- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Using AFC East blogger Tim Graham as inspiration, we’re going to look at the candidates if we were (and maybe we will in January) giving an AFC West MVP award.
Unlike the AFC East, we’re only going three deep. There are two playoff contenders in the AFC West, San Diego and Denver. So, we’re going to tighten the competition for the top player the division. Not that you need any prodding, but feel free to list your candidates in the comments section at the bottom of the post:
Philip Rivers, quarterback, San Diego
Rivers is not only a top candidate for the MVP of his division, but for the entire NFL. If Rivers -- who is a perfect 16-0 in December in his career -- finishes the month strong and things fall into place, he will get some votes.
Rivers is the best player in the AFC West and he is the unquestioned leader of the Chargers. He has this team, which has won eight straight games, playing at a very high level. Rivers rarely makes mistakes and he does enough each week to lead the team to a win.
Elvis Dumervil, linebacker, Denver
Dumervil has been Denver’s best player this season as it has made an unexpected playoff push. In his first season as a 3-4 linebacker, the fourth-year pro is thriving. Dumervil leads the NFL with 15 sacks. He is one sack from tying Denver’s team record. He makes Denver's defense dangerous and he has to be accounted for on every play.
Antonio Gates, tight end, San Diego
Gates is having perhaps his best season in what could be a Hall of Fame career. Fully bounced back from an injury-riddled 2008, Gates has been fabulous this season. He has 71 catches for 1,038 yards. His best season was in 2005 when he had 89 catches for 1,101 yards. At 29, Gates could be putting together his best numbers.
5hEric D. Williams