AFC West Preview – Anthony Zaragoza @ZaragozaAnthony
What We Learned From Last Week:
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers loss this past weekend had more to do with how good the Los Angeles Rams are versus how the Chargers played. Because realistically, the Chargers were pretty good. Philip Rivers was not his outstanding self but still threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Williams (4 rec,81 yards, 2 TDs) and Melvin Gordon (16.4 pts in PPR) had solid games against this tough Rams defense. But a costly fumble by Keenan Allen and some mishaps on defense proved to be the difference in this game. The Chargers will not face a better defense this season, so expect the team to rebound next week.
For the third straight week, the Oakland Raiders gave up a halftime lead and lose a heartbreak to the undefeated Miami Dolphins, 28-20. But it wasn’t all bad for the Raiders last weekend in Miami.Jordy Nelson finally made his presence felt this season by catching 6 passes for 173 yards and one touchdown. Beast mode, Marshawn Lynch, produced another solid game for the silver and black, scoring 17.6 points in PPR formats.
Unfortunately, for the second time in three weeks, Amari Cooper disappointed his fantasy owners. After his 10 catch performance in week 2, Cooper followed it up with a two catch, 17-yard clunker. Moving forward, be cautious when you start Cooper. This Raiders team keeps finding ways to lose games late.
After having some halftime magic against the Raiders in week 2, the Denver Broncos failed to carry over that mojo versus the Baltimore Ravens, losing 27-14 last weekend. Case Keenum was out of whack and failed to orchestrate any scoring drives after the first quarter. After Phillip Lindsay did his best impression of Mike Tyson (ejected in the second quarter for fighting), Royce Freeman owners finally reaped the benefit of drafting the former Oregon star (53 yards, 1 TD). This could be the game that gets Freeman going. Emmanuel Sanders continues to produce for the Broncos, by receiving (5rec, 38 yards) or rushing (35 yards, 1 TD), in this game.
Kansas City Chiefs
Two words describe the Kansas City Chiefs right now, red hot. And that starts with their gun-slinging quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes threw for three more touchdowns in the Chiefs 38-27 victory against the San Francisco 49ers. The former Texas Tech QB now has the NFL record for the most touchdown passes (13) through the first three weeks of a season. Mahomes continues to lead the Chiefs as the odds-on favorite to reach the Super Bowl from the AFC.
If you could give someone the fantasy MVP after three weeks, Mahomes would be a worthy candidate. And because of how well Mahomes is playing, the rest of the skill players are reaping the benefit. Travis Kelce had his second straight 100-yard game (114) and Sammy Watkins, the often injured and overhyped wide receiver, caught his first TD of the season. This team is rolling!
What to Watch For:
Can anyone slow down Patrick Mahomes? As mentioned above, Mahomes is on a historic run right now. After three weeks, Mahomes has passed for 896 yards, thrown 13 TD’s and has a 66.7% completion percentage. The biggest takeaway from his play so far is his ability to get the ball out of his hands fast and allow his playmakers to do their thing in the open space. Tyreek Hill, Kelce and Watkins all have at least 14 receptions through three weeks and are averaging a minimum of 12.6 yards per reception.
The Chiefs travel to Denver for a prime-time game week 4, where the Broncos defense comes alive for the Mile High faithful. This will be Mahomes first big test defensively since he hasn’t played a defense this talented all season. Look for Mahomes to struggle some verses this pass rush, led by Von Miller. There is no way this quarterback can keep up with this amazing pace, so this Monday Night contest in Denver smells like a trap game for Mahomes.
Who Brings the Boom:
Philip Rivers: After watching what Mahomes did to this 49ers defense in week 3, there is no telling what Philip Rivers is going to do to them this Sunday. And to make matters worse for the 49ers, they will be without their best corner, Richard Sherman, in this game. Rivers is going to have a field day with all of his weapons. 300 yards passing and three touchdowns seems like a safe bet for the 15-year veteran.
The only concern for Rivers this weekend will be if the game is out of hand early and the Chargers elect to pound the ball with Melvin Gordon. Start Rivers with confidence.
Who Drops the Ball:
Derek Carr: Going with our quarterback theme for this AFC West preview, Derek Carr has a bad matchup this weekend in Oakland. It sounds weird to say this but the red-hot Cleveland Browns come into town playing some good football. A big reason for that is the play of their defense. Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams has these guys causing havoc and playing fast.
The Browns have created a league-leading 11 turnovers so far this season and are allowing the 11th fewest points after three games. Carr has been careless with the ball in 2018, throwing five interceptions already. So if you have Carr in your starting lineup, look to replace him with someone on the waiver wire. Andy Dalton, Ryan Tannehill and even Joe Flacco had better matchups this week.
Cleveland Browns 20, Oakland Raiders 13
Denver Broncos 24, Kansas City Chiefs 17
Los Angeles Chargers 28, San Francisco 49ers 14