The first week of the NFL season was one nearly everyone in the AFC West would like to forget, except for the Las Vegas Raiders, who pulled out a surprising road win over the Denver Broncos. One thing that all four franchises can be happy with is that all were involved in competitive games.
There is also no reason to overreact to a poor Week 1. One thing that each team will want to try and focus on is figuring out how to close out close games. As the season goes on, teams in the AFC West will feel the pressure to keep up and try to stay in the AFC playoff chase.
|L, 17-16 vs. Las Vegas
|Kansas City Chiefs
|L, 21-20 vs. Detroit
|Las Vegas Raiders
|W, 17-16 at Denver
|Los Angeles Chargers
|L, 36-34 vs. Miami
Kansas City Has Rocky Start to Title Defense
The Chiefs’ offense struggled to move the ball against the Lions in Week 1. Much of the problem came down to receivers not holding onto the ball. Kansas City had eight drops that hurt much of the team’s momentum.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was able to keep the team moving for stretches of the game. Mahomes threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns. He did catch some bad luck as a pass that was tipped in the air was run back for a touchdown by a Detroit Lions’ defensive back. Kansas City’s leading receiver was Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who caught two passes for 48 yards. No Chiefs’ receiver caught more than four passes.
Chiefs Await Kelce’s Return
Kansas City was missing a big part of its passing attack in Week 1. Tight end Travis Kelce was ruled out late in the week before Kansas City’s loss to Detroit. A report from Jay Glazer indicated that the Chiefs were worried that Kelce was going to be out for the season.
While Kelce’s status for Week 2 is still uncertain, he is training with the team at the facility and is expected to try and play if all things go well. Kansas City has finished with more than 1,000 receiving yards in seven straight seasons. Kelce caught 12 touchdown passes last season.
Garoppolo at Home with Former Coach
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has always been associated with winning during his career. During his nine seasons, Garoppolo has compiled a 41-17 record under center. He was able to kick off his first win with Las Vegas in style.
Garoppolo completed 76.9 percent of his passes, threw for two touchdowns, and wasn’t sacked. With 6 minutes 37 seconds remaining in the Raiders’ win over the Broncos, he threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers. Garoppolo came over to Las Vegas in the offseason after he fell out of favor in San Francisco before last season.
Injury issues limited Garoppolo’s effectiveness with the 49ers. He only started 15 or more games in a season twice in six seasons. Las Vegas is coached by Josh McDaniel, who worked with Garoppolo when they were in New England. The Raiders have now won seven straight against Denver.
Chargers Can’t Figure Out How to Close Games
The Los Angeles Chargers saw their issues from last season creep up. Twice in the fourth quarter, the Chargers surged to a small lead at home against Miami. Both times, Los Angeles saw things quickly fall apart. The Chargers took a 34-30 lead over Miami with 3:53 remaining following a field goal by Cameron Dicker.
Miami found a way to respond quickly following Dicker’s kick. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailo led a long touchdown drive that lasted a little over two minutes. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass, a four-yard strike to Tyreek Hill, with 1:45 remaining in the game. For Los Angeles fans still hurting from a blown lead in the playoffs against Jacksonville last season, it was a difficult pill to swallow.
The Chargers saw a 27-point lead fall away during the loss to the Jaguars. Los Angeles didn’t make many splashy moves in the offseason and may regret that now.
Sean Payton’s Debut Comes Up Short
Payton was brought in to Denver to try and jumpstart Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson. The duo’s first game together did see a more efficient Wilson performance. But Denver still didn’t produce a lot of points.
Wilson finished with 177 yards passing, completing 27 of his 34 attempts. He also threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions. Wilson was sacked twice. He had the worst season of his career last season. He only passed for 16 touchdown passes and tossed 11 interceptions. Wilson had the lowest quarterback rating of his career at 84.4.
He has finished with double-figure interceptions in two of the past four seasons. Wilson has seen his total touchdowns decline in each season since 2020.
Robot Fans Enjoy Sofi Stadium
The Dolphins and Chargers game featured AI robots in the stands cheering on the Chargers. The robots that were spotted in the stands will be part of an upcoming science fiction movie, “The Creator.” Like many robot movies, this one will pit humans against an AI force that is threatening to take over humanity.
Jacobs Has Tough First Outing
Raiders running back Josh Jacobs spent much of the offseason locked into a contract battle and arguing about the value of running backs. Las Vegas and Jacobs had a hard time establishing the running game. Jacobs carried the ball 19 times and only gained 48 yards. Jacobs’ longest carry in the game was seven yards.
He did make a few plays in the passing game, hauling in two passes for 23 yards. Las Vegas will be encouraged to grab a season opening win after having a hard time winning many games last season.