Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
This is a very important AFC West match-up for the Chargers this
week. With Denver winning on Thursday night, the Chargers are now a
game and a half back of the 1st place Broncos, and need this game to
remain just a game back. With games at Pittsburgh and vs
Indianapolis on deck, San Diego cannot afford to overlook the
Chiefs, who have historically played them very tough.
Due to injuries to their #’s 1 and 2 QB’s, Kansas City has had to go
with Tyler Thigpen, a 2 year pro out of Coastal Carolina who had
only attempted 6 passes prior to this year. So far this year, he is
completing just 51% of his passes (77 of 151) for 836 yds, 5 TD’s
and 4 INT’s, and he has been sacked 12 times. However, after a shaky
start, he may have finally started to get comfortable, as in his
last 2 games he has completed 64% of his 61 attempts for 444 yds, 3
TD’s and 0 INT’s. Those performances actually gave his team chances
to win both games, as 2 weeks ago the Jets needed a last minute TD
to pull out the 28-24 home win. And last week, thanks in large part
to some ‘inventive’ play calling, the Chiefs stormed out to a 28-3
lead only to eventually give it all back and take a 3 pt, 30-27 loss
in OT. Kansas City is now sitting at 1-7, but they have obviously
not quit trying.
Also adding to the Chiefs struggles this year has been the situation
surrounding RB Larry Johnson, who many predicted to have a come-back
type of year. As of now, Johnson is still on suspension for his
off-the-field conduct. But the Chiefs have to be pleased with the
performance of their running game last week, as they torched a
pretty good Tampa Bay defense for over 180 yds and a TD on the
ground. RB Jamaal Charles did the most damage, racking up 106 yds on
just 18 carries, for a lofty 5.9 ypc average.
Unfortunately, the Kansas City defense has not improved it’s play
much lately though. In the Jet game, Brett Favre torched them for
290 yds and 2 TD’s, and Thomas Jones and Leon Washington combined
for another 121 yds and 2 TD’s on the ground. And last week against
Tampa Bay, QB Jeff Garcia torched them again for 339 yds and a TD,
on 31 of 43 passing. The Chiefs currently possess the NFL’s 31st
ranked defense, and are 32nd against the run and 22nd vs the pass.
The good news for the Kansas City offense, is that they face the
Charger defense this week, which on paper looks like an even better
match-up than the past 2 weeks. The Charger defense is currently
ranked at 26th overall, with rankings of 16th against the run and
32nd vs the pass. QB Tyler Thigpen could actually be in for his
third decent performance in as many weeks, and possibly his best to
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The bad news is that the Chief defense has to face the Charger
offense, which although not all that highly ranked, is one of the
more explosive in the NFL. The Chargers currently rank at 7th in
passing offense, but are at just 24th in the running game. However,
things are looking up as RB LaDanian Tomlinson appears to finally be
at 100%. A healthy Tomlinson should be able to shred this Chief
defense. The Chargers should also finally be healthy at WR this week
with the return of Chris Chambers, who did play in the New Orleans
game 2 weeks ago, catching 5 passes for 47 yds, but was probably not
quite at 100% yet. He has now had 2 more weeks to heal, so he should
be at full force. With the way WR Vincent Jackson has emerged in his
absence, the Chargers will now have a formidable duo of receivers to
compliment the now healthy Antonio Gates and Tomlinson. I look for
their offense to really start taking off in the 2nd half of the
QB Phillip Rivers has been phenomenal this year in compiling a 64%
completion ratio, and is now over the 2000 yd mark, with an
excellent ratio of 19TD’s to just 6 INT’s. And that was with a less
than healthy cast around him.
On defense, San Diego has made some recent moves to bolster that
area. The main of which was the firing of DC Ted Cottrell, who is
being replaced by LB coach Ron Rivera. We’ll have to see how that
plays out. But up till now the Chargers ‘D’ has been allowing over
370 yds per game, including 265 through the air and 106 yds rushing,
and an average of nearly 25 points per game.
It seems to be asking a lot of a team that only has 3 victories in 8
games, to come out and cover a 15.5 pt. spread. Actually the opening
line was more like 13.5 with a total of 44. The game has now been
bet up to as high as 15.5 with a total of up to 47.5. You figure
since San Diego is a public team and Kansas City is 1-7, the
odds-makers likely padded that opening line a bit, expecting lots of
public action on the Chargers. With the way the Chiefs have competed
the last couple games, I would think 11 – 11.5 would have been a
more accurate opening line. So we are likely getting quite a bit of
value going with the Chiefs in this one.
Like I mentioned earlier, this match-up has historically been a
tough one. Yes, the Chargers have covered 2 home games this year by
large amounts….a 48-29 thumping of the NY Jets, and a 30-10 rout of
New England. But you’ll notice that both of those teams had to
travel 3000 miles. In fact, New England had to spend 2 weeks out
here. Favre had a terrible game for the Jets, and San Diego had the
Pats circled on the calendar for payback time. But this is a
conference game between 2 teams that are very familiar with each
other. Here are some things to consider.
In 51 games dating back to 1983, Kansas City has never been a 15.5
point underdog when facing the San Diego Chargers. In fact, the
largest spread in those 51 games was a game last year in San Diego.
The Chiefs came in as 12.5 pt. road dogs and won the game SU 30-16.
In the last 26 meetings, Kansas City is 15-11 SU and 14-10-2 ATS vs
the Chargers. More recently, in the last 5 meetings the Chiefs are
3-2 both SU and ATS.
In the last 15 meetings, the largest margin of victory by either
team has been 14, and in 10 of those games the margin of victory was
8 or less. In the last 51 meetings, the winning margin by either
team has been more than 16 pts just 9 times, and Kansas City was 7-2
SU in those games.
Another very interesting fact. In 118 roles as home favorites since
1983, San Diego has never been more than a 14 pt. favorite. In their
last 6 roles as 12.5-13.5 pt. favorites though, dating back to 2005,
they are just 1-5 ATS.
Kansas City should be able to score some points in this game, but I
would be highly surprised if they pulled the upset. I would expect a
Charger win by between 7-10 pts. or so, so I’ll be glad to take the
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