The first quarter of the NFL season is in the books, so it’s time to check on how the Raiders stack up against their AFC West competition. The order remains the same, but some of the grades have changed. The first set of grades from after Week 2 can be found here.
Kansas City Chiefs: 4-0
Good teams just know how to pull out wins, regardless of how well they’re playing. After coming out completely flat against Detroit, Kansas City pulled off a comeback win. It helps when you almost never turn the ball over, as the Chiefs have only turned the ball over once this season.
The scary thing is, Tyreek Hill may be back in the fold sooner than expected. He practiced for the first time since a Week 1 shoulder injury on Wednesday morning, and while his timetable remains in flux, he should be on the field sooner than later.
Key Stat: 3
That’s the number of NFL MVPs to repeat in back-to-back seasons. Patrick Mahomes is the clear favorite to win this season after four weeks, and would join legends Joe Montana, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning if he’s able to do so.
The Chiefs’ offensive DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) ranks No. 1 in the NFL at 34.6 percent above average, and they may only improve that mark once Hill and Damien Williams return.
With a relatively easy second quarter slate ahead, the Chiefs should be 7-0 heading into a fascinating matchup against the Packers in Week 8.
Indianapolis and Houston will likely both put up a fight, but neither mercurial squad poses a serious threat against the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Over the last 10 seasons, the Chiefs have allowed 28.8 points at home and 18.1 on the road, the best mark in the NFL. They likely have their eyes set on the No. 1 seed in the AFC already, and they’ll need it to contend with New England.
Oakland Raiders: 2-2
It’s hard to know what to make of this Raiders team after the season’s first quarter. They were absolutely thrashed by Minnesota, but managed to turn things around against a wounded Colts team. As of right now, the Raiders are in the thick of the early season playoff race, with only New England, Kansas City and Buffalo above .500 in the AFC.
Oakland ranks at No. 9 in rushing defense DVOA, but a lowly No. 27 in passing defense, as Lamarcus Joyner and Gareon Conley have disappointed thus far. On a higher note, the Raiders sit No. 9 in successful play rate on offense, per Sharp Football. Now, imagine if they had some legitimate receiving threats outside of Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller.
Key Stat: 47.4
Sitting at No. 88 out of 102 qualifying edge rushers on Pro Football Focus’ grading scale is none other than No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell. Yikes.
His best overall grade of the season was a 60.0 in Week 3, due to his ability to stuff the run. Many Silver and Black fans thought Ferrell was a reach, but felt that his ability to be a locker room leader would justify selecting him over Jacksonville’s Josh Allen. But you can’t change the locker room culture if you don’t play well. Ferrell is currently in concussion protocol and may not be available for Sunday against the Bears in London.
Second Quarter Slate: Vs. Bears, BYE, At Packers, At Texans
The Raiders received no favors from the NFL scheduling committee, as they left the Coliseum after Week 2 against the Chiefs and won’t come back until Nov. 3 when they host the Lions.
This treacherous slate may make or break the Raiders’ entire season, and it will start with a matchup against a Bears squad that may be missing their quarterback. Although, it doesn’t seem like the Raiders see a major difference between Chase Daniel and Mitch Trubisky.
After a Week 6 BYE, the Raiders will head to Lambeau before flying to Houston. If they manage to go 2-1 over this next stretch, or even 1-2, they can remain in the playoff picture by the halfway point.
Los Angeles Chargers: 2-2
The Chargers have been fully underwhelming overall. Yet, if a few breaks go their way, this team could be sitting at 4-0 right now. The injury bug continues to swarm around the Chargers, as Melvin Ingram pulled up lame with a hamstring injury last week.
However, the addition of the second best Melvin on their team (returning from one of the least successful holdouts I can recall) should bolster the offense. Despite the hype that Austin Ekeler has received in fantasy this year, he’s only averaged 3.8 yards per carry.
Key Stat: 10.8
With Tyrell Williams gone and Mike Williams fighting lingering back issues, the Chargers have relied on Keenan Allen more than ever. And he sure is producing. His average depth of target is 10.8, his highest mark since Sports Info Solutions began tracking data in 2015. Ditto for his 32.9 percent target share.
Allen is on pace to catch 136 passes for 1,808 yards and 12 scores, astronomical numbers that hammer home the fact that the Raiders either need Conley to step up, or to find a corner in the draft who can match up with Allen. It seems like he’s dominated in the division forever, but he’s only 27 years old and will be around a lot longer.
After easily defeating in Miami in a game that maybe 15 people actually watched, the Chargers could get rolling with a pair of home games against lesser opponents on deck. The Steelers found their footing against Cincinnati, but it doesn’t seem like Mason Rudolph can push the ball downfield consistently.
It’s hard to get a read on San Diego, errr, I mean LA, thus far this season. They could go 1-3 over this next stretch or 4-0, neither would be surprising.
Denver Broncos: 0-4
Since the sack became an official NFL statistic in 1982, no team had ever gone three straight games to open the season without a sack or turnover. The Broncos popped their sack cherry against Jacksonville with five on the day on Sunday, but they still remain without a turnover. Vic Fangio was supposed to bring his defensive wizardy to Denver, but the team has looked lost since opening at the Coliseum.
With Bradley Chubb out for the year with a torn ACL, the team has little hope left on the season. Average Joe Flacco isn’t leading them out of this 0-4 hole. The only thing standing in the way of the Broncos and a straight “F” grade is the fight they put up against the Bears and Jags.
Key Stat: 4.8 percent
Per Football Outsiders, the Broncos have a 4.8 percent chance to obtain the first overall pick this year. That Super Bowl win is starting to feel very distant.
The only teams ahead of Denver at this point are the Cardinals (5.1 percent), Redskins (7.3 percent), Bengals (14.6 percent), and Dolphins (a whopping 63.3 percent). It sounds to me like John Elway is going to get another chance to draft a tall, statuesque quarterback at the top if Justin Herbert is available. It’s hard to envision Flacco lasting in Denver past this season if the team indeed grabs a top 5 pick.
Second Quarter Slate: At Chargers, Vs. Titans, Vs. Chiefs, At Colts
The second quarter schedule doesn’t look promising for the Broncos. A home bout against the Titans looks winnable, but it surely won’t help their turnover margins, as Marcus Mariota is somehow the only starting quarterback without a turnover thus far this season.
Realistically, the Broncos could go 2-2 over this stretch, with wins over each of the AFC South foes. But even if they manage to notch a few wins, they’d still be sitting at a lowly 2-6 mark. If Denver is 1-7 or 0-8 at the trade deadline, would they consider dealing Von Miller?