Quarter-Season report card. Part 3: The West!

Quarter-Season report card. Part 3: The West!
Reading Time: 7 minutes.

We’ve hit the North and the South now it’s time to head out West. The Ninety-Nine Yards team take a look at how the teams from the AFC and NFC West are performing so far. The NFC West is the only division without a team with a losing record and looks like the strongest division in the league. And the AFC West has the Chiefs…

Make sure you check out our AFC/NFC North and South reviews to see how they’re doing too.

http://ninetynineyards.com/2020/10/08/quarter-season-report-card-part-1-the-north/

http://ninetynineyards.com/2020/10/08/quarter-season-report-card-part-2-the-south/

Kansas City Chiefs 4-0 B+

It’s been an interesting first quarter for the Chiefs. They’ve dominated in weeks one and three against the Texans and –arguably their biggest rival for the top seed in the AFC – the Baltimore Ravens on the road. On the other hand they went to overtime against the Chargers led by rookie Justin Herbert and Bryan Hoyer/Jarrett Stidham’s Patriots ran the Chiefs close before they pulled away at the end. Ultimately though the Chiefs are 4-0 and have yet to reach their full potential.

With Clyde Edwards-Helaire added, opposing offences have a job on their hands and it feels as though the opposing offence has to score on every drive. What’s more the defence is stepping up regularly. Teams will be researching how the Chargers and Patriots succeed but the Chiefs have a way to go. In a choice between the Chiefs or the field to retain the Lombardi, I’m taking Andy Reid’s men. -Adam Barton

Las Vegas Raiders 2-2 C+

It started so well for the Raiders in their new Sin City home; They opened up the impressive new Allegiant Stadium with a win against the Saints in week to starting 2-0. The party soon stopped as they lost the following two and now sit at 2-2.

Now in his 3rd year as head coach Jon Gruden has the offence functioning as he’d like, methodically moving the ball down the field. Sophmore feature back Josh Jacobs is still pushing the rock on the ground, his 300 yards so far this year is 7th in the league. But his 3.6 yards/attempt is down significantly on the 4.8 he managed last year. Tight End Darren Waller continues to lead the raiders in targets, receptions and yards as in 2019.

The Raiders started their tenure in Vegas with a win against the Saints. Image from reviewjournal.com

Vegas’ defence is what’s holding them back. Despite hopes of a step forward, what we’ve seen so far suggests their defence is regressing. In 3 out of their 4 games they’ve allowed 30 points or more. They only allowed 30 points or more 5 times through the whole of the 2019 season. If the Raiders want to make the post season, they’ll need to tighten up their defence. -Bryan Dickie

LA Chargers 1-3 B-

The Chargers may be 1-3 but there is hope. If not for this season, then for the future. After stumbling to a last second win against the Bengals, avoiding overtime thanks to a missed chip shot, the Chargers came the closest team to beat the Chiefs since last November. That was followed by a disappointing loss to the Panthers and then a battle with the Bucs where Justin Herbert went toe to toe with Tom Brady.

The rookie QB has shown flashes of excellence with some beautiful throws, aggressive play and at least 290 yards in each of his three starts but is making the inevitable error with three picks and two fumbles. Losing Austin Ekeler is a big blow for the offence with a lack of depth behind him. The Chargers are playing tight though, all four of their games have been one score games. Regardless of record, this season is a success if LA has found the long term replacement for Phil Rivers. – Adam Barton

Denver Broncos 1-3 C+

Where to start with the Broncos? Three starting QBs and four different top receivers. One win but it was a struggle past the lowly Jets, eventually winning 37-28. Denver played Tennessee and Pittsburgh close, particularly impressive given they relied on Jeff Driskel at QB for the majority of the game. Brett Rypien looked strong but then faded with some horror throws in his outing. The key for the Broncos is knowing where they are at with Drew Lock by the end of the year, which will not be helped by injury. The Broncos have really caught the injury bug with six starters on IR, plus Phillip Lindsay injured, making them one of the most talent-poor teams in the NFL currently.

The defence had been pretty tame until the Jets game where they gained six sacks and 10 QB hits. It would hardly be a surprise to see the Broncos be 2-5 at their bye with games against the Patriots and the Chiefs before then. The litmus test of where they stand will be their game against the Dolphins. A win will be crucial for confidence and to show progression, a key target for the second year of head coach Vic Fangio’s spell. -Adam Barton

Seattle Seahawks 4-0 A-

It looks like Russel Wilson has been let loose on the Seahawks offence this season. The man is on a mission to dominate everyone in his Path and he’s doing a pretty good job. At 4-0 and in control of the NFC west, the Hawks are looking nasty offensively. Russ has thrown for 1285 yards (around 75% of the offence), has 103 completions on 137 attempts (75.1%) and a massive 16 TDs and only 2 picks. DK Metcalf and Tyler lockett look like a legit duo on the outside and Greg Olsen seems to be a great relief valve of the MVP candidate so far. Despite these mindblowing stats from Russ, Seattle do have some issue. The run game has been almost non-existant. Chris Carson is their top rusher with just 237 yards through 4 weeks and total rushing yards sit at just 453 yards on 103 attempts, meaning Wilson hasn’t had much choice but to air it out.

Russell Wilson leads the league with 16 TDs and 75.2% completion rate. Image from thenewstribune.com

The defense also hasn’t given Russ a great deal of help so far. They’ve struggled to get teams off the field, with teams converting 51% of 3rd downs so far. They’ve also given up nearly 2000 yards total offense. They are winning the turnover battle, with 6 picks and a turnover ratio of +5.

If Wilson wasn’t the front runner in the MVP race, the seahawks season may look different, but he is, and therefore they deserve an A-. -Jamie Edwards

LA Rams 3-1 B+

Sitting at 3-1 and second in the NFC west, the Rams are looking much stronger than their previous Superbowl hangover season, with their only narrow loss coming to a dominant looking Bills team. Even with the loss of Todd Gurley, their run game remains the dominant feature of their offence, hidden behind those McVay style shifts and motions that made him the leagues sweetheart 2 seasons ago. They have rushed on over 50% of their plays, averaging 4.2 yards a carry and 569 total yards. Goff has looked more comfortable in the pass game as well, completing 88/122, 1063 yards for 6 TDs and just 2 INTs through 4 weeks. The defense has done its bit as well, with 12 sacks, 4 picks so far and just 9 TDs so far this season. They have also been solid on 3rd downs, sending out the punt team 60% of the time. I mean defense is always easier when you’ve got a human wrecking ball on your D-line, right?

With the 49ers missing so many huge names to injury and the Cardinals looking unable to get any kind of consistency, it looks like a 2 horse race in the NFC west and the Rams appear to be up for the fight this year and based of their production and play so far, B+ seems about right. -Jamie Edwards

San Francisco 49ers 2-2 C+

I think its tough to put a grade on a team who currently have 40% of the salary cap sat on the IR. They have used 3 QBs in 4 games snd have had George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Raheem Mostert out for a majority of the season so far, as well as losing Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and a host of DBs out on the defensive side. But the NFL is a next man up league and unfortunately for the Niners, their division doesn’t really allow second string guys to shine. The one game they had with a full unit against the Cardinals was a loss in which they looked average at best. They made light work of two extremely weak New York teams and then lost a tight game to the Eagles, who also haven’t looked great. They put up some good total yards with 1562, 1048 yards coming in the air. The Defense has

looked pretty good so far, despite the injuries, containing opponents to just 1179 yards of offence with 3 picks and 13 sacks.

For them to be 2-2 and still in the hunt in the NFC West is a combination of schedule luck, great coaching and decent enough back ups but its hard to give a solid grade, so a C+ feels fair. – Jamie Edwards

Arizona Cardinals 2-2 B-

The Cardinals had a great start to the season. They took down the defending conference champions and divisional rival in week one before improving to 2-0 against Washington. Kyler Murray crept into the extremely early MVP conversation and DeAndre Hopkins looked like… well… DeAndre Hopkins.

Acquisition DeAndre Hopkins leads the league in receptions, with 39. Making an instant impact with his new team, the Cardinals. Image from skysports.com

But they regressed in weeks three and four. Back-to-back losses against the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers have damaged Arizona’s authenticity and now they have an uphill battle ahead of them in an extremely strong NFC West. They show flashes of being contenders but need to improve on their consistency if they want to compete later in the year. -Owen Widdowson

North, South, West… Just the East remains. We’ll be reviewing the AFC/NFC East tomorrow, keep your eyes peeled!

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