Jamaal Charles is a legitimate MVP candidate who has brought it every game. That includes last week, when he managed to rush for more than 100 yards despite the team’s poor overall performance. Stopping Charles will be San Diego’s No. 1 objective, but it’s easier said than done.
|Chiefs’ top rusher||No.||Yds.||Avg.||TD|
The Chiefs had a rough game against the Colts, but they’ll have a little easier time throwing the ball against one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses. Chiefs QB Alex Smith had one of his best games against the Chargers in week 12, so it’s hard to imagine he won’t be able to get it going again. But he won’t haveDwayne Bowe (left)
to throw to since Bowe is out because of a concussion.
|Chiefs’ top QB||C||A||Yds.||TD-I|
|Chiefs’ top WR||No.||Yds.||Avg.||TD|
The Chiefs fared OK against the run in their first matchup with the Chargers, holding them to 104 yards and an average of 3.9 yards per carry. The edge still goes to the Chargers though, largely because the passing game should open things up on the ground.
|Chargers top rusher||No.||Yds.||Avg.||TD|
Philip Rivers tore the Chiefs up in week 12, when they lost Justin Houston and Tamba Hali to injury and could only watch as he threw for 392 yards and two touchdowns. Well, Hali will miss this game, too, and it’s unclear how much Houston will play. Throw in the secondary’s terrible performance against Indianapolis last week, and it’s hard to see the Chiefs shutting down Rivers.
|Chargers’ top QB||C||A||Yds.||TD-I|
|Chargers’ top WR||No.||Yds.||Avg.||TD|
Under Dave Toub, the Chiefs boast some of the most dangerous special teams in professional football. Kicker Nick Novak and punter Mike Scifres may rival the Chiefs’ duo of Dustin Colquitt andRyan Succop (right)
, the Chiefs have the edge on kick and punt returns, where they’ve taken back four for scores compared with San Diego’s zero.Coaching EDGE >> Chargers
This has little to do with Andy Reid. San Diego coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt befuddled Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s defense the first time around. It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs fare in the rematch, but it will be up to Sutton to prove he can stop Rivers and one of league’s best young receivers in Keenan Allen this time.X-factor EDGE >> Chargers
This one is simple. While the Chiefs are in the playoffs win or lose Sunday, the Chargers need a win — and losses by Baltimore and Miami — to qualify for the postseason. That’s plenty of motivation for San Diego.Bottom line: Chargers 31-20
The Chiefs were embarrassed last week, so it would be a surprise if they pulled another “no show.” But it’s unlikely they’ll be able to match the Chargers’ effort and intensity, especially with nothing on the line. Look for this one to be close early before the Chargers pull away late.
Terez A Paylor, firstname.lastname@example.org