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Friday, October 9, 2009
AFC West: Final Word

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

» AFC: East | West | North | South » NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


Five nuggets of knowledge about Sunday’s games:
 
  Ron Chenoy/US Presswire
  Champ Bailey was on top of his game in Sunday's win over Dallas.
Will Brady challenge Bailey? The first postseason loss of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era in New England came at the hands of Champ Bailey in January 2006. Brady challenged Bailey in the end zone with the Patriots driving. Bailey made a beautiful play on Brady’s eyes and intercepted the ball, bringing it all the way back to the New England 1-yard line. It set up a pivotal touchdown for Denver, and was Bailey’s signature play. It will be interesting to see if Brady is gun-shy from the memory. Bailey’s recent tape won’t help. He perfectly defended two Tony Romo passes in the end zone in the final 9 seconds of Denver’s 17-10 win over Dallas on Sunday.

Can the Raiders compete offensively? Playing the New York Giants’ defense is not usually a cure for the offensive blues. But that’s what Oakland is facing. The Raiders are in a horrendous offensive nosedive. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell is struggling, the running game is nonexistent, receivers are dropping balls and the offensive line is injured. So, obviously the statistics aren’t pretty. But here goes: Oakland hasn’t scored a touchdown in its past two games, settling for three field goals as it has been outscored 52-9. The Raiders haven’t amassed more than 200 yards of total offense in the past three games. Oakland has to get something going, but it may be difficult against the Giants’ swarming defense.

Maybe Charles is the answer: The Chiefs have to get something going in the run game. Larry Johnson has not been able to get anything established. He is averaging 2.5 yards a carry and many are wondering if Johnson, who turns 30 next month, is finished. He has not been helped by a weak offensive line, but something has to give. Perhaps second-year back Jamaal Charles deserves a look as the winless Chiefs take on Dallas. Charles has had his struggles, but the Chiefs have to find a spark now and look toward the future. Maybe giving Charles the rock is the solution.

Will the Clady streak continue? Denver left tackle Ryan Clady has been an amazing pro. The No. 12 overall draft pick in 2008 has not allowed a sack in his 20-game NFL career. It is the longest streak for a player to start his career since the NFL started tracking sacks allowed in 1994. Clady’s streak is the longest current streak in the NFL and the ninth longest in NFL history. The Boise State product has shut down many of the league’s sack stars and now he risks his streak against the Patriots.

Seymour faces a ghost: Even though Richard Seymour is now a Raider, he probably won’t enjoy seeing the New York Giants and quarterback Eli Manning on Sunday when Oakland visits the Giants. The last time Seymour met the Giants was in the Super Bowl in January 2008 when he was with New England. Manning, of course, broke the Patriots’ hearts and ended their perfect season with an upset win. It can’t bring back pleasant memories for Seymour.