The wild west has been anything but expected this year. And we’re only three weeks into the NFL season.

As bad as the Denver Broncos have been at times, they are currently tied for the AFC West lead with the Kansas City Chiefs, each team sitting at 2-1 overall.

The Los Angeles Chargers are in third place, at 1-2. And the Las Vegas Raiders are the NFL’s only 0-3 team, winless so far in the Josh McDaniels Era there.

How could this be? Many predicted the Chargers to dethrone the Chiefs and take the division crown before the season kicked off. And Peter King even predicted the Raiders would be better than the Broncos, with LA winning the West.

Playing into the weird west are a few things.

First, teams and coaches aren’t sure how to use the three-game preseason after it transitioned to that many games last year. Some teams are playing their starters in every game, while teams like the Broncos didn’t play them at all.

That’s led to sloppy games early in the year.


The second factor has been injuries. Sure, you’re never allowed to blame injuries in the NFL, it’s a grueling sport. But the Chargers have been crushed by multiple injuries already this year.

Superstar quarterback Justin Herbert injured his ribs in Week 2, and then toughed it out to play in Week 3 and wasn’t as good as he usually is. Then, in that 38-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chargers had more crucial players injured.

The first major injury was to left tackle Rashawn Slater, who tore his biceps tendon:

Slater is one of the best left tackles in the NFL. Pro Football Focus has him graded as the third-best tackle in the league this season behind Andrew Thomas and Laremy Tunsil.

The left tackle is one of the most important positions on any offense, and his pass protection will be missed by Herbert to be sure.

To make it worse, wide receiver Jalen Guyton tore his ACL on Sunday, too. Guyton caught a 54-yard pass from Herbert on Sunday and had two catches on the year.

Guyton, a fourth-year pro, enjoyed 3 touchdown catches each of the last two years, while averaging 479 yards per season, too.

But it’s not just the Chargers who are banged up.


The Raiders have Nate Hobbs — their star cornerback — in concussion protocol.

PFF has Hobbs as the sixth-best corner in the league currently, so losing him would be tough. But the Raiders loss is the Broncos’ gain; Denver plays in Las Vegas this Sunday against the 0-3 Raiders.

Russell Wilson and his receivers wouldn’t mind if Hobbs wasn’t out there this week.

In further defensive back injury news, Rock Ya-Sin also injured his knee this Sunday. He was doubtful (25%) to return after his injury, but no news on how severe it could be. Las Vegas also missed Hunter Renfrow last week, who was in concussion protocol.


Finally, the Chiefs lost their first game of the year this week to the Indianapolis Colts 20-17. Harrison Butker injured himself in Week 1 and hasn’t returned. Matt Ammendola played in his place and missed an extra point as well as a field goal that would have put the Chiefs up 20-13 at the time of the miss.

Instead, Kansas City lost and today waived Ammendola.


Denver’s been without Justin Simmons since Week 1, and wide receiver Tim Patrick was placed on the season-ending Injured Reserve, too. On the offensive line, Billy Turner hasn’t been able to play, and that’s in part allowed too much pressure on Wilson when he drops back to pass.

Patrick’s absence seems to hurt more currently as Courtland Sutton, alone, has been the Broncos best chance at gaining yards and a first down through the air.

Somehow, the defense has not only held up without Simmons, but it’s become one of the best units in the league over the first three weeks.

The Chargers (1-2) face the Texans (0-2-1) in Houston at 11 a.m. MT this Sunday. Broncos (2-1) vs. Raiders (0-3) kicks off at 2:25 p.m. MT. Meanwhile, the Chiefs (2-1) face the Buccaneers (2-1) in Tampa Bay on Sunday Night Football.