Tuesday, December 27, 2011
AFC West Stock Watch
By Bill Williamson
1. Norv Turner’s revival: After the first three games of December, there was talk that Turner may be saving his job. The San Diego Chargers were 3-0 for the month and were dominating opponents. Well, the domination is over and so is Turner’s new-found job security. The Chargers were eliminated from the playoff picture with a 38-10 loss to the Detroit Lions Saturday. The Turner-is-going-to-be-fired watch is on full alert again.
Despite the loss to Buffalo, Tim Tebow and the Broncos will make the playoffs with a win over Kansas City Sunday.
2. Tim Tebow's ball security: Tebow’s best attribute was his ability not to turn the ball over. His glaring deficiencies had been excused for much of this season because Tebow wasn’t throwing interceptions. That is no longer the case. Tebow was picked off four times in a 40-14 loss at the Buffalo Bills. Two of the interceptions were brought back for touchdowns in a 19-second span. His vision appeared to be bad and he was rushing passes. If this continues, Tebow’s long-term sustainability as Denver's starter will be re-examined.
3. Kyle Orton in the red zone: One of the reasons why Denver moved away from Orton in favor of Tebow was Orton’s inability to make plays when it counted. That was a problem for Orton Saturday in the Kansas City Chiefs' 16-13 overtime loss to the Oakland Raiders. He threw two interceptions in Oakland territory, including one in the end zone. The Chiefs are 2-for-9 in the red zone in Orton’s two starts. If Orton has any chance of being the Chiefs’ quarterback in 2012, the free-agent-to-be must perform well in the red zone Sunday when he tries to knock his former team out of the playoffs.
1. Denver-Oakland tension: One of these two old rivals will snap a long playoff drought. Oakland hasn’t been to the playoffs in nine years and it’s been six years since Denver has made it. Denver will make the playoffs with a home win over the Chiefs. Oakland -- which also has wild-card hopes -- will win the division with a Denver loss and a home win over San Diego. Both of these games will be played at the same time Sunday and it will be a tremendous ending to an unpredictable season in the division.
2. Richard Seymour's impact: Oakland’s defensive lineman has been dealing with injuries and he hadn’t made much of an impact in the past several weeks. That changed in a big way at Kansas City. Seymour blocked two 49-yard field goal attempts by Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop, including one at the end of regulation.
3. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders, receiver: In his third season, the No. 7 overall pick in 2009 is putting together a strong statistical line. Heyward-Bey has 55 catches for 845 yards. He had 35 catches for 490 yards in his first 26 games. Finally, Heyward-Bey looks like a legitimate NFL receiver.