AFC West Stock Watch

September, 27, 2011
9/27/11
1:00
PM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. Philip Rivers' interception reputation: Even though he is a chance-taking gunslinger, Rivers has never had major interception problems. Now he does. Rivers has thrown two interceptions in each game this season. That is the first time he’s thrown two interceptions in three straight games in his career. He has never thrown three interceptions in one game. Rivers’ highest interception total in a season is 15. He’s nine picks from tying it with 13 games to go.

2. Willis McGahee, Denver running back: McGahee is a nice backup. He can’t be counted on as a top option. Sure, he had 101 yards on 28 carries in a Week 2 win over Cincinnati. Yet, in Week 3, McGahee, who’ll turn 30 next month, had 52 yards on 22 carries. Denver needs Knowshon Moreno to get healthy and for McGahee to get fewer carries.

3. The Chiefs’ chances in this division: The defending AFC West champions are now 0-3. It’s early, but this team looks much closer to a team that will be in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes than in a playoff chase.

[+] EnlargeDarren McFadden
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesDarren McFadden rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns in Oakland's win over the Jets.
RISING

1. Darren McFadden's MVP chances: McFadden has a long way to go to have a legitimate chance to win the NFL MVP award. But he’s in the early-season conversation. McFadden is leading the NFL with 393 rushing yards. He is averaging 6.4 yards per carry. It’s difficult for running backs to win the award, though. Since 2000, only three running backs have won the award. The last to do it was former San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson (2006).

2. The Raiders’ reputation in the AFC: Oakland was 2-8 outside of the division last year. It was routinely thumped by the better teams in the conference. However, Sunday’s 34-24 comeback win over the New York Jets will cause teams to pay attention to the Raiders. I know one team will notice -- the New England Patriots. They visit Oakland on Sunday.

3. Ryan Mathews, Chargers, running back: The second-year back looks great. He is much improved from his rookie season. Mathews had 98 yards rushing and 51 yards receiving in Week 3. He runs with authority and confidence.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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