AFC West Stock Watch

October, 24, 2012
10/24/12
8:00
AM ET
Falling

The San Diego Chargers' integrity: The NFL is investigating the Chargers for using a sticky substance in Week 6 against the Denver Broncos. A Chargers’ employee was caught by an official as he gave out the substance to players on the field during a timeout. The Chargers could be fined and lose at least one draft choice if the league deems it an illegal activity. The Chargers have denied any wrongdoing. The league doesn’t like cheating in any form.

Space between the Oakland Raiders and first place: Do the Raiders and their 2-4 record look like playoff contenders? Not really, but it doesn’t matter because they are in the race in the AFC West. They trail Denver and San Diego by one game. The Raiders are a factor in the race, especially considering their next two opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have won a combined three games.

Patience in Kansas City and San Diego: Fans are not happy into these two cities. The combination of disappointments on the field and issues off the field have fans surly. Keep an eye on both of these situations. Things could blow up in both organizations if the trouble persists.

Rising

Raiders’ ability to finish: Last week, the Raiders played well at the Atlanta Falcons but wilted late, losing to the Falcons by a field goal. This week, the Raiders didn’t play well, but found a way to beat the Jaguars in overtime. That is a good sign for this growing program. Winning during adversity could spark this team.

Questions about Philip Rivers: The Chargers had a bye in Week 7, but the questions about Rivers didn’t stop. He has struggled in the second half of the past two games and the Chargers blew double-digit leads. Rivers’ issues in those games have people wondering if he has lost his mojo. The only way for him to stop the questions is to show he still has said mojo.

Anticipation of a quarterback Duel: Both Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are playing at a high level going into the matchup between Denver and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night. This has a chance to be a humdinger as two of the premier players in the NFL will try to outshine one another.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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