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Final Word: AFC West

10/16/2009

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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 6:

Can Cromartie bounce back against Marshall? San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie has struggled this season, especially against Pittsburgh two weeks ago. Cromartie had a poor season last year as well. The Chargers need him to bounce back. But it may be a difficult task this week. He is facing Denver and Brandon Marshall. Marshall had 18 catches and completely flustered Cromartie in a game last season. Marshall is becoming a bigger part of the Broncos’ offense than he was earlier in the season. Denver coach Josh McDaniels loves exploiting weaknesses, so expect him to unleash Marshall on Cromartie. The pressure is on Cromartie. Can he handle it?

The Raiders and Vick: Michael Vick’s mentor, Tony Dungy, acknowledged he advised Vick against going to the Raiders. Dungy didn’t say if the Raiders showed an interest in Vick. Perhaps Dungy meant he told Vick to scratch Oakland off his list as they began to think about potential landing spots. Now, Vick will play at Oakland as a visitor with Philadelphia this week. If Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell continues to self destruct, the Raiders may try to change Vick’s mind down the road.

Will the Wild Horse run free in San Diego? The Broncos revealed their form of the Wildcat formation (they call it the Wild Horse in Denver) Sunday against New England. McDaniels didn’t use it in the first four games of the season and he sparingly used it as New England’s offensive coordinator last season. He may have used it against the Patriots because they struggled against it in the past. The Broncos moved the ball well in the formation. So, now their opponents have to prepare for it. I wouldn’t be shocked if McDaniels never uses it again or if he uses it a little each week.

Can the Chiefs run the ball when it counts? Kansas City has struggled in many aspects of the game as it has compiled a 0-5 record. Its problems are multifold. But the running game is at the top of the list. The Chiefs just can’t move the rock. Kansas City is one of three teams not to score a touchdown on the ground in the red zone, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information. The Chiefs play at Washington. Can this team finally break through on the ground?

Can Orton stay clutch? Denver quarterback Kyle Orton may be known as a game manager, but in Denver he is developing into a top late-game threat. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information, Orton has thrown three touchdowns with no interceptions in the fourth quarter. He has the second best passers’ rating in the fourth quarter in the entire league, next to the Giants’ Eli Manning. If Denver is within range of the Chargers in the fourth quarter Monday night, San Diego better pay attention to Orton. It’s becoming his time to shine.