Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) prepares to throw in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers
Half the AFC West played on Sunday. The other half are the final two teams to play on opening weekend. The Chiefs were among the early games today and the Broncos played on Sunday Night football. And the results of both games give us the temporary state of the AFC West.
For the Chiefs, the outlook is not great. While Matt Cassel had a decent game, the Chiefs defense underperformed for what was expected coming in. They were without two of their best players in Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers which undoubtedly contributed to their poor performance.
Hali was suspended for the Chiefs opener and will return next week. Flowers was limited in practice with a heel injury in the week leading up to the game. He was listed as questionable and could return as early as week two as well.
With the lack of pass rush of Hali and pass defense from Flowers, the Falcons took it to the Chiefs, racking up 41 points. This is somewhat of good news for the Chiefs who figure to improve drastically when both of those players return.
Along with Manning, the Broncos defense looked very stout. New addition Tracy Porter finished the game with two passes defended and an interception returned for a touchdown. With he and Champ Bailey on both sides of the field, passing on them will be tough.
The Broncos also finished the game with three straight sacks. The first two came from Von Miller.
Ben Roethlisberger lined up at the 20-yard line down by six points with 3:00 remaining. But five plays later the Steelers were down by two scores and the Broncos were kneeling the clock out.
Whomever wins tomorrow will share the top spot with the Broncos and whomever loses will share the bottom spot with the Chiefs. How the game plays out will tell us most deserving of which spot.