Week 15 of the NFL season came and went, and it was rather forgettable for the AFC West.
The Kansas City Chiefs won a snow game against AFC West foe Denver. The Broncos continue to struggle offensively on the road, as they scored just three points. The snow game is probably the coolest thing that happened in the division.
The Los Angeles Chargers found a new, rather spectacular way to lose that at least didn’t have fans on the edge of their seats at the end.
And the Oakland Raiders, of course, got bit by the officiating bug and poor game management to end their tenure in the Bay Area.
The awards seem superfluous this week when the entirety of the division, save for Kansas City, is mired in mediocrity. And Kansas City somehow became one of the most boring teams in the league after last year being the most exciting.
I’d rather throw my computer out the window and not think about this division for a while. But there were at least a few performances that deserve to be talked about.
With all that said, here are the AFC West Week 15 superlatives:
Wide Receiver of the week
Keenan Allen is just so smooth. Despite an awful offensive effort by the team in all blue, Allen showed up big once again. Nine catches and 99 yards on just 10 targets. He did it against a defense that admittedly has struggled a bit in pass coverage this season.
But it’s more about how he does it. He doesn’t leap over everyone the way Mike Williams does, and did twice successfully in this game. He isn’t faster than everyone else. He’s smart and crafty and has excellent hands.
If Allen drops a pass, the world just saw a rare event.
Allen also garnered a Pro Bowl selection on Tuesday, making this a good week for a player on a team going nowhere fast.
Rookie of the week
It was really tempting to not include this award this week. But this isn’t about numbers, as much as I value empirical data. In reality, 89 yards on 24 carries isn’t great. This is about Josh Jacobs’ heart.
Not that Raiders and football fans alike didn’t know Jacobs is the proverbial warrior, who loves football and wants nothing more than to be a key contributor to a winning team, but the fact he carried the ball 24 times and got pounded that often, is still special.
He did add two catches for 20 yards, something the Raiders will want to see more of in 2020. It sounds as if Jacobs’ season may now be done. But what a year it was.
While he may not win Offensive Rookie of the Year, he will certainly get plenty of votes. And he is more than deserving of the Week 15 AFC West Rookie of the week.
SEVEN, COUNT EM, SEVEN TURNOVERS!
The Chargers franchise, though clearly cursed, has been relatively stable since it made LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees its first two picks in the 2000 NFL Draft. After all, they hadn’t come near this many turnovers since 1998, when they had seven.
The Minnesota Vikings deserve some credit. The home fans, I mean traveling Vikings fans, probably deserve a literal ounce of credit. But mostly, credit goes to the Chargers for finding a new, somehow more, and at the same time less, infuriating way to lose a game.
More because I’m 99 percent certain most Division-1 college teams wouldn’t turn the ball over seven times in the hypothetical situation where they played a real game against the Vikings. They might turn it over six, and lose substantially worse than the 39-10 final the Chargers lost by, but there’s no way they turn it over seven times.
Even if I’m way off base on that, the point is an NFL team should never turn the ball over seven times in a game. Yes, fumbles, and especially fumble recoveries, are random. Yes, interceptions often take place on fluky plays.
But not all seven of the Chargers’ turnovers can be accounted for with bad luck. At some point, runners have to put “four points of pressure” on the ball and quarterbacks have to not throw the ball to the other team.
At least the 18 Chargers fans in attendance could leave early to avoid LA traffic and get some Christmas shopping done on the beach.
Player of the week
Travis Kelce, with honorable mention to the Raiders’ Darren Waller. Waller was also named as a Pro Bowl alternate on Tuesday—meaning he’ll likely get the nod since the two officially placed on the roster are Kelce, and the Baltimore Ravens’ Mark Andrews. One of those two teams figures to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Waller caught eight passes for 122 yards on 10 targets. It’s not the Michael Thomas out of this world lunacy, but it’s really good nonetheless, especially for a tight end who has other considerations.
Travis Kelce was just a little better on Sunday, catching 11 passes for 142 yards on 13 targets...in the snow. He was a major reason Patrick Mahomes put up 340 yards on 27/34 passing.
As good as Denver’s secondary is, they couldn’t cover the blend of size and speed that Kelce brings. And Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons had a really good game in spite of that.
And for what it’s worth, the Chiefs’ safety tandem of Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill were also outstanding on Sunday.
Who won the week?
It’s been Kansas City, at least as honorable mention, every week since I started doing this. Despite being the only team who won a game in the division this week, I’m not even giving them that distinction.
Instead, it is the other three AFC West franchises. The Chargers and Broncos are currently in the top-10 of the NFL Draft order, and at this point are hoping they can sneak up a spot or two in the final two weeks.
The Raiders meanwhile, with their loss, and the Bears’ elimination from the NFC Playoff picture, continue to gain ground in the draft order, and are looking squarely at the possibility of holding two top-15 selections in a deep and talent-rich draft.
It’s less than ideal to be playing for draft order at the end of the season, but it is a thing. Just ask the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals, who play in the Blow For Joe (Burrow) Bowl this Sunday. That game, my friends, shall be glorious!