up" mentality has certainly been present on this team and the players have risen to the occasion.
The good news for the Chiefs is that Houston should be making his return to the field in the near future. His exact return hasn't been specified, but according to Chiefs.com the First-Team All-Pro linebacker has been participating in on-field activity for a couple weeks now.
This week the Chiefs will get to take a whack at a young Tampa Bay Buccaneers team with a lot of promise, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Bucs will travel to Kansas City and take on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium 10:00 a.m. PST.
San Diego Chargers
Things seemed to be on the rise for the Bolts, but alas, the team recently suffered yet another season-ending injury to an important leader on the roster.
According to Chargers.com, it was announced Monday afternoon by the team's Head Coach Mike McCoy that nose tackle Brandon Mebane suffered a biceps injury, thus putting him out of commission for the remainder of the year. Among the Chargers defensive linemen, Mebane led the group with 35 tackles and also contributed a sack to go along with four tackles for loss.
The loss is another devastating blow to an already depleted Bolts roster and linebacker Melvin Ingram shared his thoughts on Mebane's injury.
"It's a brutal injury for us and tough because he's one of the best football players on our team," said Ingram. "To see him go down, it's tough."
The team appeared to be improving as of late, but will have to find another way to regroup after their bye week. Their next game will be in Houston when they face the Texans at NRG Stadium PST.