AFC West stock watch: Patrick Mahomes up, Chargers down

AFC West

The Kansas City Chiefs earned a win and got a huge break with Patrick Mahomes, while the Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos appear finished.

Twists and turns aplenty in the AFC West again in Week 7.

The week started with the biggest storyline of the NFL weekend when Kansas City’s league MVP Patrick Mahomes suffered a dislocated kneecap Thursday night at Denver.

Despite that major blow, the Chiefs went on to easily beat the Broncos. For the third time in seven weeks, the Chiefs were the only winner in the division this week. Sunday, the Oakland Raiders’ resurgence took a detour in a blowout loss at Green Bay and the Chargers, well, they Chargered in the most special of ways, continuing this grotesque season.

After mostly the disappointing AFC West weekend, Oakland cornerback Gareon Conley and Denver receiver Emmanuel Sanders were shipped out to Houston and San Francisco, respectively, a week before the trade deadline.

Let’s look at the risers and fallers in the division heading into Week 8:


Chiefs’ control of division: If the Chiefs end up surviving the Mahomes’ injury and win the AFC West again, Week 7 may be remembered as the turning point. After starting the season 4-0, the Chiefs stumbled with back-to-back home losses. They were on the brink when Mahomes went down, but the team rallied and destroyed Denver, 30-6. They could have fell into second place Thursday night. Now, they a big lead in the division race again.

Mahomes’ luck: When Mahomes got hurt on the quarterback sneak and the cart came out for him, Chiefs fans around the country panicked. Any hopes of a Super Bowl run this year seemed to be wiped out in an instant. Yet, the injury ended up being relatively minor and he could be back in a few weeks. That is the definition of best-case scenario in this instance.

Chiefs’ defense: This group was the heroes of the Mahomes’ injury night. The defense stepped up and had nine sacks in the victory over Denver. It was by far, the best performance the season by the unit that played a huge role in the two consecutive losses. This unit is going to have to channel that performance and continue to pick up the slack with Mahomes out.


Everything Chargers: I’ve covered the Chargers for the past 11 years. The theme during that time has been an incredible run of bad injury luck and devastating last-second defeats. This year has been typical, but Sunday, a game when the Chargers lost guard Forrest Lamp for the season, they lost in such horrible fashion, it’s hard for even the Chargers to deal with. In the final moments at Tennessee, the Chargers had two touchdowns reversed by official calls (the first one was very iffy) and then lost the game on a fumble at the goal line. The Chargers are now 2-5 and their 12-4 season in 2018 is a distant memory.

Raiders’ defense: The Oakland defense made some big plays in back-too-back wins at Indianapolis and over the Chicago Bears in London in its two previous games. Yet, Sunday, the Raiders were gutted by Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. He threw for five touchdowns and had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. The Raiders had no chance against Rodgers. It was only Oakland’s second game of the season against above average quarterback. Like Rodgers, Mahomes smoked Oakland’s pass defense in Week 2. Now, on tap is DeShaun Watson in Houston. If the Raiders don’t improve their pass defense and pass-rush, they will be in danger of falling under .500 again.

Broncos’ inability to stay relevant: The Broncos, who lost two winnable games, when they started 0-4. Then, they won two games in a row and there was some hope Denver could stay alive in a weak AFC playoff race. Then, the Broncos fell flat against the Chiefs. That helped Denver make the decision to trade Sanders. Don’t be surprised if cornerback Chris Harris, defensive lineman Derek Wolfe and, perhaps, others get shipped out of the Rockies before next Tuesday’s trade deadline as well.

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