Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Tuesday, November 8, 2011
AFC West Stock Watch

By Bill Williamson

» NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. The Chiefs' mojo: The Kansas City Chiefs went from sky high to wondering what went so terribly wrong in a matter of six days. The Chiefs followed up a thrilling overtime win over the San Diego Chargers on Halloween night with a 31-3 home loss to previously winless Miami on Sunday. This was not a matter of the Chiefs being flat coming off a big win; they were just flat-out smoked, ending a four-game win streak.

Philip Rivers
While Philip Rivers did have four touchdowns and amassed 385 yards, he also threw two costly interceptions.
2. Darrius Heyward-Bey's role with the Oakland Raiders: The third-year receiver has developed into a solid player in the past month and he has been the Raiders' most reliable receiver this season after struggling in his first two. However, Heyward-Bey didn’t play until the second half Sunday and had only one ball sent his way. He had no catches. Yet, newly signed 34-year-old receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh played a bit. The long-term wellness of this offense will benefit more from the further development of Heyward-Bey rather than the stop-gap contribution from Houshmandzadeh.

3. Philip Rivers' ability to play a clean game: It seems the concern over Rivers' play heightened after every game. Sunday, he threw three interceptions against Green Bay in a 45-28 loss. Two of the interceptions were returned for touchdowns and the third ended a potential game-tying drive in the final minute. Rivers has thrown 14 interceptions this season after throwing 22 in the past two seasons combined.

RISING

1. The intrigue in the division race: We don’t know yet if the AFC West is a good division, but it is tight. The second half of the seasons is set up for a serious race as Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego are all tied for first-place at 4-4. All three teams lost at home Sunday. Denver is still very much in the race at 3-5.

2. Tim Tebow’s leash in Denver: Whether he has been impressive as a pure passer or not, Tebow is 2-1 in three starts this season. The Broncos reportedly are not going to have a long leash on Tebow. But if the Broncos win, he will buy more time.

3. Willis McGahee's value in Denver: McGahee was a big reason Denver won by two touchdowns at Oakland. McGahee had 163 yards on 17 carries, including second-half touchdown runs of 60 and 24 yards. It was his first game back after he missed a game with a broken hand. McGahee, 30, is by far outplaying third-year Denver back Knowshon Moreno, the No. 12 pick of the 2009 draft.