AFC West Stock Watch

December, 20, 2011
12/20/11
1:00
PM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. Hue Jackson, Oakland, coach: Earlier in the season, Jackson predicted Oakland would win the division. Going into the Detroit game, Jackson called it a must win. However, Jackson helped contribute to his team’s loss to the Lions. He made some questionable decisions in an eventual 28-27 loss to Detroit that kept the Raiders from tying Denver for first place in the division. I highly doubt the rookie coach is in trouble, but he needs to find a way to stop a three-game losing streak in December.

2. Denver’s ball security: One of the reasons Denver turned its season around was because it held onto the ball. That did not happen Sunday as the Broncos lost three fumbles in their territory in the second quarter to help turn a nine-point lead into an 11-point deficit at halftime in a 41-23 loss to New England.

3. Faith in Oakland’s defense: Oakland’s defense is talented, but that's not enough. It has been giving up big plays all season and it completely collapsed Sunday as Detroit turned a 13-point deficit into a win by scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes to hurt Oakland’s playoff chances.

[+] EnlargeRomeo Crennel
AP Photo/Reed HoffmannRomeo Crennel had plenty of reasons to smile on Sunday after the Chiefs knocked off the Packers.
RISING

1. Division intrigue: Every team in the division is entering Week 16 with a chance to win the division as two games separate first-place Denver (8-6) and last-place Kansas City (6-8). Oakland and San Diego are both 7-7. Denver has the best chance, followed by Oakland, San Diego and Kansas City. But it’s pretty impressive that every team is still playing for something. It’s the only division in the NFL where each team is still alive in the division chase.

2. Romeo Crennel, Chiefs coach: What’s the best way for an interim coach to make a statement that he belongs in the big chair permanently? Ruin a perfect season for an opponent. That’s exactly what Crennel did Sunday in his first game as the interim coach after the Chiefs jettisoned Todd Haley last week. The Chiefs outplayed and shocked Green Bay 19-14. Crennel likely isn’t a lock to be the Chiefs’ coach next year, but he helped his cause immensely with this win.

3. Philip Rivers’ legacy: Forget all the talk about the Chargers' quarterback being done. He has been outstanding for the past month, and Sunday he became the third quarterback in history (joining Peyton Manning and Drew Brees) to throw for more than 4,000 yards in four straight seasons.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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