How I See It: AFC West Stock Watch


1. Kyle Orton’s ball security: Denver quarterback Kyle Orton is having a fine season. It continued Sunday in a loss to San Francisco when he threw for 369 yards. But Orton hurt his team with sloppy play. He was intercepted and he fumbled twice, losing one. The 49ers capitalized on his turnovers in Denver’s eight-point loss. Orton is a positive for Denver, but he needs to cut down on the mistakes if he is going to lead Denver back from a 2-6 start.

2. San Diego’s secondary: San Diego has the No. 1-ranked overall defense (and No. 1-ranked passing defense) in the NFL, but it has to tighten up its pass defense going into a game against the explosive Texans. San Diego allowed 303 passing yards against Tennessee. Five different Titans receivers caught passes of at least 24 yards. San Diego survived the onslaught, but it has to improve in this area.

3. Denver’s run defense and offense: Denver allowed 143 yards on the ground to San Francisco, after giving up 328 yards to Oakland the week prior. Denver is ranked 31st in the NFL against the run. The Broncos are ranked No. 32 in the NFL offensively in rushing. The Broncos are simply being destroyed on the ground on both sides of the ball.


1. Oakland’s offensive line: A big reason Oakland has enjoyed a major offensive resurgence is improved offensive line play. The unit is mauling defenses. This was a major weak spot going into the season. But this group is beating down defenses in the run and passing game. If this continues, so will the good times in Oakland.

2. San Diego’s run defense: While the Chargers were suspect in the passing game against the Titans, they were fantastic against the run. Titans running back Chris Johnson was, for the most part, stymied by San Diego. The Chargers are ranked No. 2 in the NFL against the run. Now, they have to keep it up Sunday against Houston’s Arian Foster.

3. Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop: Succop could have easily been on the falling list. But redemption is sweet. After missing a 39-yard field goal attempt earlier in overtime on a windy day, Succop nailed a 35-yarder at the end of overtime to give the Chiefs a 13-10 win over Buffalo and a 5-2 record. Not only did Succop give the Chiefs a victory, but he also saved his own psyche. Now he is heading into Sunday’s game at Oakland knowing he gave his team a win instead of costing it a game.