AFC West Stock Watch

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
8:00
AM ET
Falling

Worry about Brady Quinn: This is really about Matt Cassel, but Quinn is becoming a central figure in a building AFC West storyline. After a 1-3 start and a three-interception performance against the Chargers in Week 4, Kansas City fans are calling for Cassel to be replaced. The Chiefs are not biting. They say they are sticking with Cassel. A major reason is the team very likely doesn’t think it’d be better off with Quinn. Still, it seems fans don’t care. They’d rather have Quinn behind center than Cassel. It’s always nice to be the backup.

Dennis Allen, the defensive savior: Allen is the first defensive-minded head coach of the Raiders since John Madden. He was brought in to fix a leaky defense. Through his first quarter as coach, though, the leak has become a flood. Oakland has allowed 125 points, the most through four games since 1962 and the defense has allowed 722 passing yards in the past two games. Oakland has just three sacks this season. It’s not Allen’s fault. He has a lack of talent and there are injury issues. Still, it is clear Allen is not the defensive cure-all in Oakland yet.

Jamaal Charles’ ball security: Charles is one of the NFL’s premier quick-strike runners. He is a bright spot in Kansas City. He’d be even better if he held onto the ball. He had two fumbles in a Week 4 loss to San Diego. Charles has to hold onto the ball or his brilliant speed will be nullified by his fumble issues.

Rising

Premier quarterback battles: We have a couple of beauties this week. The Peyton Manning-Tom Brady rivalry will take on a new flavor Sunday in New England. New uniform for Manning, but I’m sure there will be the same intensity. Sunday night, Philip Rivers plays former San Diego teammate Drew Brees in New Orleans. This will be the second meeting between the two teams since the Chargers decided to go forward with Rivers over Brees in 2006.

Corey Liuget, San Diego, defensive end: The No. 18 overall pick of the 2011 draft had a fairly quiet rookie season. The Chargers were pleased with his progress, but Liuget didn’t make too many impact plays. This season, under new defensive coordinator John Pagano, Liuget is being put in position to make plays and he is producing. He was a force against Kansas City and he is a reason this unit is so improved.

Denver’s confidence: A week ago, the Broncos were 1-2. It wasn’t a stirring start to the Manning era. However, the team was not overly worried because it knew it could have beaten both Atlanta and Houston, two undefeated teams. In Week 4, the Broncos played a less talented team than their past two opponents in the form of the Oakland Raiders and the Broncos crushed Oakland 37-6. The Broncos know they are a work in progress, but this complete team win shows it has the making of a good team.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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AFC WEST SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Sunday, 12/21
Monday, 12/22