Tonight in San Diego the AFC West will have the privilege of kicking off the month of November as well as week nine of the NFL schedule when the Chargers play host to the Kansas City Chiefs in front of a national audience on the NFL Network. It’s not the greatest matchup we’ve seen on Thursday night this season, but since it’s the only game in town, let’s take a more in-depth look at the Chiefs and the Chargers.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
There’s a lot on the line for the Chargers, as their season could be on the verge of spiraling out of control. After blowing a 24-0 halftime lead to the Broncos, San Diego got an extra week off to prepare for its trip to Cleveland, only to lay an egg against the Browns in a 7-6 loss. The Chargers desperately need to stop the bleeding and a second straight loss to a one-win team would be disastrous for their playoff hopes.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are playing mostly for pride at this point. Recovering from a 1-6 start to make any kind of noise this season would be unlikely, but if it were going to happen, taking on the reeling Chargers is a good place to start.
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KANSAS CITY OFFENSE VS. SAN DIEGO DEFENSE
The San Diego defense doesn’t deserve too much of the blame for last week’s loss to the Browns, giving up only seven points, even though the NFL’s second best rush defense failed to contain Cleveland’s Trent Richardson. The Charger’s defense will get a chance for redemption this week as they go up against the third best rushing offense in the NFL. The leader of that rushing attack, Jamaal Charles, received only five carries in last week’s loss to the Raiders; however, for the season Charles is averaging five yards per carry.
The Chiefs will need to get back to focusing on running the ball to give themselves a chance, as the quarterback position remains a question mark. Matt Cassel will start after replacing Brady Quinn last week after Quinn suffered a possible concussion. Quinn had taken over after Cassel suffered a concussion the previous week. Cassel threw for 251 yards in a week four loss to the Chargers, but was hurt by three interceptions, a problem he’ll have to rectify if the Chiefs are going to have any chance to split the season series against San Diego.
SAN DIEGO OFFENSE VS. KANSAS CITY DEFENSE
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This matchup hinges on the play of San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, who followed up his six-turnover game against Denver in week six by completing just 18 of 34 passes for 154 yards last week against Cleveland. Following that abysmal effort against the Browns, Rivers has led the Charger’s offense to just six points in its last six quarters, so there’s nowhere to go but up.
As for the Kansas City defense, the Chiefs are giving up an average of 30 points per game, and they gave up 37 to the Chargers back in week four. If ever there was an opportunity for Rivers to get back on track, this is it. However, if Rivers struggles again the Chiefs have enough talent in the secondary to make him pay in the form of turnovers, much like Denver’s defense did a few weeks ago, which could give the Chiefs the chance to pull an upset.
Let’s face it, neither team is looking good right now, and this could easily turn into an ugly game that neither side deserves to win. With Rivers struggling as bad as he ever has before and the Chiefs not riding Charles the way they should be, this should be a low-scoring game that will be determined by which team makes fewer mistakes.
With their season unraveling and the pressure mounting, especially in front of the home crowd, it will be Rivers and the Chargers that fold and make more costly mistakes. This one ends up: Kansas City 16, San Diego 10.