Heading to San Diego for their week 14 matchup against the Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs players, coaches and the entire Chiefs Kingdom find themselves thankful to the Oakland Raiders, who rolled through the Chargers in week 13 by a score of 28-13.
The Chiefs week 13 win over the Denver Broncos coupled with the Oakland Raiders win over the Chargers gave Kansas City a comfortable two game lead in the AFC West with only four games to play in the 2010 season.
The importance of San Diego’s week 13 loss was further amplified Wednesday afternoon, as the Chiefs announced QB Matt Cassel had underwent surgery to remove his appendix earlier in the day. The surgery is a simple (for a surgeon) operation that rarely results in complications, but the Chiefs have been preparing backup QB Brodie Croyle to start in his place this week in San Diego.
On to it… 5 Reasons the Chargers could beat the Chiefs:
5: #5 Rush Defense
Although they allowed 251 rushing yards in week 13 against the Oakland Raiders, the Chargers are ranked #5 (dropped from #2) in the NFL against the rush.
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The Raiders are almost strictly and up-the-gut rushing team, while the Chiefs have the tendency to bump outside where the run plays into the strength of the Chargers defense, the outside linebackers.
4: Finding a way to get it done
By now every Chiefs fan knows about San Diego’s propensity to come on strong down the stretch to win the AFC West. Week 13′s loss may have hindered this ability, but I will not feel comfortable until the final whistle sounds in week 17.
3: Matt Cassel (Brodie Croyle)
Making this list for reasons other than his on-field performances or “what we need to see from Cassel is…” reasons, Cassel’s mid-week appendectomy could leave him watching this game from the sidelines. Although playing on Sunday cannot further hurt Cassel, doctors say that after approximately three days, the remaining recovery and physical ability is all about personal pain threshold.
I, for one, believe Matt Cassel should play in this game. This is not an injury/surgery that will directly affect Cassel’s ability to throw the ball or run. I do not believe Cassel has yet proven himself as a true leader on this team, and playing well while in pain would go a long way to winning over skeptical fans, teammates and coaches.
So, if Cassel cannot play on Sunday, the Cassel haters will get their opportunity to watch Brodie Croyle, who is 0-9 as a starter in five seasons with the Chiefs. Croyle has thrown 8 TDs and 8 INTs as a member of the Chiefs.
2: Philip Rivers
I have said many times (maybe not on Chiefs Command) I believe Philip Rivers is one of the best QBs in the NFL. No matter how much I hate watching his incessant whining and cockiness on the field, the guy goes out and gets the job done.
Even without Vincent Jackson for most of the season and a banged up Antonio Gates, Rivers continues to make plays in the passing game week in and week out.
He is a true leader of his team, and no matter how much I hate his on-the-filed whining and complaining to officials, he proved to his teammates and fans he is a true leader in November of 2006 when he led comebacks in back-to-back weeks against the Cincinnati Bengals in week 10 and the Denver Broncos in week 11 (read these game recaps and look through the stats). That confidence in the leadership abilities of your quarterback never goes away.
Someone email this to Matt Cassel.
1: Game planning and preparation
For the Chiefs, I believe this is where the game will be won or lost.
With Brodie Croyle potentially starting at QB, I believe the Chiefs MUST force the Chargers to respect the pass and not stack 8-10 (yes, I said 10) in the box to stop the run. I do not want to see the Chiefs open the game with rush for no gain, rush for 2 yards, incomplete on 3rd and eight, then punt… ala Mike Solari in 2006 against the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs. The Colts focused on stopping the run, and the Chiefs never gave them a reason to respect the passing game. Following the opening possession, the game was over for the Chiefs.
Yes, I know Charlie Weis is not Mike Solari, but the Chiefs MUST make the Chargers respect the pass… I would love to see the Chiefs open the game with play-action, going deep… Very deep, even if it is well overthrown. Force the safeties and defensive scheme to respect the deep-threat possibility from the opening play, and control them the rest of the game, regardless of who starts at quarterback.
On defense, the Chiefs must be prepared for the passing game. As mentioned previously, Philip Rivers can make big-time plays no matter who is running routes for the Chargers. The news/assumptions that Antonio Gates may miss week 14 should not be a signal to the Chiefs linebackers and safeties it is time for a mental break heading into week 14.
I like the Chargers in this game regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Chiefs. Although it appears (through the San Diego media) fans have given up on the Chargers, I am not falling for it. Philip Rivers has etched himself in the class of the NFL elite and can be the difference-maker every single week.
I expect Rivers to hit 300 yards through the air and toss at least 2 TDs, if not 3. I believe this game will be closer than the 7 point spread listed by BetUS.com, but I don’t think Croyle or Cassel has enough to bring the Cheifs from behind, which is where I believe they will be playing from.
Luckily for the Chiefs, week 14 cannot result in a lead change in the AFC West. Thank you again, Raiders!
San Diego Chargers 24 – Kansas City Chiefs 20
What is your predicted outcome and score?
Special thanks to:
Ernie Padaon of BoltBeat.com