|ESPN.com: AFC West||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Inspired by our Fear Factor package, let's look at a situation that each AFC West team fears:
Denver: What if Champ Bailey doesn't heal well?
The Broncos need Bailey, their best defensive player, to heal quickly. Bailey suffered a groin injury on Oct. 20 at New England and he is expected to miss at least four weeks. That means Bailey probably won't be back until December. If the injury lingers, the Broncos could be in big trouble. Despite losing three of their past four games, Denver is 4-3 and sits atop the AFC West. But the team needs Bailey. The defense is in shambles and Bailey is badly missed. Four games is bad enough. The thought of Bailey missing five or six games is truly frightening for Denver.
Kansas City: What if Glenn Dorsey doesn't pan out?
The Chiefs expected Dorsey to make an instant impact when he was drafted with the No. 5 overall pick. He hasn't been a disaster but he hasn't been a defense-changing player, either. The Chiefs need Dorsey to make progress the rest of the season. He doesn't need to instantly transform into a Pro Bowl player, but he has to make a bigger impact. Dorsey is the centerpiece of the youth movement. If he doesn't develop that is a very scary situation for the Chiefs.
Oakland: What if Darren McFadden doesn't heal?
McFadden has been dealing with foot injuries virtually all season. The No. 4 overall pick of this year's draft has only had one good game this season. Often, turf toe injuries bother players all season. If McFadden can't become an impact player this season, the Raiders'offense will never have a chance to reach its full potential and in Oakland, that is a scary thought.
San Diego: What if Ron Rivera's defense doesn't improve?
The Chargers, desperate for a spark, fired Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator and replaced him with Rivera, the team's inside linebackers coach. San Diego had Super Bowl aspirations to start the season, but the team is struggling mightily at 3-5. The hope is Rivera, who was a successful defensive coordinator in Chicago, can get more out of the unit than Cottrell could and the Chargers will make a strong second-half playoff run. If the Chargers defense doesn't improve under Rivera, they likely won't make the playoffs and that is an extremely fearful situation in San Diego.