One player to watch for each AFC West team in Week 9:
Denver, Champ Bailey, cornerback: The veteran star had some harsh words about his team after a 45-10 home loss to Detroit on Sunday. Bailey said the Broncos have not been able to compete against good teams. He said that must change. Watch for Bailey to play very determined at Oakland on Sunday as he tries to show some pride in an upset attempt.
Kansas City, Derrick Johnson, linebacker: The underrated Johnson was terrific in the Chiefs’ win over the Chargers in Week 8. He had 16 tackles, a sack and an interception in the game as he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. This is the type of player who can take games over.
Oakland, Carson Palmer, quarterback: Let’s face it: The most important player for the rest of the Raiders’ season is Palmer. If he plays well, the Raiders could win the division. If he does not play well, Oakland will be in trouble. Palmer vowed that he’d be ready to face the Broncos after benefiting from the Raiders’ bye week. Let’s see if Palmer (who threw three interceptions in the second half against Kansas City in his Oakland debut in Week 7) is still rusty or if he’s ready to take the Raiders on a run.
San Diego, Marcus McNeill, tackle: Lost a bit in Philip Rivers’ fumble in the final minute of regulation of an emotional overtime loss Monday night was McNeill’s poor play. He was penalized six times in Kansas City. He had four false stats. The left tackle is too polished and too gifted to have this type of game. His job will be easier this week against Green Bay because he will be home, but McNeill has to bounce back from a forgettable night.