AFC West: Final Word

September, 25, 2009
9/25/09
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


Five nuggets of knowledge about Sunday’s games:
Ron Chenoy/US PRESSWIRE
How much will Brandon Marshall see the field against the Raiders?
Will we see the Wildcat in San Diego? It’s not out of the question we'll see the formation from either the Dolphins or the Chargers. Of course, the Dolphins are the team that has relied on the Wildcat, but the Chargers did toy with it some in the offseason and during training camp. San Diego coach Norv Turner said the main reason the Chargers practiced the Wildcat was to help their defense with the Miami game. But I wouldn’t be shocked if the Chargers used the Wildcat at some point. Why not against the Dolphins?

Cassel is sideshow to Vick: Matt Cassel is not going to be the focus in Philadelphia this week. Most weeks he would after curious comments by his coach, but not this week. Michael Vick is expected to make his Eagles debut against the Chiefs. Good timing for Cassel. Tuesday, Chiefs coach Todd Haley said he wouldn’t hesitate to replace Cassel (who will be paid $40 million over the next three season) if he struggles. That puts pressure on Cassel, no matter that the benching scenario is unlikely. But Cassel is not the story this week. It’s all Vick in Philadelphia.

How will Marshall rotate this week? You know what is in store for Denver Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall on Sunday in Oakland? Marshall started last week against Cleveland but sat out nearly the entire second quarter. He only came back on the field because of an injury to Eddie Royal. Denver coach Josh McDaniels downplayed Marshall’s inactivity and said he is part of a rotation in Denver. Marshall, of course, is a premier player. But he is still in McDaniels’ doghouse and I wouldn’t be surprised if Marshall continues to be a part-time player against the Raiders.

Raiders need to stop the run again: The Raiders’ biggest defensive issue heading into the season was their run defense. Oakland was ranked 31st in the NFL against the rush last season and gave up 507 yards on the ground in two preseason games this summer. After giving up 77 yards on the ground to San Diego, the Raiders gave up 171 yards on the ground to the Chiefs. Denver can run the ball and will likely try to exploit the issue against Oakland.

Can the Chargers take advantage of the tired Dolphins? The Dolphins are bound to be a sleepy bunch when they visit San Diego on Sunday. The Chargers, who have been ravaged by injuries, have to take advantage of everything they can get. The weary Dolphins could be looking for a pillow come game time. Miami played at home on Monday night and then had to fly six hours across the country for this game. Miami is sure to be worn out by the time the game kicks off.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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AFC WEST SCOREBOARD

Sunday, 1/25