How I See It: AFC West Stock Watch


1. Denver’s defense: The Broncos have allowed 100 points in the past three games and have allowed an NFL-high 323 points under first-year defensive coordinator Don Martindale. Denver allowed a total of 324 points last season under Mike Nolan, who departed after one season because he and coach Josh McDaniels mutually decided to part ways. McDaniels may have to look for another defensive coordinator.

2. Oakland’s run game: The Raiders’ run game has gone flat during a two-game losing skid. Oakland had 16 yards on 12 carries in a loss to Miami on Sunday and it has 77 yards total in the past two games. Oakland has tumbled from No. 2 to No. 5 in the NFL because of the drought.

3. Oakland’s quarterback situation: Bruce Gradkowski has re-injured a shoulder that kept him out five games. That means Jason Campbell may be the starter for an extended period, perhaps even for the rest of the season. If Oakland -- which has benched Campbell twice this season -- wants to pull him again, it will have to go to No. 3 quarterback Kyle Boller. Yes, it's a mess. It may not be a JaMarcus Russell-like mess, but it’s clear the Raiders are heading back to square one at the position.


1. Kansas City’s offense: The Chiefs’ offense is rolling. It has scored 102 points in the past three weeks. Quarterback Matt Cassel has thrown 18 touchdown passes and one interception in the past seven weeks. Running back Jamaal Charles is second in the NFL with 1,021 rushing yards and receiver Dwayne Bowe has 32 catches and seven touchdowns in the past three games. It's as if first-year offensive coordinator Charlie Weis never left the NFL.

2. San Diego’s defensive scoring ability: The Chargers’ defense scored more than their offense did in a 36-14 win at Indianapolis on Sunday. Linebacker Kevin Burnett and safety Eric Weddle both returned interceptions off Peyton Manning for touchdowns. The San Diego offense scored one touchdown while settling for five field goals. It’s a strange way to get to 36 points, but I’m sure San Diego will take it.

3. The race: It should be a fun race to the finish in the AFC West. Kansas City has won two straight games and is in first place at 7-4. San Diego has won four straight games and is 6-5. Oakland is on the edge of the race at 5-6. I expect the Chiefs and Chargers -- who play Dec. 12 in San Diego -- to slug this out to the end and demonstrate that the division is getting better and becoming relevant in the NFL landscape again. These are two legitimate playoff contenders heading into December.