The Kansas City Chiefs find themselves in a position thought impossible following the team’s last loss to the San Diego Chargers in week 3, with a 0-3 record. The Chiefs find themselves with the opportunity to grab a share of the AFC West division lead with a win over the Chargers on Monday Night Football, Halloween edition.
Previously written off as dead by fans, national media and “experts” and late night talk shows alike, the Chiefs have found life behind head coach Todd Haley. A superstitious man, Haley has reverted to his trusty ‘ol ball cap, as dirty as it may look, the ball cap now has 14 consecutive wins when worn on game day. Haley has also vowed not to shave his beard until the Chiefs lose another game (as pictured in his Oct. 28 press conference above), another strategy which seems to be working well, as the Chiefs find themselves sitting at 3-3.
Superstitions are all nice and fun when a team is winning, but the biggest turning point in the 2011 NFL season for the Chiefs was the week 4 argument on the sidelines between Todd Haley and Matt Cassel. At that point, it seemed as if the entire Chiefs roster woke up and realized how poorly they were performing as a unit.
I’m on board with the rally beard… Not as gnarly as Haley’s, but my neck sure does itch… A small price to pay for a Chiefs victory!
On to the reasons the San Diego Chargers could beat the Kansas City Chiefs…
The Semi-Talented Mr. Cassel
Matt finds himself on this list once again. As a Chiefs fan, I really don’t know what to expect from him. One week he plays as if he actually deserved to be an AFC Pro-Bowl QB in 2010, the next week he plays as if he doesn’t deserve a roster spot in the AFL.
Matt, you showed signs of leadership when your team had zero, one and two wins… Now, prove you can lead when it really matters.
Cassel has five TDs and six INTs against San Diego in five career starts. He had a mini breakthrough in week 3 in San Diego, throwing for 2 TDs, but has generally struggled against San Diego. Cassel has thrown for 200 yards just once in five starts against the Chargers, and that came when he was a member of the New England Patriots in 2007.
Antonio Gates and Chargers Red Zone Offense
Gates is back and fully healthy. Maybe not fully healthy, but Gates is one of the biggest red zone weapons in all of football. Gates, coupled with the breakout of Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert’s goal line TD vulturing ability, reminiscent of Tommy Vardell & Jerome Bettis, means this San Diego offense will be tough to stop when/if they reach the 20 yard line.
Note: The Chiefs have allowed 12 passing touchdowns, 3rd most in the NFL.
Field Yates, Thoughts from the Field: I believe the Chiefs will win, but Monday will be a difficult match-up. The Chargers are a tough match-up for any team in the red zone, and Antonio Gates can cause any secondary strife
Ernie Padaon, BoltBeat.com: He (Antonio Gates) was missing in the games prior and he looks like he is back to full strength and he will be the threat in the red zone that was missing. With his return, we (Chargers) will be able to put up points again.
John Gennaro, BoltsFromtTheBlue.com: Ryan Mathews is really, really good (but might be hurt)? And Antonio Gates is back (but might be hurt)! Also, don’t forget that Philip Rivers is one of the league’s 5 best QBs (but might be hurt). Seriously though, each of those guys is healthy enough to play and could have a big game. If all three of them have big games, the Chiefs will need a small miracle to keep pace with the San Diego offense.
If you couldn’t tell by my post earlier this week, “Are the Chiefs a better team without Dexter McCluster?,” I am starting to get annoyed with the amount of time game planning and the amount of plays the Chiefs regularly put into a player who does not actually produce while on the field. With approximately 1/3 of the weekly plays designed for a player who gives the team 38 yards per game, maybe this is one of the reasons Matt Cassel looks so horrible at times.
Philip Rivers and the over/under 7 whines caught on camera
With as much as I like to joke about Rivers’s propensity to complain to officials, teammates and opponents, I do think he is one of the best QBs in the NFL, despite his slow start in 2011. Year after year, the Chargers start the season slow, but by the end, they are at or near the top of the AFC West. Early in 2011, the Chargers have been winning games, despite not playing well overall. If the Chargers start playing well, while already holding a division lead, the AFC West could be locked up early.
Ernie Padaon: He can’t continue on this decline that he has been. He had been playing decently in the games prior to the Jets game and just was not able to punch in the ball in the Red Zone. If he was able to put up more points, then there would be no talk about this struggling team.
Time of Possession (ToP)
The Chargers lead the NFL in time of possession at 33:56 per game. ToP is not something I normally put a ton of weight on, however, while looking over the Chargers’s defensive stats, I noticed the Chargers are 3rd best in the NFL against the pass, allowing only 175.7 yards per game.
In general, these types of stats are skewed. Many times, when a team doesn’t allow many passing yards, it is because teams are running the ball extremely well against them and controlling the clock, rather than attempting to throw.
Teams have only attempted 165 passes against the Chargers, least in the NFL. Naturally, I looked to the defensive rushing stats – Chargers are 21st against the rush, allowing 121.7 yards per game and a 4.7 yards per carry average, 7th highest in the NFL. 4.7 yards per carry allowed is a pretty large number, so I decided to look at the Chargers time of possession, and there it was, the Chargers lead the NFL.
If the Chiefs find themselves behind late in the game, there may not be an opportunity for a comeback on Halloween night.
My Chiefs v. Chargers Prediction
BetUS.com currently has the Chiefs as 3 point underdogs.
Through many conversations with San Diego bloggers, writers and sports radio personalities this week, it seems the Charger fan base has no faith the team can win this game… That seems odd to me, but then again, San Diego sports fans have always been known as some of the most fair-weather fans in the country.
Christopher Ello, Xtra Sports 1360 AM, San Diego: There aren’t too many people around here in San Diego who think the Chargers have a chance in hell to win this game…..
Chargers CB Antone Cason received a 3 TD beat-down from Plaxico Burress and the New York Jets in week 7… Dwayne Bowe is better than Burress. If Cason did not required psychological help after week 7, he will most definitely need it after Bowe administers round two of the beat-down… Bowe will well-outperform Burress’s 4 catches for 25 yards. Topping 3 TDs will, however, be difficult.
The Jets laid the groundwork for the Chiefs… And although the Chiefs do not really posses a strong two tight end set, fans may have already gotten a glimpse of the Halloween night game plan, as Jonathan Baldwin was used as an H-back in week 7 against the Oakland Raiders.
Although relatively unsuccessful, I liked the early aggressive down-field approach from the Chiefs offense against the Raiders in week 7. The Chargers, unlike the Raiders, are a team who can move the ball through the air. Aggressive offensive play calling early could be the difference in this game for the Chiefs.
On Halloween, I like the Chiefs to get their 4th win and a tie for the division lead.
Kansas City Chiefs 27 – San Diego Chargers 21
What are your thoughts on the game? Let us know in the comments section below!