(CBS Denver) — The Kansas City Chiefs may not run away with the AFC West again this season after all. The Chiefs lost to the Las Vegas Raiders two weeks ago for their first loss of the season. And this week they draw a hot Denver Broncos team looking to continue their winning ways. The Raiders, meanwhile, host Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
CBS Denver sports anchor Michael Spencer looks at matchups in the AFC West.
All times listed are Eastern.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos, Sunday, October 25 @ 4:25 (CBS)
The Broncos should be happy with their progress, beating the New York Jets, 37-28, for their first win of the season and following that up by taking down the New England Patriots, 18-12. “It’s a team that seems like it has a lot of momentum,” says Spencer. “Didn’t get into the end zone in that victory against the Patriots. But I think we saw a lot of good things from Drew Lock. We saw a lot of good things from Phillip Lindsay. This offense is starting to click. And I thought the defense was really, really dominant in that win over the Patriots. They forced three turnovers, got to Cam Newton four times.”
But let’s add a little perspective to those two wins. The first came against a Jets teams that is easily the worst in the NFL. And the Broncos allowed the most points the Jets have scored all season. The second win came over the Patriots, admittedly a much more formidable opponent. Due to COVID-19 issues, that matchup was delayed from Week 5 to Week 6. And in that time, the Patriots were allowed to practice just once. With ample chance to prepare, Bill Belichick might have ensure a different result.
While a win is a win, the Chiefs, 5-1, present a much more formidable opponent. “The Chiefs have won nine straight games over the Broncos,” Spencer points out. “Justin Simmons, who was drafted back in 2016, has never beaten the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s how bad it has been. Peyton Manning was the starting quarterback the last time the Broncos beat the Chiefs.”
Beating the Chiefs this week will require more than just field goals. Drew Lock will have to do better than 10-24 passing for 189 yards. And the offense will have a find the end zone… multiple times. On the other side of the ball, the Broncos defense will need to harass Patrick Mahomes like they did Cam Newton. And all that may still not be enough.
“I think it’s a close game,” says Spencer. “I think that the weather is going to play a factor. It’s supposed to be cold, maybe some snow on Sunday afternoon here in Denver. But I just can’t pick the Broncos until they actually beat the Chiefs. So give me Kansas City.”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, October 25 @ 8:20 (NBC)
The Raiders are coming off a bye week after handing the Chiefs their first loss in the week prior. Derek Carr continues to be one of the NFL’s most efficient passers, completing over 73 percent of his passes so far, with eight touchdowns against no interceptions. He’ll have his work cut out for him against a Bucs defense that shut down Aaron Rodgers last week.
“Tampa… has a top defense in the NFL,” says Spencer. “I was really impressed with what they did last week against Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers with that offense.” The Bucs held Rodgers to just 160 yards on 16-35 passing, while picking him off twice. They held the Packers scoreless for the final three quarters of the game.
On the season, they’ve collected 22 sacks and eight interceptions, both near the top of the NFL. They’re strong against the run and the pass.
In this battle of future Hall of Famers, Tom Brady led Tampa to a 38-10 win, tossing two TDs in the process. “It feel’s like Tampa’s offense and Tom Brady are really starting to gel,” says Spencer. “They’ve averaged 31 points per game over their last three outings, and that includes their Thursday night debacle against the Bears, where I think they really, really underperformed. I think that was a big wake-up call for them.”
The Raiders have shown they can beat good teams, or at least play them tough. But can they do it against a Bucs team that is finding its stride? Spencer doesn’t think so. “I like the Bucs to go into Vegas and get a win over the Raiders,” he says.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, October 25 @ 4:25 (CBS)
The Chargers sit in the AFC West cellar at 1-4, having lost four straight. Coming off a bye week, they’re poised to find the win column again. Each of those losses came by a touchdown or less against a team that is now at least .500.
“They were banged up,” notes Spencer. “Everybody’s banged up, right? But they especially were banged up. I think they’re going to get some really, really good juice off of that bye week. They’ve lost four straight games, but they’ve been in all of those four games. Every single one of those four games. Two of those actually went to overtime, including their most recent loss against the Saints.”
Justin Herbert took over as Chargers quarterback after Week 1. He’s since averaged close to 300 yards passing per game, throwing nine touchdowns and only three interceptions.
The Jaguars, at 1-5, seem to headed in the opposite direction. They’ve lost five straight to some very beatable teams and seem on the verge of a quarterback change. According to Spencer, “they’re talking already about tanking for Trevor Lawrence, whether or not Gardner Minshew might be pulled in the middle of the game. I think they’ve got some issues down there.”
“I like the Chargers in this one,” says Spencer. “I like what Justin Herbert is doing. I also like him to pick up his first win of the season coming up this week.”