The Kansas City Chiefs have won three games in a row with the last being what might be a historic win over Peyton Manning in Denver. Not historic as if it were a playoff game, but historic in that it might end up being the last start of Manning’s brilliant Hall-of-Fame career. Now the Chiefs must gather themselves together and head out to San Diego for a 3:05 p.m. CT game on Sunday. The game will be televised on CBS (KCTV5 locally) and broadcast over the Chiefs Radio Network or 1340-AM La Gran D Radio for the Spanish-speaking audience.
While the Chiefs may have gotten a bit of revenge against Manning last week, there’s another AFC West quarterback that has enjoyed nearly as much success against KC as Manning has – Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers – that is on deck Sunday and won’t lie down and take a beating. Here are my thoughts on five things the Chiefs must do to beat the Chargers and get their record back to an even 5-5:
1. Establish the running game. Charcandrick West has done a terrific job filling in for the injured Jamaal Charles and is averaging 138 yds from scrimmage and has four touchdowns in the last three games. Pounding the ball with West, along with back-ups Spencer Ware and possibly Knile Davis, will keep the game clock moving, wear down the Chargers defense for big play potential late in the game, plus keep San Diego’s main weapon, Rivers, on the sideline where he cannot hurt the Chiefs.
2. Do not extend the Chargers offensive series by giving them cheap first downs with penalties. There’s nothing worse than stopping a team on third-and-long to force a punt and then have the yellow flags hit the ground to give them first downs. The Chiefs have been aggressive on defense during this win streak which is good, but they can’t be stupid. The Chargers will throw the ball 40-plus times and the target for KC should be fewer than four defensive holding and pass interference calls.
3. Make Rivers uncomfortable in the pocket. The Chiefs swept the Chargers last year and sacked him nine time in the two games. Despite getting a couple of their veteran linemen back from injury this week, San Diego’s line has not played well all year and the Chiefs front seven need to make sure they keep up their level of play over the last three weeks. Rivers is fairly immobile and the Chiefs know where he’ll be at all time, but the trick is to get to him before he dumps it off to Danny Woodhead or Antonio Gates.
4. Keep an eye on Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates. Rookie running back Melvin Gordon is having a disappointing season so Danny Woodhead carries the load in the backfield for San Diego. Antonio Gates almost qualifies for the Hall-of-Fame just by what he’s done against the Chiefs in his career. The Chiefs needs to make sure these two don’t go off and have career games by hitting them every time they touch the ball and wrap them up for few yards after catches. Make San Diego dink and dunk to move the ball and sooner or later, River will turn it over.
5. Keep bad teams losing. The Chargers are not a good team and even when they play well, they can’t do it for a full four quarters. During this three game winning streak for the Chiefs, they have outscored their opponents 52-6 in the first half. It will be a beautiful Sunday afternoon right before a short work week in sunny Southern Cal when the two teams kick the ball off. The Chargers, much like their fans, might want to get an early start on Thanksgiving week if the Chiefs can jump out to another big lead.
Bottom Line: My heart – the part that has been a Chiefs fan for 50 of my 53 years on Earth, thinks this will be a KC blowout of a San Diego team that is wondering where they will be playing next year and who their coach might be. The Chiefs Examiner in me says that every game between these two teams seems to end up in the 20’s and the game is decided by a field goal or less. Since this is for publication, I won’t be a wussy and I’ll lean towards the fan in me. The game stays close into halftime, but KC forces turnovers while giving up none in the second half and the game ends with Chase Daniel at QB and it is non-injury-related.
Chiefs – 38, Chargers – 16