The San Diego Chargers, as most of you have already figured out, are a team trying to get its groove back while at the same time try to avoid a three-game losing streak. The Kansas City Chiefs are simply attempting to gain some momentum, evidenced by their 13-10 over the Minnesota Vikings last week. They bring identical 1-2 records into Qualcomm Stadium in what can be considered a “must-win” game for both teams.
The San Diego Chargers in seasons past, have been an offensive powerhouse. This year, the team is intact, offense-wise yet they seem to have difficulty scoring points (52 through 3 games). The nucleus is there, with star running back LaDanian Tomlinson (57-130-1, 14 catches, 99 yards, 1 TD; 1 passing TD). Quarterback Philip Rivers is having an OK year (68-for-97, 675 yards, 5 TD’s, 4 INT’s), but the undisputed offensive star at this point of the season is tight end Antonio Gates (27-297-2 TD’s). Their run defense is very good (ranked #8 overall), but it is their pass defense that has gotten them into trouble (249 yards allowed – ranked #22); despite those lofty numbers and rankings, they have a stout linebacking corps, led by Shawne Merriman (2 sacks) and Shaun Phillips (2.5 sacks).
The Chiefs are simply a team in search of offense (ranked #31 in scoring – 8.7 points a game). The only bright spot for the Chiefs is their old standby, TE Tony Gonzalez (16-167). RB Larry Johnson is yet to regain his old form (50-140), but that can be attributed to a degree by his signing a contract late and not participating in training camp. The team, however, does have a very good defense (Ranked #4 in total yards allowed, 5th in passing yards allowed, and 8th in points allowed). But unlike the Chicago Bears who had the luxury of having a defense that could carry them all season, the Chiefs don’t have that distinction. QB Damon Huard will need to step it up very soon, or you can expect to see the entrance of Brodie Croyle, the second-year QB from Alabama.
The Chiefs will need to step up their offense, most preferably on the passing game as this is the Chargers’ weak link. A good effort by Johnson would help towards the passing game opening up. Their defense will need to contain Tomlinson and Gates to have a fighting chance, as well. The Chargers simply need their offensive line to open some holes for Tomlinson and Rivers to be efficient in the passing game (read: get Gates and Tomlinson involved). I expect Tomlinson to eclipse 100 yards rushing against the Chiefs’ defensive line and Gates to have his usual productive game as the Chargers should go to 2-2 woth a win over the Chiefs.