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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
AFC West Stock Watch

By Bill Williamson

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

FALLING

1. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City, receiver: The Pro Bowl receiver has taken heat for appearing not to make an effort to catch a pass in the final seconds of a 13-9 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday night. It was intercepted, thus ending the game. Bowe’s effort has been questioned in the past. He is a free agent after the season. The Chiefs have been aggressive in re-signing their own players. It is interesting that Bowe has not been re-signed. Plays like this may be a reason why.

2. Philip Rivers’ season: It just doesn’t seem like the San Diego quarterback is going to have a turnaround that will help change his team’s season. Rivers didn’t make any killer mistakes Sunday against Denver, but he was unable to be a positive difference-maker, either.

3. Rivers’ protection: A big reason Rivers has been unable to be a positive difference-maker is he is getting pounded. The Chargers are without six offensive linemen. They are playing players who are bottom-of-the-roster types. Rivers will be lucky if he stays upright.

RISING

Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow rallied the Broncos to a victory Sunday over the Chargers.
1. Hue Jackson, Oakland, coach: The Raiders’ first-year head coach was getting heat when the Raiders dropped back-to-back home games to Kansas City and Denver and fell to 4-4. There was talk that the honeymoon was over for Jackson. However, Oakland has won three straight games and is looking like a strong playoff contender. Jackson deserves credit for righting the ship.

2. Denver’s playoff chances: Even if the Raiders win the division, the Broncos are in the playoff mix. Denver is 6-5 and trails Oakland by a game in the AFC West race. Denver is also a game off the pace for an AFC wild-card spot. Yes folks, it is very feasible that this division places two teams in the playoffs.

3. Kyle Orton, Kansas City, quarterback: A week ago, Orton was a rusty player on Denver’s bench, shrinking in the shadow of Tim Tebow. Now, Orton is in Kansas City and will likely start Sunday at Chicago. Denver gave him a chance to play again by waiving him last week and Kansas City jumped at the chance to have a veteran option instead of the inexperienced Tyler Palko in light of Matt Cassel’s season-ending injury. Now, Orton will have a five-game audition for the entire league. He is a free agent after the season.