1. Kansas City Chiefs: There is a lot of talk around the league that the Chiefs will be this year’s version of the 2009 Denver Broncos. That team, of course, started 6-0 before finishing 8-8. The Chiefs have lost back-to-back games (at Oakland and at Denver) and are now 5-4. They started 3-0 and led the AFC West for the first nine weeks of the season. They are now tied for first place with Oakland, which currently owns the tiebreaker. The Chiefs are not a lost cause, but if they want to make the playoffs, they must revert to their early-season form soon.
2. Kansas City run defense: The Chiefs were a top-10 team in the NFL against the run most of the season. Yet, they were taken advantage of against Denver in the Broncos’ 49-29 win on Sunday. The Broncos, who have the league's worst rushing game, had a season-high 154 yards on the ground. Being run over by Denver is not a good thing. Kansas City is now 13th in the NFL against the run.
3. Ryan Mathews, San Diego running back: Mathews, the No. 12 overall pick in the April draft, is not having a terrible season. But he has not been able to get it going and has lost three fumbles in 87 carries. Mathews also has dealt with several injuries, including a recurring ankle injury that could affect his availability against Denver on Monday night. While he is averaging a respectable 4.4 yards per carry, his current injury status and ball-security issues are keeping him from flourishing.
1. Knowshon Moreno, Denver running back: Moreno, the No. 12 pick in the 2009 draft, is coming off his best NFL game. He had 106 yards rushing (his first 100-plus yard game in the NFL) and added three catches for 50 yards. He also had a 23-yard touchdown reception in which he showed a rare physical prowess. Moreno has struggled and has been injured often since the start of his young NFL career. Sunday, he showed signs of being the player he was at Georgia.
2. Denver‘s offensive line: One of the reasons why Moreno flourished was Denver’s line. This was the unit Denver envisioned early in the season but it was held back because of injuries. Right tackle Ryan Harris is finally healthy and rookie Zane Beadles, who replaced Harris, is back at his natural left guard spot. After one game, this unit looks like it has a nice future together.
3. Hue Jackson, Oakland offensive coordinator: One of the reasons Oakland’s offense is enjoying great balance and explosiveness is Jackson, Oakland’s first-season offensive coordinator. If Oakland keeps up its offensive surge, Jackson could be a hot head-coaching prospect in six weeks or so.