San Diego Chargers (3-5) at Houston Texans (3-4)
Welcome to the AFC, where situations can change in an instant.
For evidence, consider the cases of San Diego and Houston. Coming into last Sunday, the Chargers appeared to be dead men walking at 2-5 and falling steadily behind divisional surprises Kansas City and Oakland. But by the end of Sunday, things were decidedly rosier for the Bolts. Thanks to a crucial 33-25 win over Tennessee, the Chargers kept pace in the AFC West and now find themselves just two games out of first place.
The Texans, meanwhile, saw things go in the opposite direction. Coming into their game against Indy on Monday Night Football, the Texans were tied for second in the AFC South and looking to take sole position of top spot in the division. But after suffering a 30-17 whipping at the hands of the Colts, the Texans not only found themselves behind the Colts and Titans — they also had the Jacksonville Jaguars creeping in their rear-view. Yes, with a 35-17 win over Dallas the Jags put themselves back in the AFC South picture and are now just a half game back of Houston. Weird, wild times.
While we’ve come to expect the unexpected from both of these clubs this season, there is one thing we can definitely count on this Sunday at Reliant Stadium — offense. And lots of it. The Chargers boast the top-rated overall offense in the league (426.9 yards per game) while Houston comes in at No. 7 with 367 yards per. The probability of points is increased by the porous Texans defense — ranked 32nd in the league, the Texans are allowing over 400 yards per game — and Chargers QB Philip Rivers, who has been outstanding this year.
Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) at Oakland Raiders (4-4)
Keeping with the “I can’t believe this is happening” theme — who would’ve thought that, in Week 9, the Chargers and Raiders would be playing for top spot in the AFC West? This Sunday, a classic divisional rivalry will be renewed with tons to play for: The Raiders look to maintain an incredible streak of dominance that has seen them outscore opponents 92-17 (Seattle and Denver) in consecutive weeks while the Chiefs look to bring some of their home-field magic (they’re undefeated at Arrowhead this season) to the Black Hole.
While both teams boast outstanding running games, this one could very well be decided at the QB position. Kansas City’s Matt Cassel has been efficient — not good, certainly not great, but efficient — in leading the Chiefs to their 5-2 record, but he hasn’t had to go out and win them any games. Raiders QB Jason Campbell, meanwhile, has responded to an early-season benching and has sparked the Raider offense in a major way. Over the last two weeks, Campbell has completed 27 of 47 passes for 514 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 123.9 passer rating.