The term “East Coast Bias” has been thrown around across the board in the world of sports over the last decade. We all know that those teams on the east coast get a vast majority of the coverage in the national media. How many stories about the New York Jets do we really need? What have they done recently anyway? Exactly. My goal in this weekly feature will be to focus exclusively on teams who reside on the west coast.
In week 1 of the NFL, the west coast teams had some major ups and some major downs. Some teams have ultra high expectations for this season, while others are searching for their identity as they hope to return to contention in the NFL.
At the top of the heap on the west coast are the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, who just happen to be on a collision course in week 2, more on that shortly. The 49ers hosted the Green Bay Packers at Candlestick Park in a rematch of their divisional playoff game from last season. The trash talk was ever present, as the Packers seemed hell bent on taking out quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The Niners though were unfazed. You may recall that Kaepernick trampled the Packers defense last year to the tune of 181 yards rushing, more than any quarterback in a single game ever. The Pack were not about to let that happen again, so Kaepernick simply hooked up with Anquan Boldin 13 times for 208 yards and a touchdown en route to 412 yards passing and 3 TDs. Kap proved he can beat quality teams in any way, he just may be unstoppable. The 49ers prevailed 34-28.
The Seahawks travelled east to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton on Sunday. It wasn’t a flashy game, but the Seahawks emerged victorious by a 12-7 score. Quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 320 yards and a touchdown, and that would be just about it for the offense of the Seahawks in nailing down this victory.
The two heated division rivals are now slated to face off in front of the entire country Sunday night in Seattle. Last year the Seahawks pounded the 49ers on a Sunday night in Seattle 42-13, but the Niners were without DE Justin Smith and didn’t get much from LB Aldon Smith. This time around the 49ers are going to be at full strength defensively, and will look to avenge their loss from last December.
The San Diego Chargers looked to be en route to an impressive victory against the Houston Texans Monday night, but failed to deliver in the second half as the Texans battled back and ultimately won 31-28 on a last second field goal. Philip Rivers looked to be returning to his Pro Bowl form, throwing 4 TD passes though only amassing 195 yards. An exciting beginning for Chargers fans and new coach Mike McCoy, turned into another disappointing loss. They will look to rebound on the road in a tough matchup versus the high octane Philadelphia Eagles under their new coach Chip Kelly. The Chargers defense was gassed in the second half against Houston, and the attack from Kelly’s offense will likely provide an even greater challenge for them.
The Oakland Raiders were expected to get blown out by the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday as Andrew Luck and his crew embark on what they hope is another playoff run. Frankly, if the Raiders had lost by 30 points nobody would have been surprised. But they battled the Colts, and narrowly lost by a score of 21-17. Terelle Pryor overtook Matt Flynn as the starting quarterback over the course of the preseason, and it was his dynamic play that attracted the Raider Nation in the first place. Pryor made mistakes, as he was expected to do, but he helped spark the Raiders offense at points with his athletic ability. He rushed for 112 yards, and passed for 217 yards and a touchdown. His two interceptions weren’t egregious, as the first one was tipped at the line, and the second was on a desperation pass at the end of the game. If nothing else, Pryor makes the Raiders exciting to watch. The Raiders will host the Jacksonville Jaguars in their home opener on Sunday afternoon, in what should be a very winnable game against a poor Jaguars team.