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Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers

11/9/08



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 QBs, 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 TDs and 4 INTs, 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 TDs and 0 INTs. 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 its play much lately though. In the Jet game, Brett Favre torched them for 290 yds and 2 TDs, and Thomas Jones and Leon Washington combined for another 121 yds and 2 TDs 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 NFLs 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 date.

 

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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 season.


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 19TDs to just 6 INTs. 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. Well 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 youll 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 Ill be glad to take the Chiefs +15.5.

 

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