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Tuesday, December 15, 2009
How I See It: AFC West Stock Watch

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Falling

1. Elvis Dumervil's chances of sack record: Dumervil's chance of breaking Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5 sacks in a season is now a huge long shot after he was shut out in Indianapolis.

Dumervil has 15 sacks in 13 games. He still has a chance to become the eighth player since the NFL started counting sacks as an official statistic in 1982 to register 20 sacks in a season. He is two sacks from breaking Denver’s season record for sacks.

2. Matt Cassel's accuracy: Cassel, the Chiefs’ quarterback, appears to be tiring as the season progresses. He is getting sloppy with the ball as a result.

Earlier in the season, Cassel was very protective of the ball. He went 153 passes without an interception. However, he threw four interceptions against Buffalo Sunday. His last interception was a toss deep in Buffalo territory on the final play of the game. He threw two interceptions against the Broncos in Week 13.

3. Oakland’s offense: It is clear the Raiders play better with Bruce Gradkowski on the field instead of JaMarcus Russell. Gradkowski gave Oakland life in his four starts. However, when he went down in the third quarter with two knee injuries and Russell was inserted into the game, the offense imploded again.

While Russell didn’t do much to help his cause, the offense fell apart. He was sacked six times in less than a half of play. The energy Gradkowski gave the offense totally disappeared without him.

Marshall
Brandon Marshall caught 21 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's loss.
Rising

1. Brandon Marshall, Broncos receiver: Nobody in the league is rising like Marshall this week. He had 21 catches for 200 yards in a loss to Indianapolis on Sunday.

It was an NFL record for receptions in a game. His performance shows that Marshall is fully part of Josh McDaniels’ offense in Denver, so expect him to produce in big doses the rest of the season.

2. Chargers’ Super Bowl chances: The Chargers are playing at an elite level. They have won eight straight games and they are on pace for the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.

At this point, San Diego has to be considered, along with 13-0 Indianapolis, as the AFC’s best bet to advance to the Super Bowl. Other than the Chargers and the Colts, no team in the conference is currently playing at an elite level.

3. Vincent Jackson, Chargers receiver: After catching a combined eight passes in the past three games, Jackson got hot again in Week 14.

He had seven catches for 120 yards. It was his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season. Jackson made the play of the game as he caught a 39-yard pass from San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers on third-and-long in the fourth quarter. San Diego scored a touchdown on the next play to take a 17-10 lead in an eventual 20-17 win.