SPORTS OBSERVATIONS FROM THE MIDWEST

Sports Observations From The Midwest

Midwest sports blog covering NCAA Big 12 Football, NCAA Big 12 Basketball, NFL's AFC West, and MLB's AL Central news, commentary, football analysis, predictions and more.

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Pic of editorDeep in the heart of the Midwest, comes a man who knows a great deal about sports. Good news! He's willing to share!

Learn more about the editor and Sports Observations From The Midwest.

Raiders Can’t Hold on as Colts Take Opener

Oakland showed some life against a playoff contender. In fact, they looked pretty good even in a loss. Terrelle Pryor started slow but finally got things going in the second quarter. Oakland led most of the fourth quarter until Andrew Luck orchestrated a game winning drive in the final minutes.

Raiders Offensive Grade: B

Terrelle Pryor at times was an excellent catalyst for this offense, but he was also a hindrance. Pryor threw an interception on his first possession and his last while going in for a game winning score. At times he was unstoppable on the ground rushing for 112 yards. For this game, the Oakland offense looked good, totaling 372 yards.

Raiders Defensive Grade: B

Oakland’s defense held down Andrew Luck as best they could. They allowed two passing touchdowns in the first half and then shut him down. Until the game winning drive, Luck had a hard time moving the ball in the second half. They were solid for most of the game but could not come up with the big stop when they needed it most.

Raiders Overall Grade: B

The Raider turned out a solid effort against a decent Indianapolis team. They kept it close and were leading in fourth quarter. But in crunch time, Oakland was just not able to make it. The Raiders get a shot at redemption when Jacksonville comes to visit.

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Chargers Blow 21 Point Lead, Shocked by Texans

As well as the Chargers played in the first half, they play equally as bad in the second half. San Diego raced out to 21-7 lead at halftime, quickly scored a touchdown to start the second half, and proceeded to fall flat on their faces. A collective effort of greatness turned to a collective effort of bad.

Chargers Offensive Grade: C

San Diego had two drives cove the majority of the field, two with short field and zero scoring the last 25 minutes. The Chargers did nothing offensively to protect their 21 point lead and cost them the game. Phillip Rivers was off his game completing less than fifty percent of his passes but he did account for all of San Diego’s touchdowns. They took their foot of the pedal allowing the Texans to make their way back into the game. The offense was a big problem in this game but it was not the only one.

Chargers Defensive Grade: D

When given a 21 point lead in the third quarter, 99 out of 100 times you keep it. Or at least win the game. The Chargers did neither. San Diego held Houston to seven points in the first half. All was looking well, and then the second half happened. The Chargers allowed 24 unanswered points capped off by a game winning field goal as time expired. The defense, which had no help from the offense, was exhausted, spending way more time on the field than they should have. Still, with the game on the line, you need to find a way to close it out.

Chargers Overall Grade: C-

There’s not much to say here except San Diego snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in this one. The Chargers next opponent is as much a challenge as Houston was. San Diego travels to Philadelphia and will try to contain Chip Kelly’s high octane offense.

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Manning’s Career Night Smashes Defending Champs

Go figure. A 37 year old quarterback, one year removed from having several neck surgeries, on opening night, against the defending Super Bowl champions, throws for seven touchdowns in one game. Seven! SEVEN! That’s just incredible. It has been 44 years since those numbers have been touched. It’s only the sixth time someone has thrown for seven touchdowns in one game in the entire history of the NFL. Yes there was more to this game than the record breaking performance, but let’s keep talking about the stat line.

Broncos Offensive Grade: A+

Peyton Manning was the Manning of old, and then some. The Super Thomas Brothers, Demaryius and Julius, accounted for four of the seven scores while two more went to Wes Welker and the last to Andre Caldwell. The only thing missing from the offense was a ground game. But who needs a running attack when you throw for seven touchdowns in one game!

Broncos Defensive Grade: B+

Oh yeah! There was defense in this game too. Denver’s defense actually surrendered more points in the first half than their counterpart. Start the second half, and they locked it down. Most of Baltimore’s point came when they were down big. The Ravens were passing every down halfway through the third quarter on. A very solid effort from the defense despite giving up massive yards and some points.

Broncos Overall Grade: A

It was not perfect, but it was damn close. Peyton Manning took advantage of a rebuilding Raven’s defense. The defense did their job holding down Baltimore’s passing attack. Next week is the Manning Bowl. My guess is both Mannings don’t combine for seven touchdowns next week.

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Chiefs Dominate in Andy Reid’s Debut

I truly expected Kansas City to win their opener against the lowly Jaguars, but I did not expect total domination. The Chiefs look nothing like their 2012 selves, making Jacksonville look like a high school team.

Chiefs Offensive Grade: C+

Alex Smith started his career as a Chief in fairly successful fashion. He threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions and spread the ball around evenly. Jamaal Charles contributed as well with 77 yards on the ground and a touchdown. There were some concerns, however, that showed in this game. Kansas City scored 21 points in the first half on offense but none in the second half. Two of those three touchdown drives were set up by short fields. The Chiefs seemed to have trouble moving the ball consistently. There is plenty of work to be done on this side of the ball before their next game.

Chiefs Defensive Grade: A

Kansas City’s defense played a nearly flawless game. Justin Houston had a whale of a game with three sacks as part of a six sack effort from the defense. Tamba Hali had a pick six and Brandon Flowers also had an interception. The defense as a whole allowed 178 yards, a large portion of that coming on the Jaguars final drive and where still turned away at the goal line. This is what this defense is capable of when the offense can stay on the field long enough to give them a rest.

Chiefs Overall Grade: A-
The Chiefs really looked dominant, albeit against a terrible team, in the first half. There is still plenty to improve upon and other things can be adjusted to make this a better football team. The Chiefs defense has shown it can be very good and the offense appears to have a pulse. A tougher test will be coming next week against Dallas in Arrowhead.

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Royals Wildcard Chase Update

When we last checked in on the Royals wildcard situation, Kansas City was 8.5 games behind Detroit and six games back of Oakland. Five games later, things have become a bit more interesting. There is a new wildcard trailer in the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees, Indians, and Orioles have all come a bit closer to the Royals position. Kansas City is currently still 8.5 games back of Detroit, 4.5 back of Tampa Bay, two behind New York, 1.5 behind Baltimore, and one back on Cleveland. Let’s take a look at the remaining schedule of all teams and see if the Royals have a shot at overtaking any of them. We will ignore Detroit due to the large gap between the teams and the unlikelihood that, unless KC sweeps the remaining games with the Tigers, will catch them.

Best case records for the Royals and finals records are listed below.

Tampa Bay New York Baltimore Cleveland Kansas City
2 @ LAA1 vs CHW1 @ CLE1 vs BAL2 vs SEA
3 @ SEA4 vs BOS4 vs CHW3 vs NYM3 vs DET
3 vs BOS4 @ BAL4 vs NYY3 vs KC3 @ CLE
3 @ MIN3 @BOS3 @ TOR4 @ CHW3 @ DET
4 vs TEX3 @ TOR3 @ BOS3 @ KC3 vs CLE
4 vs BAL3 vs SF4 @ TB4 vs HOU3 vs TEX
3 @ NYY3 vs TB3 vs TOR2 vs CHW3 @ SEA
3 @ TOR3 @ HOU3 vs BOS4 @ MIN4 @ CHW
14 - 1114 - 1015 - 1017 - 718 - 6
90 - 7288 - 7488 - 7490 - 7290 - 72

It would appear that Cleveland would be the one team out of all of them to determine Kansas City’s fate. The six games between the Indians and the Royals will most likely eliminate one or the other. Tampa Bay, New York, and Baltimore will all play each other down the stretch as well as playing Boston at least once. Even with all those factors, Kansas City would most likely need to go at least 18-6 over their last 24 games.

Tampa Bay has a somewhat difficult schedule. They finish on the west coast, a place they have struggled this season, and finish the season playing four of six series against contending teams. The Rays could easily finish below .500 the rest of the season but will probably finish at about 90 wins.

New York has two series coming up with Boston. After that, the schedule gets easier. Three of the last four come against non-contenders which will provide a nice cushion assuming they survive battles against Boston and Baltimore

Baltimore has a mixed schedule in front of them. The Orioles have ten games against Toronto and Chicago. The rest come against playoff contenders. The schedule shows that this team could take advantage of the matchups, eliminating the competition, or crumble under the difficult opponents.

Cleveland has the easiest schedule of the remaining wildcard contenders. One game left with Baltimore and six with Kansas City and that’s it. The rest are against sub-.500 teams. Cleveland looks to be the most threatening to take the wildcard away from the Rays.

Kansas City finishes with Seattle, and then has five straight series with first or second place teams. The Royals schedule may be one of the more difficult down the stretch. They can make up ground in their own division with four series against Detroit and Cleveland. Kansas City has had some success against Detroit but has struggled against Cleveland. The Royals would need a very strong push to make up enough ground.

My wildcard prediction:

Tampa Bay90 - 72
Cleveland89 - 73
Kansas City88 - 74
New York87 - 75
Baltimore85 - 77

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