Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC West [Print without images]

Thursday, December 29, 2011
One player to watch

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

One player to watch from each AFC West team in Week 17:

Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow, quarterback: It’s been all about Tebow in Denver as the Broncos fought their way into the playoff picture. It won’t change as Denver tries to get into the playoffs with a win at home over Kansas City. Tebow is coming off a miserable performance at Buffalo, in which he threw four interceptions. Tebow must be better Sunday. If he is terrible in the game and Denver doesn’t make the playoffs, his future with the Broncos could be clouded.

Kansas City Chiefs, Kyle Orton, quarterback: Tebow replaced Orton in Week 5 as Denver’s starter and the Broncos cut him in November. He was claimed by the Chiefs and we’ve all wondered if the Week 17 matchup in Denver would give Orton the chance to get back at his former team. Not only does Orton have an opportunity to knock the Broncos out of the playoffs, he is also playing for his own future. A win over Denver would give Orton a 2-1 record as the Chiefs’ quarterback and they could be interested in bringing back the pending free agent as their starter in 2012.

Oakland Raiders, Michael Bush, running back: Whether or not Darren McFadden comes back, Bush will be a big factor against the Chargers as the Raiders try to stay alive. Bush ran over the Chargers in November where he had a season-high 157 yards on 30 carries against  in Oakland’s win in San Diego. Expect the Raiders to give Bush a chance to do the same thing in this game as he just 89 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season. While Bush hasn’t had more than 78 yards per game in his last five games, perhaps a second date with the Chargers will ignite him.

San Diego Chargers, Vincent Jackson, receiver: This could be Jackson’s final game as a Charger as he is a free agent at the end of the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jackson is franchised again, but it depends on who will be making the decisions in San Diego. If general manager A.J. Smith is replaced, maybe the new regime will want to give Jackson a new deal. He is having a strong season despite injuries and has 58 catches for 1,077 yards and eight touchdowns.