A tumultuous week in the NFL was sent into a state of shock with the passing of Raider Owner Al Davis. His passing came on a Saturday before his beloved Raiders were to take the field at Reliant Stadium and take on the Houston Texans. In a display that would have made Davis proud, his Raiders willed their way to a 25-20 win to raise their record to 3-2which keeps them within one game of the division leading Chargers.
In a game where Darren McFadden was held to 51 yards rushing and Campbell to 184 yards passing, it was Sebastian Janikowski’s 4 field goals that were the difference. Early drives that were short circuited were just in range for Janikowski’s big leg where he connected from 55 and 54 yards to keep the Raiders in the game. In all he made 3 from beyond 50 yards in a single game. Are you kidding me?? Thats a seasonal statistic for a kicker. They also won with timely defense with a game sealing interception despite giving up 403 yards passing to Matt Scaub. The Texans were missing All Pro wideout Andre Johnson and the Raiders figured to stop the Texans aerial assault. Good thing they willed themselves to a victory or their record could have dropped to 2-3 and would have had them 2 games back to the Chargers and a third loss in the AFC making wild card tiebreakers difficult. Yet with a 3-2 record and their next two games against the Browns and Chiefs, the Raiders can finish the first half of the season on a winning streak. Take a look at the standings…
|San Diego||4||1||0||.800||3-0-0||1-1-0||2-0-0||3-1-0||120||109||+11||Won 3|
|Kansas City||2||3||0||.400||1-1-0||1-2-0||0-1-0||1-2-0||77||150||-73||Won 2|
Which leads us to the quiet San Diego Chargers who haven’t had the statistical season they had a year ago but the wins are more important for them. They’re still playing up and down to their competition only this year they have maintained leads until the end of games instead of coming from behind and falling short. Yet will this formula keep?? Even though they are 4-1 they have only outscored their opposition by only 11 points. Before holding off a furious rally by the Tim Tebow led Denver Broncos last week, those wins were courtesy of the hapless Miami Dolphins, a down Kansas City team, and a 1 win Vikings team. So are they as good as their 4-1 record?
A year ago Phillip Rivers threw for over 4700 yards, 30TDs and only 13 interceptions. Where this year he’s not having as good a season with 1,536 yards, 6TDs and 7 interceptions. He’s on pace for almost 5,000 yards yet another for 23 interceptions. Ryan Matthews is on pace for a 1300 yard season with over 413 yards with a gaudy 4.9 yard average. However.. how will Rivers and company play when they face stiffer competition?? They were manhandled against the Patriots in week 2 and after a bye comes the desperate for a win Jets, a possible resurgent Chiefs team (2 straight wins), the World Champion Packers, and a motivated team from Oakland. This is their season!! If they come through this crucible with a winning record, they learned how to win and have moxie. If they lose the majority of these four it’s the same underachieving Chargers of the not so distant past.
Which brings us to the heartland in Kansas City, Missouri. Now we here had picked this team to be a darkhorse for the Super Bowl and this team was knocked flat with an 0-3 start. Face it the first two were against frightfully strong teams in the 4-1 Buffalo Bills and the 5-0 Detroit Lions. Despite that they have picked themselves up by their bootstraps and returned to their strength which is running the football. Last week’s 28-24 win over the Colts was defining for it gave the team a boost in confidence going into their bye week. If they come out and beat the Raiders in two weeks it would put their record at 3-3 and ahead of the Raiders in the standings. The Chiefs have been running the ball with a committee of Thomas Jones (166 yards), Dexter McCluster (172 yards), and Jackie Battle (156 yards) with some success yet haven’t rushed for 1 touchdown yet. On defense it’s time for Glenn Dorsey to make some plays and help out Tamba Hali who has 4 sacks. Dorsey has yet to register a sack, forced fumble, knocked down pass or anything. First round draft pick needs to produce more.
John Fox you picked a good time to put in Tim Tebow now leave him in the rest of the year. He nearly rallied you back to a win vs. San Diego and you need to ride the coat tails of the spirit brought by he and a rejuvenated Willis McGahee and see what you have. In reality there should be 6 more wins at least with Tebow playing. Had you waited another week, you may have lost the season and your fanbase. Good luck the rest of the way.