- Bill Williamson, ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter
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1. Philip Rivers, San Diego, quarterback: No player will be more closely watched in Week 9 than Rivers. It has been a rough season for Rivers. He looked to snap out of his funk with brilliant play Monday night. However, all that will be remembered is Rivers dropping the snap from center Nick Hardwick in the final minute at the Chiefs’ 15-yard line with the Chargers ready to kick a game-winning field goal. The Chiefs ended up winning in overtime.
2. Tebowmania: Even the most ardent Tim Tebow supporters are going to have a hard time putting a shine on this one. Tebow was terrible in a 35-point home loss to the Lions on Sunday. Tebow showed no improvement and he continued to have the same delivery, accuracy and pocket issues. This is Tebow’s chance to prove he belongs in the NFL as a starting quarterback. So far, it hasn’t been impressive.
3. Carson Palmer’s preparation time: It’s almost go time for the new Oakland starting quarterback. Palmer vowed to be ready for Sunday’s home game against the Broncos after he was rusty and shaky in a second-half performance against Kansas City in Week 7, five days after he became a member of the Raiders. Palmer worked diligently with his new receivers during the bye week, and he will have this week to get ready. The Raiders are counting on Palmer. He must be ready.
1. Tamba Hali, linebacker, Kansas City: The Chiefs’ pass-rusher is one of the better defensive players in the NFL. He may not be known by the casual fan, but he is a nightmare to deal with. He took over against the Chargers at times with two sacks Monday night.
2. Raiders in the standings: It has to feel good any time you gain ground while on your bye week. Thanks to the Kansas City’s win over San Diego, the idle Raiders moved into a three-way tie for first place with the Chiefs and Chargers at 4-3. It is the first time three teams have been tied for first place at 4-3 since 1989 in the old AFC Central.
3. Jon Baldwin, Kansas City, receiver: The Chiefs’ first-round draft pick looked great in his second NFL game. He had a team-high five catches for 82 yards and he had a 39-yard touchdown catch. Baldwin missed two months after suffering a thumb injury after a reported fight with teammate Thomas Jones. However, Baldwin is showing why the Chiefs drafted him, and the big target is giving the offense another dimension.
FALLING1. Philip Rivers, San Diego, quarterback: No player will be more closely watched in Week 9 than Rivers. It has been a rough season for Rivers.