The San Diego Chargers let a BIG game slip away from them. They played like the confident teams of seasons past in the first half, and in the second half showed no confidence or ability to sustain or stop drives.
In a recent Article, SB Nation editor Matt Conner pointed out that the Kansas City Chiefs have to be confident going into the rematch against the Chargers this Monday night, on Halloween. He correctly notes that there are some matches that appear at this point and time to favor the Chiefs.
He leverages an article by Michael Lombardi at NFL.com, where Lombardi points out that the Jets ability to cover Tight End Antonio Gates, as well as remove Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson from the game allowed the Jets to dictate the pace of the second half.
Lombardi goes on to say what all Charger fans are feeling. The Jets game put a scare in the collective Bolt Faithful. He wrote “This game has to scare Chargers fans. The defense was not able to get after Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez or control of the line of scrimmage in the run game. The Chargers also looked slow on defense. Takeo Spikes might help with leadership, but he is slow and struggles to make plays in space.” I wish I could refute this but the fact is I noted that with a few exceptions The Chargers Line Backers corps looks slow.
If they are slow, that means the onus is on the Chargers secondary to cover mid field as well as deep threats. Both are places that the now surging Chiefs could exploit. Though I can’t refute either writer, I am not willing to go quietly into that great beyond and throw dirt on the Chargers young season. Hell no!
While the Chargers have struggled, let’s be frank. They have had yet another slow start; they have had slow starts all the way back to the reign of Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer. The difference is this season, they have found a way to win the majority of those slow start games.
I can’t fault anyone for being worried for the future of the season, but I will not borrow troubles and consider a majority of the remaining games lost because the Chargers let a heart breaker slip away from them in New York.
Breaking Down the Chiefs
The Chiefs are on a roll. They have won their last two games, including the shut out of the Oakland Raiders where the Chiefs defense registered six (6) interceptions. That is an impressive number, even given that the Raiders were using a back up QB, and the rusty tin-man QB Carson Palmer who had very little time to prepare.
The Chiefs are definitely on an upswing. They are getting their receivers involved more on the offensive side of the ball and their secondary is starting to play with confidence. Given that, they are not yet matching their offensive output of a year ago when the shocked the NFL and won the AFC West.
Chiefs Corner Back Brandon Flowers earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance against the Raiders. It was arguably one of his best games as a pro. However the Chargers will be starting Philip Rivers, and while Rivers has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns (9 interceptions, 7 touch downs), he is not new to the system and I do not see him tossing the ball to the red shirts six times this game.
That means the Chiefs Offense will have to step up. They managed only 14 point in their 28 point win over the Raiders. The Chiefs rank 26th in over all offense, they are 30th in passing. Not gaudy numbers to say the least. However their strength again this year is rushing the ball. They currently rank 7th in rushing in the league and it is their bread and butter offensively. They are getting better at using the run to set up short passes.
Defensively they are still young and fast, but not playing stellar ball yet. I do not put a lot of weight on their 6 interception game, though I am not foolish enough to entirely discount it either. They rank 18th overall in defense, 17th against the pass and 25th against the run.
Given those numbers, I can see how the Jets game might give a Chiefs fan a boost in confidence, however this is a divisional game and I would not think fans of either team are overly confident in what their team will do.
Breaking Down the Chargers
Let’s face it, they stunk it up in New York during the last 30 minutes of the game. Criticism is deep enough to be evenly spread over all the organization including players, coaches, and management.
Philip Rivers is not playing… well… Philip Rivers like. I keep expecting that he will get over the slump… I know he will the question is when. Lets face the facts, to get over the slump, his receivers will have to step up and make more plays. Malcom Floyd seems to get injured in every game he plays. Though no one can say he isn’t a skilled, tall, and athletic receiver, I am questioning his impact on the team because of his durability. Not an easy thing to say as a man who is a fan of M80.
Vincent Jackson is a real threat, and that is probably why he is drawing double and triple coverage. VJ’s impact has been lessened as teams play two deep coverage, trying to take VJ out of the game and daring Rivers, and the remaining players to beat them.
The Chargers still produce offensively, not matching their numbers of the last few season, but the are 8th overall in offense, 7th in passing and 14th in rushing. The run game will be big in KC on Monday night, but the question is if the Chargers will have Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert. Both came out of last Sundays game against the Jets with injuries.
That means that third year player, Curtis ‘Boonah’ Brinkley should get some playing time. Brinkley spent his first season with the Chargers on the non-football related injury list after suffering gun shot wounds in the off season. Last season he spent time between the practice squad and the active roster. Brinkley could end up getting some carries Monday night.
The Chargers defensively have had some really good moments coupled with some really bad ones. The Chargers are not getting consistent pressure on the Quarterback. When they do pressure the opposing QB good things happen for them. When they don’t, the QB has time to scan the field and pick his play.
The Chargers defense did play very slow at times against New York. Did the Jets expose a crucial weakness of this unit? That is a real possibility. Overall, they rank 5th defensively, 3rd against the pass and 21st against the rush.
This game comes down to strength versus weakness.
In the jets warm up Jets Running Back, LaDainian Tomlinson told his team that the game came down to strength (pointing at the players in the huddle) and weakness (pointing across the field at the Chargers). Finesse (Chargers) vs. Power (Jets). I wish I could argue or show some righteous indignation at this, but until the Chargers disprove this I cant refute it.
The Chargers strength offensively is still the pass. The Chiefs strength defensively is the pass.
The Chargers passing attack is better that the Chiefs pass defense. It is also better that the Raiders passing attack the Chiefs victimized. The X factor here is actually the Chargers rushing attack. Can Boonah provide a lift to the run game, and give the other backs time to convalesce? If he can the Chargers should have an advantage here.
Chargers Passing Ranking Offensively: 7
Chiefs Passing Ranking Defensively: 17
Edge: San Diego
The Chiefs rushing attack is their strength. The rush defense is the weakness of the San Diego Defense. The Chiefs offensive line can still open holes, and will challenge the Chargers Defensive front three. The Chargers have not given their Defensive line a lot of support so far this season and if they cant plug the lanes against the Chiefs it could prove disastrous for the Chargers.
Chiefs Rushing Ranking Offensively: 7
Chargers Rushing Ranking Defensively: 21
Edge: Kansas City
As mentioned before Curtis ‘Boonah’ Brinkley is an unknown. The Chiefs can’t really game plan for him, and we have no idea how many carries he will get.
But the biggest X factor is the home field advantage. Arrowhead stadium, Halloween, Monday Night Football, and some of the most vocal, rabid, and supportive fans in the league is the true X factor. This provides a huge advantage for the Chiefs in my opinion.
I am very unsure and uncomfortable on this one. Will the real San Diego Chargers please stand up, please stand up, please stand up? I do not know which team will take the field in KC, the first half, aggressive, and confident team, or the second half team that is dressed as the cowardly lion.
I have to say, this is a game the Chargers SHOULD win. This is a game either team COULD win. They are divisional rivals and that means it will be a hard fought game, regardless of what the last game of either team was played like.
I shakily call for the Chargers to right the ship and win in a big confidence booster:
Chargers 31, Chiefs 21