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San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

12/14/08

With their playoff hopes dangling by a thread, the San Diego Chargers travel into extremely hostile territory to take on the division rival Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers, at 5-8, need to win their next 2 games, and hope that Denver loses their next 2, to set up a showdown for the division title in San Diego in Week 17. To get to that point, the Chargers will have to learn to win on the road where they have gone just 1-5 this year. Next week they will have to travel 3000 miles to face a desperate Tampa Bay team. As you may know, west coast teams (including Arizona) are just 3-22 this year in games played on the opposite coast. Anyway, they have to win this one first which should be no easy task.


The Chiefs may only be 2-11, and just 1-5 at home this year, but they have been playing fairly competitively as QB Tyler Thigpen gets his feet wet in his first NFL year as a starter. Since becoming the full-time starter in Week 8, Thigpen has completed nearly 60% of his pass attempts for 1534 yds, 12 TDís and just 4 INTís over a span of just 7 games. Of course heís only won one game, but other than the blowout loss to Buffalo, the losses have been by just 4, 3, 1, 10 and 7. And even in the blowout, they still scored 31 pts. Coming off of a 20-13 road win at Oakland in Week 13, the Chiefs were tied at 17-17 in Denver last week going into the 4th Q. Denver took a 7 pt lead with around 10 minutes left in the game, and the Chiefs had a chance to tie with a few minutes left but failed on a 4th and goal from the 5 yd line.

After losing 5 of 6 games going into Week 14 , the Chargers needed a win badly last week against the visiting Raiders. Oakland obliged by possibly playing their worst game of the season in a 34-7 loss. The Raiders managed just 163 yds of offense and just 9 FDís with the only points being scored on special teams by virtue of a 92 yd kickoff return.


San Diego picked off 3 Raider passes, but they didnít have to work very hard for them as they were basically thrown directly at defenders. The Chargers did finally put together a decent rushing attack as Tomlinson had 91 yds and a TD, and Darren Sproles, Jacob Hester and Rivers combined for another 67 yds. But they were again held to a pretty mediocre 3.4 ypc average, which has pretty much been the story lately. Rivers didnít have to work very hard for his 3 TD passes as he completed just 10 of 22 passes, but they were good for 214 yds. And a JaMarcus Russell fumble at the Raider 12 yd line pretty much gave the Chargers their rushing TD.

The Chiefs and Chargers met just 5 weeks ago in San Diego, with the Chargers getting a slim 20-19 win as a 9.5 pt favorite. The Chiefs led 13-6 at HT, and then went into the final quarter tied at 13-13. The Chargers drove 95 yds to go ahead by a TD with about 7 minutes left in the game, but Thigpen drove the Chiefs 60 yds for a score with just 23 seconds remaining for the apparent tie. But HC Herm Edwards decided to forego OT and try a 2-pt conversion for the win, which failed. Thigpen, throwing against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, was 27 of 41 for 266 yds and 3 TDís with 0 INTís.


The Chiefs defense held Charger RB LaDanianTomlinson to just 78 yds on 22 carries and did not allow a rushing TD. But they did allow Philip Rivers to pass for over 300 yds and 2 TDís, although they did pick him off twice.

Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City is one of the toughest venues in the NFL for visiting teams to play in, especially in December. The weather outlook is calling for temperatures in the 30ís, with a distinct possibility of light rain/freezing rain and moderately high winds in the range of 20-25 mph with higher gusts. In the last 27 meetings, Kansas City is 15-12 SU and 15-10-2 ATS vs the Chargers. In the last 11 meetings at Arrowhead Stadium between these teams, the Chiefs are 9-2 SU and 8-1-2 ATS. This is a huge divisional match-up that has been closely contested for years, and anytime you can grab points, especially close to a TD, itís wise to do so. With the Chargers struggling on the road this year, and with Thigpen already showing he can do well against the San Diego defense, I am going to grab the points in this one. The line is currently at Kansas City +6 and thatís my play.

 

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