The last-place Kansas City Chiefs head to San Diego for a critical mid-season AFC West showdown with the Chargers Thursday night. Find out how this matchup breaks down with our tale of the tape.
Lost. That's the word that best describes the Chiefs offense right now. Kansas City has scored a grand total of 32 points over its last three games, losing all three by a combined 41-point margin. The Chiefs have done a terrific job of phasing out their biggest offensive threat, RB Jamaal Charles, as he's carried the ball only 17 times in the last two weeks. The Chiefs’ QB competition is anything but heated, with Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn taking turns stinking it up.
The weather can take some of the blame for the Chargers’ problems on offense last week, but not all of them. Norv Turner has said that he plans on scaling back the offense and that seemed apparent in Cleveland, as the Bolts ran the ball 34 times and dinked and dunked their way to only six points in a losing effort. Quarterback Philip Rivers is in the midst of his worst season to date, throwing for just over 1,600 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Last week's game marked the first time since the season opener that he didn't throw an interception.
Edge: San Diego
The Chiefs were supposed to be much better defensively this season after a brutal, injury-plagued 2011 campaign, but that hasn't been the case so far. They've given up at least 24 points in six of seven games, allowing over 30 points on four different occasions. Away from home, they've been torched for a whopping 7.1 yards per play. In last week's 10-point loss to the Raiders, Kansas City failed to record a single sack but did hold Carson Palmer to just 14 completions on 28 pass attempts.
San Diego's defense got off to a terrific start, holding its first two opponents to just 24 points combined. It's been all downhill from there, however, as the Chargers have given up at least 20 points in four of their last five contests. They did limit the Browns to only seven points last week, but Cleveland went the ultra-conservative route after scoring an early touchdown and given the poor weather conditions. San Diego is averaging less than a sack per game at home this season.
Edge: San Diego
With their offense struggling, the Chiefs would love to get a boost from their special teams Thursday night. They've been solid returning punts, averaging over 12 yards per return, but fall just under the league average in terms of kick return yardage, averaging 22.5 ypr. They've yet to notch a return touchdown but have given up one. Field goal kicker Ryan Succop has been perfect when called upon, going 8 for 8 on field goal attempts.
The Chargers continue to give Eric Weddle punt returning duty, even though he's given them little to no production in that department. Perhaps he'll find some room to run against a Chiefs team that is allowing over 14 yards per punt return. San Diego has been slightly better returning kickoffs, but is missing the presence of Eddie Royal. Nick Novak has been an adequate replacement for Nate Kaeding, making good on 7 of 8 field goal attempts over the last four games.
Word on the street
"The lead, it's very important, especially because we've never had a lead this year. It would be very important to start off a game and especially good since we're playing on Thursday night on national TV." -- Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles on the fact the team hasn't held a lead this season.
“You’re coaching on a week-to-week basis. I’m coaching to do the best job I can to get our team ready to play Kansas City. All those other conversations, they’re going to take place. You know they’re going to take place.” - Chargers head coach Norv Turner when asked about his job security.