One player to watch

December, 9, 2010
12/09/10
4:00
PM ET
One player from each AFC West team to watch in Week 14:

Denver, Champ Bailey, cornerback: At the age of 32, Bailey showed he is still an elite player in Week 13. He shut down Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe. Bowe entered the game as the hottest player in the NFL, regardless of position. Bowe had 32 catches and seven touchdowns in the three previous games. He didn’t have a catch against Bailey. Bailey is going to be a free agent after the season and he just showed the league he is still worth a ton of money.

Kansas City, Tony Moeaki, tight end: The third-round pick has been terrific. Moeaki has 36 catches for 438 yards and three touchdowns. Moeaki has surpassed the rookie production of former Kansas City superstar tight end Tony Gonzalez. He had 33 catches for 368 yards and two touchdowns in 1997. I’m not saying Moeaki is going to have the legendary impact that Gonzalez had in Kansas City, but he sure has started his Chiefs’ career the right way.

Oakland, Darrius Heyward-Bey, receiver: Heyward-Bey’s production has been non-existent. He hasn’t had a catch since he caught five passes against Seattle on Oct. 31. The No. 7 overall pick of the 2009 draft is just not ready to be a consistent NFL player. With rookie Jacoby Ford looking great and Chaz Schilens regaining his health, Heyward-Bey may be ready to take a back seat if he doesn’t start producing soon.

San Diego, Ryan Mathews, running back: It will be interesting to see how many opportunities Mathews gets to run the ball Sunday against the Chiefs. He didn’t have a carry in a loss to Oakland despite being healthy for the first time in a month. Yes, San Diego only ran the ball eight times because it fell behind quickly. But if Mathews doesn’t get many carries this week, it’s clear the Chargers just don’t trust the No. 12 overall pick yet. In addition to durability issues, Mathews had fumbling problems and has been inconsistent in pass protection.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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