When the Chiefs run
EDGE >> CHIEFS The Chiefs have a nice duo in Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, two backs who like to pound the ball up the middle. Ware went off against the Chargers in the Chiefs’ 33-3 win a few weeks ago, rushing 11 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns in relief of West. Inside linebacker Denzel Perryman, the Chargers’ second-round pick this year, will make fourth consecutive start. He’s built like a fire hydrant and hits like a ton of bricks. He will help the Chargers’ run defense, but probably not enough to boost a unit that has been yielding a miserable 4.7 yards per rush.
Chiefs’ top rusher
When the Chiefs pass
EDGE >> CHIEFS Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith hasn’t thrown an interception in over two months. He dissected the Chargers the last time they met, completing 20 of 25 passes for 253 yards. He’ll be attacking a secondary that will be without former Chiefs corner Brandon Flowers, who will miss the game with a knee injury after being carted off the field against Denver on Sunday. His replacement will be Steve Williams. The Chargers’ best hope to disrupt the Chiefs passing game will be to get after Smith. They sacked him three times when they last met, and their edge rushers — Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu — are capable. But San Diego’s interior rush is lacking, and the Chiefs should be able to exploit that.
Chiefs’ top QB
Chiefs’ top WR
When the Chargers run
EDGE >> CHIEFS San Diego running back Melvin Gordon is averaging a little under 13 carries per game, which is not enough for a rhythm runner. Then again, Gordon — the Chargers’ first-round pick this year — has the most touches in the NFL without a touchdown (183), so maybe there’s a reason he’s not getting it more. The Chargers have mixed in more formations that utilize a fullback in recent weeks to take advantage of Gordon’s strengths, but San Diego’s lack of continuity up front due to injuries certainly hasn’t helped. The Chiefs held the Chargers to a meager 2.1 yards per carry the last time they met, so they have a big advantage here.
Chargers’ top rusher
When the Chargers pass
EDGE >> CHARGERS Quarterback Philip Rivers is in the midst of one of his finest seasons as a professional, despite the Chargers’ record. Rivers is a gunslinger who will spread the ball around but will target tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green when he needs a play. Both are talented pass catchers who can pose matchup issues. The Chargers’ offensive line is vulnerable in pass protection, which is a reason Rivers has thrown a league-high five pick-six’s this season. The line really struggled against the Broncos. The Chiefs got after Rivers pretty good the first time they met, holding him to 178 yards, but he’s probably too good to get throttled the same way this time around.
Chargers’ top QB
Chargers’ top WR
EDGE >> CHIEFS Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt is one of the league leaders in punts inside the 20, an area the Chargers rank last. The Chargers have a superior touchback percentage and field-goal percentage, while the Chiefs are better on extra points. However, the Chiefs’ return teams are much better, and they’re better at covering kicks and punts, too, so they get the edge.
EDGE >> CHIEFS After posting consecutive 9-7 seasons, Chargers coach Mike McCoy is a disappointing 3-9, which puts him on the hot seat this year. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich’s unit has been productive, by and large, despite a number of key injuries, while defensive coordinator John Pagano’s unit has struggled to stop the run and get consistent pressure on the quarterback. Meanwhile, Chiefs coach Andy Reid has rewarded offensive coordinator Doug Pederson with additional responsibility while defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has found success with a more aggressive approach during the Chiefs’ six-game win streak.
EDGE >> CHIEFS The Chargers are out of the playoff hunt, so they won’t be playing for anything more than pride. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are on a great run and confidence should be sky high. The Chiefs also know they beat the Chargers by 30 the last time they met, and this time they actually have the game at home, so that works in their favor as well.
Bottom line: Chiefs 24-14
The Chargers’ 3-9 record is a reflection of what happens when you battle injuries and can’t stop the run. Rivers is one of the league’s best quarterbacks but even he couldn’t save them this season. The Chiefs should win handily on what could be a cold, wet day built for power football.