By Nate Winkler (@natewinkler)
AFC West Cow Tipping Champion
Week One left the AFC West with two winners (Denver, San Diego) and two losers (Kansas City, Oakland). The Chargers got the first division victory over the Oakland Raiders, 22-14, on Monday Late Night Football while the Broncos outlasted the Pittsburgh Steelers, 33-19, in Peyton Manning's return. The Atlanta Falcons came to Kansas City and smoked the Chiefs, 40-24. All four teams go outside the division in Week Two, and San Diego is the only team with a home game this week.
Here are five things to watch:
1. The Magic Number for the Denver Broncos as they travel to the Georgia Dome is "19".
Last week the Broncos' defense gave up 19 points to the Pittsburgh Steelers on their way to their first victory under PMFM. Manning is now a remarkable 89-5 (.947) when his defense allows 19 points or less. What's more impressive is Manning is 35-0 when his team gives up 19 or less on the road.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is 24-4 at home in his four seasons when the Falcons score 19 points or more, and 26-7 overall in the Georgia Dome. Ryan leads the NFL in CHFF's exclusive Real Quarterback Rating with a 139.82 after one game and the pressure will be on the Broncos' secondary once again this week.
2. The odds are against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders this week as they both travel East.
Both the Chiefs and the Raiders could find themselves two games back in the division already if they aren't able to get victories against their winless AFC East counterparts.
Kansas City travels to Buffalo to take on a Bills team that also allowed 40+ points in Week One, and the Chiefs are just 2-8 since re-alignment in 2002 when traveling to play an AFC East opponent. The Chiefs have managed just one victory (1986) in eight tries at Orchard Park.
Likewise, Oakland travels to Miami to take on the hapless Dolphins,where they are just 2-5 all-time. The good news for the Raiders is they are facing a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill (39.0 Passer Rating, 36.13 Real QB Rating) who was worse than every quarterback in the NFL last week except for fellow rookie Brandon Weeden.
3. The East Coast - West Coast rivalry swings back to 2Pac's side when San Diego hosts Tennessee.
The Titans ran into a buzz saw last weekend as they were thoroughly dominated by the New England Patriots in defeat and it won't be any easier this week. This is the only matchup in Week Two where one team has a higher ranking in every statistic CHFF measures, as you can see here in our Week 1 Quality Stats Power Rankings.
Chris Johnson was held to just 4 Yards on 11 (0.4 YPC) carries against New England, and the Chargers held Darren McFadden to 32 Yards on 15 carries (2.1YPC) in Week One. Couple that with the fact Tennessee is 0-4 lifetime at San Diego and 3-9 all time when visiting the AFC West and this could be another long day for the Titans.
4. Win Third Down, Win the Game.
The Denver Broncos' new-look offense had a 55.56 percent success rate on third down last week against the Steelers, but their defense couldn't get off the field as they allowed the Steelers to convert at a 57.89 percent clip, including two touchdown passes by Ben Roethlisberger.
The Atlanta Falcons were 50-50 on third down offense, but allowed the Chiefs to convert at a 68.75 percent rate, 31st in the league. Now they'll be without starting cornerback Brent Grimes who was lost for the season with an Achilles injury.
The only team that was worse than Atlanta on third down defense was the Buffalo Bills, who allowed the New York Jets to convert on 71.43 percent of their tries. The Chiefs offense must stay on schedule to take advantage of the Bills third down woes.
5. The NFL is a passing league, but it's efficiency, not fantasy stats, that determine the winners on Sunday.
Teams that had a better Real Passing Yards Per Attempt, Passer Rating Differential, and Real Quarterback Rating were 15-1 in Week One. The lone loser was the St. Louis Rams, who may have held on for a victory if not for a blunder by the (female) line judge just before the two-minute warning.
In 2011, the Correlation to Victory for those three passing efficiency metrics was above 70 percent, and the team with the better Real Quarterback Rating won an astounding 86.9 percent of the time. As CHFF disciples already know, there is not a more important singular statistic in the history of the NFL than Passer Rating Differential. 40 of the 69 NFL Champions (58%) since 1940 have finished either first or second in PRD.