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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
AFC West Stock Watch

By Bill Williamson

FALLING

The run game in San Diego: The Chargers offense is lethargic, and a big reason why is the inability to run the ball successfully. In Sunday's loss to Cincinnati, the Chargers simply gave up. They ran the ball 11 times in 59 offensive plays. Wasn’t Ryan Mathews supposed to be a big part of this offense?

Oakland’s offense: The Raiders are strange offensively. They rack up the passing yards, but they don’t score much. Carson Palmer has thrown for the seventh-most yards in the league -- yet Oakland is tied for 23rd in scoring, at just 19.6 points per game. Obviously, the passing yardage means little.

The Chargers in general: The Chargers are simply floundering. They have lost seven of the past eight games and are one loss from registering their first losing season since 2003. They have blown four double-digit leads in the second half and just look incapable of winning.

RISING

Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs coach: Crennel might not be the Chiefs coach in a month. Right now, it doesn’t matter. Crennel deserves so much credit for leading his team to a victory Sunday over Carolina in an unfathomable situation. Arguably, no NFL coach has ever faced the emotional game-day challenge Crennel did Sunday. A day after he watched starting linebacker Jovan Belcher take his own life after killing his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, Crennel rallied his team for its second victory of the season. Crennel is a good man, a strong man, and it was on display Sunday.

The chance for help coming to the AFC West: Kansas City is on pace for the No. 1 pick in next year's draft, the Raiders are pace for the No. 3 pick and the Chargers are on pace for No. 6. The Chiefs will look at quarterback (not a great class) first, Oakland will take the best defender available (in a strong defensive class) and the Chargers will likely look for offensive-line help first.

Peyton Manning’s influence in Denver: There is no doubting Manning’s importance to this team. It was on full display Sunday when the Broncos clinched the AFC West title in Manning’s first season in Denver. He does so much: He talked coaches into challenging a call, and they won the challenge. He successfully quieted the raucous crowd when it was doing the wave, and he hit defensive tackle Mitch Unrein for a touchdown pass after weeks of teaching the 291-pounder to beat safeties on pass routes.