How I See It: AFC West Stock Watch

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

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1. Chargers’ health: You have to wonder if the Chargers’ window of opportunity is closing because of health issues. The team is getting older and injuries are starting to compile. The Chargers lost standout defensive tackle Jamal Williams for the year with a triceps injury. He was put on the injured reserve list Saturday. His loss is bound to affect the Chargers’ defense. The team is also dealing injuries to running back LaDainian Tomlinson and center Nick Hardwick. Both players missed the loss to Baltimore. San Diego has talent, but the injuries are concerning.

2. Chiefs’ confidence: The Chiefs have lost two straight games in the final moments to open the Todd Haley era. The same problem plagued the team last year in the final season of the Herm Edwards era.

The Chiefs have to wonder if they will ever be able to close out games. They have won just six games since the start of the 2007 season. Kansas City can hang in games, it just can’t make the plays to finish games.

Merriman 3. Shawne Merriman’s sack numbers: In his first three NFL seasons, the standout linebacker led the NFL with 39.5 sacks. He was a dominant pass-rusher.

However, in his first two games back after missing all but one game last season with a knee injury, Merriman has not gotten to the quarterback. He has six tackles and he has not been able to create a consistent pass rush. Merriman is trying and he is still a difference maker, but his knee isn’t at full strength yet. He knows it. Until Merriman is completely healthy, the sacks that were such a consistent part of Merriman’s game may have to wait.


Dumervil 1. Elvis Dumervil’s sack numbers: Dumervil had four sacks against the Browns on Sunday in Denver’s 27-6 victory. This creates all types of possibilities. Dumervil just put himself in the defensive player of the year discussion and he is a serious Pro Bowl candidate.

Dumervil has a great pass-rush burst and he seems to be a nice fit for Denver’s new 3-4 defense. He’s a player to watch.

2. Raiders’ confidence: What a goofy week for the Raiders. They opened the season Monday by losing to San Diego in the final seconds despite outplaying the Chargers at home. Then on Sunday, they beat Kansas City on the road in the final seconds after being outplayed by the Chiefs.

The result is Oakland’s 25th victory since the start of the 2003 season and a new dose of confidence. The Raiders won’t, and shouldn’t, focus on winning a game they shouldn’t have. They will focus on the win and the fact that they should be 2-0, at least in their minds. Oakland has a big game against 2-0 Denver on Sunday. The Raiders believe they can and will win.

McDaniels 3. Josh McDaniels’ approval rating: The Broncos’ 33-year-old rookie coach was not a popular figure after a tumultuous offseason in Denver. In fact, perhaps no other NFL head coach had this type of pressure on him before coaching one game.

But McDaniels in growing on folks in Denver. His Broncos are 2-0 and the team is playing fabulous defense and making timely plays offense. Winning cures all. McDaniels is living proof.