AFC West: Tim Graham

Who's the AFC West MVP?

December, 16, 2009
12/16/09
7:00
PM ET
Using AFC East blogger Tim Graham as inspiration, we’re going to look at the candidates if we were (and maybe we will in January) giving an AFC West MVP award.

Unlike the AFC East, we’re only going three deep. There are two playoff contenders in the AFC West, San Diego and Denver. So, we’re going to tighten the competition for the top player the division. Not that you need any prodding, but feel free to list your candidates in the comments section at the bottom of the post:
Rivers
Rivers

Philip Rivers, quarterback, San Diego

Rivers is not only a top candidate for the MVP of his division, but for the entire NFL. If Rivers -- who is a perfect 16-0 in December in his career -- finishes the month strong and things fall into place, he will get some votes.

Rivers is the best player in the AFC West and he is the unquestioned leader of the Chargers. He has this team, which has won eight straight games, playing at a very high level. Rivers rarely makes mistakes and he does enough each week to lead the team to a win.
Dumervil
Dumervil

Elvis Dumervil, linebacker, Denver

Dumervil has been Denver’s best player this season as it has made an unexpected playoff push. In his first season as a 3-4 linebacker, the fourth-year pro is thriving. Dumervil leads the NFL with 15 sacks. He is one sack from tying Denver’s team record. He makes Denver's defense dangerous and he has to be accounted for on every play.
Gates
Gates

Antonio Gates, tight end, San Diego

Gates is having perhaps his best season in what could be a Hall of Fame career. Fully bounced back from an injury-riddled 2008, Gates has been fabulous this season. He has 71 catches for 1,038 yards. His best season was in 2005 when he had 89 catches for 1,101 yards. At 29, Gates could be putting together his best numbers.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

AFC East blogger Tim Graham has caught the attention of San Diego star tight end Antonio Gates.

Last week, Graham quoted Randy Moss as saying NBA star LeBron James would be a better player in the NFL than Gates. It's the same Gates is who has been one of the best tight ends in recent memory.

In a radio interview, though, Gates (a college basketball player) took Moss' comments well.

No, you know what?" Gates said of Moss' words. He's talking about a phenom. To compare me to a guy who's somewhat of a phenom at what he does as a professional athlete
... I was at Kent State when LeBron was in high school, so I knew he
was an all-state football player. I knew the guy could play football.
Not a doubt in my mind that he would be able to come out here and play
at a high level. You can't say he's not tough because he is a tough
kid. It's just something that will always be remained to be seen. Guys
been trying to do the whole Antonio Gates story. ... But when you talk
about a guy like LeBron, the sky's the limit for his athletic ability
that he has."

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Unlike AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, I will not poke fun at AFC East blogger Tim Graham's choice of recreation. Just keep it safe, Tim.

But like Kuharsky, I do see some value in addressing Madden 10's player rankings. While it is not gospel, these rankings are a decent barometer of how a player is regarded. Some players who play (and some who used to play) in the AFC West, made the top 10 lists. Here's a look:

Quarterback: 7. Philip Rivers.

Running back: 3. LaDainian Tomlinson

Wide receiver: T-8. Brandon Marshall

Tight end: 3. Antonio Gates; T-9. Zach Miller

Defense: T-1. Nnamdi Asomugha.

Good for Asomugha. He was tied for first with superstars Albert Haynesworth, Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu. Oakland's shut-down cornerback is starting to get some much-earned credit.

It was also striking that several former AFC West players made the list, including Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, Jay Cutler and Jared Allen. This division sure could use the lost star power.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

ESPN.com AFC East blogger Tim Graham's piece on whether LeBron James could play in the NFL got me thinking. Taking James out of the mix, I aligned four NBA stars with each AFC West team, just for fun, of course.

Denver: Orlando center Dwight Howard

Why: The Broncos need big men on defense. Put Howard in Denver's 3-4 defense, and the first-team All-NBA center could make an instant impact.

Kansas City: Boston forward Kevin Garnett

Why: Garnett is one of the best defenders in the NBA. He is a superstar. The Chiefs need impact defensive players.

Oakland: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Why: The Raiders need offense and Bryant is instant offense. I have heard Bryant say he could have a Randy Moss impact as a receiver. That is exactly what Oakland needs, even though they didn't get it when they actually had Moss. Perhaps Bryant would be the answer to Oakland's receiving needs.

San Diego: New Orleans guard Chris Paul

Why: Paul is one of the great defenders in the game. The Chargers need safety help and the point guard could be the quarterback of San Diego's defense.

Hit the comment section with NBA players you think could be a fit for your favorite team.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Former players have made it a habit of taking shots at the Raiders in recent months.

Now, we've hit a new low. We have the parents of a former coach taking pots shots at the Raiders.

Seriously.

Our AFC East blogger Tim Graham spoke to former NFL coach Buddy Ryan and his ex-wife Doris while researching a column on their son, new Jets coach Rex Ryan, which posted Wednesday.

Rob Ryan, also the son of Buddy and Doris and the former Raiders defensive coordinator, departed from Oakland to Cleveland last month. According to his folks, it was about time. Both Buddy and Doris Ryan thought Rob's time in Oakland was detrimental to his career.

"Rob's time spent out in Oakland was a setback, but he'll overcome it," Buddy Ryan told Graham. "He's got a good job there with the Browns. He'll make that defense a lot better than it was."

Added Ryan's mother: "Rob's career was set back when he went to the Raiders," Doris Ryan said. "He went because it was a coordinator's job, but it was a mistake. He's out from under that now, and we'll hope he's back on track."

The Raiders have been through a lot in recent years, but the scorn of the Ryans takes the nuttiness to a new level.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Sunday, 12/21
Monday, 12/22