Audibles: AFC West Week 9 preview

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-6), 1 p.m. ET

There is something interesting about the Kansas City Chiefs as we head to November.


Thank you, Tyler Thigpen. At 1-6, the Chiefs aren't exactly a compelling study heading into the final nine games of their slate. However, Thigpen added some intrigue to their season. A whole lot of it.

In his second NFL start, Thigpen, who was horrible in his first start, played shockingly well in the Chiefs' last-minute 28-24 loss to the Jets last Sunday. Thigpen threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns and he wasn't intercepted. He completed his first 10 pass attempts.

Thigpen outplayed Brett Favre for much of the game. With quarterbacks Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard out for the rest of the season with injuries, Thigpen will get plenty of chances to build upon his strong game.

It won't be easy this week against a fine Tampa Bay defense. But we're looking forward to seeing how Thigpen performs. Last week, there was little to look forward to in Kansas City, other than the draft. But Thigpen has brought some life to the Chiefs' world.

Miami Dolphins (3-4) at Denver Broncos (4-3), 4:05 p.m. ET

Are the Denver Broncos ready for the Wildcat?

At this point, it's no sure thing the Broncos' defense could handle Heathcliff, the cat. Don't be surprised if the Wildcat roars loud and proud in the Rocky Mountains.

Denver's defense has been a sieve. Without the services of the Bailey brothers, Champ (the star cornerback is out for a month with a groin injury) and Boss (the linebacker is out for the year with a knee problem that required surgery), it could be tough sledding for the Broncos.

Denver, which sits atop the AFC West with a 4-3 record, has struggled against the run and pass on defense. Trick plays just complicate matters. Confusion could be the order of the day for the struggling Broncos defense.

If Miami leaves Denver with a win, it will be on the strength of the Wildcat.

Atlanta Falcons (4-3) at Oakland Raiders (2-5), 4:15 p.m. ET

This is a battle of the highly drafted quarterbacks.

Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was the No. 3 overall pick this year.

Maybe Russell can learn something from the rookie.

Ryan has been outstanding this season. He has the look of a winner and the Falcons are flying fairly high at 4-3. Yes, Ryan is a rookie but he looks like he's on his way to being a star. Russell has struggled right along with the Raiders, who are 2-5. Like Ryan, this is essentially Russell's rookie season. He played sparingly as a rookie last season.

Russell has shown some signs that he could be a winning quarterback, but he is behind Ryan in his development. Beating Ryan and the Falcons could go a long way in Russell's development.