NFL Preseason Takeaways: What We Learned From AFC West in Week 2

The NFL preseason action ramped up a touch last week as teams prepare for the all-important third "dress rehearsal" preseason game.

In the AFC West, the Raiders continue to deal with Antonio Brown, his feet, his helmet, a fish head and anything else you can think of. They also looked pretty good in stifling Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals.

The Broncos made Jimmy Garoppolo look like a practice squad quarterback in his return to action, while the Chargers struggled on the ground against the Saints in the absence of Melvin Gordon.

There are just two preseason games left until the games start counting, and there were a number of things to be gleaned about the division in the latest round of exhibition games.

Here's what we learned about the AFC West in Week 2 of the preseason:


While Brown tested out his new "ugly lid" in pregame warmups, the star receiver didn't see game action. He stood on the sidelines and laughed with his teammates as the Raiders went to work shredding one of the worst teams in the NFL a season ago. 

In their first action of the 2019 season, quarterback Derek Carr and the first-team offense knifed through the Cardinals with relative ease. A heavy dose of running back Josh Jacobs gave way to a pretty 27-yard pass from Carr to Tyrell Williams. Two plays later, Carr hit Ryan Grant on a short out route and the veteran receiver jaunted into the end zone for a 13-yard score. That was all for Carr, Jacobs and the rest of the offense, but that one drive showed Carr's continued mastery of head coach Jon Gruden's system is paying off.

If the Raiders' offense enters the season healthy, Carr and Co. have the potential to rack up a lot of points.


I talked last week about how absurd it is the Chiefs were able to add rookie Mecole Hardman to an offense that already includes Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins, not to forget reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes.

We all know it was the other side of the ball that held Kansas City back last season and kept the Chiefs from knocking off the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

During the offseason, head coach Andy Reid sent defensive coordinator Bob Sutton packing and hired Steve Spagnuolo to bulk up the unit. The scheme change from a 3-4 to a 4-3 appears to already be getting more out of defensive end Breeland Speaks, who was playing at outside linebacker by Sutton last season where he was tasked more with covering running backs than getting after the quarterback, something he was quite good at while playing at Ole Miss.

Speaks has looked much more engaged while playing defensive end in the preseason. He picked up a sack in the Chiefs' first game before spraining his knee in their loss to the Steelers. It looks like he shouldn't miss much regular-season time, and his evolution shows the change to Spagnuolo's scheme might be paying off. 


The Chargers have one of, if not the most feared pass rush units in the NFL. Full stop.

Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa form a talented duo that few teams can keep at bay and LA got even better up front. In the draft, the Chargers added Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery which just isn't fair. 

Tillery showed his stuff in the Chargers' preseason loss to the Saints, abusing Nick Easton -- who is competing for the Saints' starting center job -- before sacking Taysom Hill.

Good luck blocking the Bolts.

[RELATED: We have a visual: AB seen holding NFL approved helmet]


There's no telling what the Broncos are going to get out of an offense heavily reliant on an aging Joe Flacco, Emmanuel Sanders coming off a ruptured Achilles and a Philip Lindsay-Royce Freeman two-headed backfield.

However, it looks like new head coach Vic Fangio already has the defense cooking.

The Broncos starters mauled the 49ers during their time on the field Monday night. Bradley Chubb and Von Miller terrorized Garoppolo, holding the Niners to 32 yards on 15 plays, with a sack, a forced fumble, an interception, a near pick-six and two balls batted down at the line.

Denver's defense is legit.

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