How I See It: AFC West Stock Watch

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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson



1. Kyle Orton, quarterback, Denver: For the second straight week, Orton did not play well. It is no coincidence that Denver lost both games. Orton has led Denver to only 10 points offensively in the past two games.

Orton got sloppy Monday night against Pittsburgh as he threw three of his four interceptions this season. He had a passer rating of zero in the fourth quarter. Orton is not resembling the reconstructed quarterback of the first six games this season. He looks like the quarterback he was with Chicago in the past.


2. Antonio Gates’ hands: The Chargers’ Pro Bowl tight end is having a fine season and he ended up having a solid game against the Giants on Sunday. But Gates uncharacteristically dropped two sure catches Sunday. Had Gates not dropped those two balls, the Chargers probably wouldn’t have had to scramble to win the game in the final seconds.

Gates needs to tighten his grip Sunday against Philadelphia. It shouldn’t be a problem. Gates is a star and he will fix this minor glitch in his game.

3. Chiefs defense: The Kansas City defense can’t make big stops. The unit just isn’t getting better. Jacksonville gutted the Chiefs for 426 yards of total offense.

Jacksonville had success both in the air and on the ground. While Kansas City’s offense showed some signs of life Sunday, the defense is not playing winning football.


1. San Diego’s pass rush: The Chargers have had 15 sacks in the past three games, all victories. San Diego ignited its pass rush by using safety blitzes. Now, the entire defense is getting a push.

Linebacker Shaun Phillips has five sacks in the past three games and linebacker Shawne Merriman has four sacks in the past two games after not getting any sacks in the first six contests.


2. Chris Chambers, receiver, Chiefs: What a stunning week it was for Chambers. First, he was unexpectedly cut by the Chargers a day after making a huge catch in a win over Oakland, despite being benched for the first time. The next day, Kansas City claimed Chambers in its desperate search to find a veteran receiver.

In his first game as a Chief, Chambers had three catches for 70 yards. He had two touchdown catches in the fourth quarter as the Chiefs scrambled to get back into the game, a 24-21 loss to the Jaguars. If Chambers can regain his mojo (he was having a poor season with San Diego) this will be a huge boost for Kansas City.


3. Jamaal Charles, running back, Kansas City: It looks like the second-year player will get a chance to be the Chiefs’ full-time starting running back. He inherits the job because Kansas City cut Larry Johnson on Monday.

Charles, a speedster, will get the start and be backed up by Kolby Smith. If Charles ends the season well, he could make a case to be Johnson's long-term replacement.