How I See It: AFC West Stock Watch


1. Josh McDaniels, former Denver coach: Fourteen months ago, McDaniels was considered one of the brightest coaching stars the NFL had ever seen. The then-33-year-old McDaniels won his first six games as an NFL head coach. Now it is questionable if McDaniels will ever get another opportunity to be a head coach. He has gone 5-17 since his hot start, made several questionable personnel decisions and he was the coach of a team involved in a videotape scandal. It all led to McDaniels’ firing in Denver on Monday.

2. San Diego’s holiday cheer: December used to mean automatic victory for the Chargers. Not anymore. San Diego was beaten by Oakland 28-13 on Sunday. It was the Chargers’ first loss in the month of December since 2005 and was a crushing blow to the 6-6 Chargers’ playoff hopes.

3. Ryan Mathews, San Diego running back: The rookie didn’t have a carry against Oakland despite being healthy for the first time in a month. The Chargers don’t seem to trust Mathews, who was the No. 12 overall draft pick in April, much these days. He has trouble holding onto the ball and he is an unproven blocker. Mathews’ future is still bright, but right now, he’s a second option behind Mike Tolbert as a lead back.


1. Kansas City’s playoff chances: The Chiefs were expecting a must-win game at San Diego in Week 14. But that changed when the Raiders whipped the Chargers. Now, Kansas City -- which won a total of 10 games in the past three seasons combined -- is 8-4 and has a two-game lead over both Oakland and San Diego. The Chiefs can eliminate San Diego from contention in the division chase with a win Sunday.

2. Oakland’s run offense: The Raiders, once again, showed how important their run game is to their success in the win-loss column. After running for a combined 77 yards in two blowout losses, the Raiders ran for 251 yards on 52 carries against the Chargers. Oakland dictated this game on the ground. When that happens, the Raiders usually win.

3. Oakland’s toughness: The Raiders manhandled San Diego at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Oakland’s offensive and defensive line set the tone. San Diego couldn’t stop the run on defense and couldn’t establish the run on offense. After being handled by Pittsburgh and Miami, Oakland’s lines made strides Sunday.