The Broncos are now 0-4 and are facing a tough divisional opponent on the road in Week 5. The schedule does not do them any favors going forward, as the Broncos chances of making the playoffs now are slim and none.
The AFC West is looking better than it was a week ago. The Chiefs are still undefeated as expected, but wins by both the Chargers and Raiders last week have created in more separation from the winless Broncos.
Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.
Kansas City Chiefs
This explosive offense is almost ready to get their best weapon back in action. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill is actually practicing this week. Hill has been out of action since he injured his shoulder in the season opener for the Chiefs.
The people I talk to around that team insist that they won’t rush Hill back into action. They want to see how his shoulder responds to practicing and more work. It’s unlikely that he makes his return to the lineup on Sunday night in Week 5 against the Colts.
However, if Hill progresses with no setbacks he could be ready for Week 6. Most likely when the Broncos face the Chiefs in Week 7, Hill will be back at full strength. That’s good news for the Chiefs, but bad news for the Broncos who need to catch a break at some point this year – and especially when they play a high-caliber offense like the Chiefs.
Los Angeles Chargers
We’ve spent most of this season waiting for running back Melvin Gordon to return from his holdout. That ended last week, and Gordon was actually active for the game against the Dolphins in Week 4. He didn’t touch the ball last week, but that should change this week against the Broncos.
On Wednesday, I asked Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is they were preparing for a full dose of Gordon in Week 5.
“I think because of him not being there very long and because of (Austin) Ekeler’s production, it probably makes sense for them to split it, but that’s up to those guys,” Fangio said.
Fangio is correct. The Chargers are likely to still use Ekeler as their lead back this week. The Eaton, Colo. (and Western State) product is dangerous as a runner or receiver out of the backfield. He’s not a big back, but Ekeler is tough to bring down because of his quickness and low center of gravity. Gordon has a ton of speed and can make a “house call” anytime he touches the ball.
After getting trounced on the ground by the Jaguars last week, opponents are going to run early and often against the Broncos defense. They have to stand strong and stuff the run in order to win the time of possession and put their team in the best position to actually win a game.
The NFL is trying to become an international game, and that’s why we’ve seen several games played in London, England over the last few seasons. This week, the Raiders have traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to face the Bears in London.
They travel to a different country quite banged up at a few key positions on offense. Top wide receiver Tyrell Williams has been out or limited in practice this week due to a foot injury. Williams has scored four touchdowns in four games this season, but his numbers have not come close to what he compiled against the Broncos (6-105-1) in Week 1.
In this tough matchup against a fierce Bears defense, the Raiders are also entering the game with their starting running back Josh Jacobs banged up with an elbow injury. Jacobs was fighting the flu and suffered some weight loss last week, and now he’s got an elbow problem. The rookie has looked good as a runner and the Raiders have promised to use him more as a receiver out of the backfield. That came to fruition last week in their win over the Colts as Jacobs snared two passes for 29 yards. In the previous three games, Jacobs only had one catch – and that came against Denver.
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- Broncos-Chiefs: The good, the bad and the ugly from Thursday
- Cheers and Jeers: For Elway and the Broncos, it’s time
- Around the AFC West: The Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders forge ahead
- 60 Seconds with Cecil: Broncos Country, this is rock bottom