Chiefs

Scouting report for Sunday’s Chiefs-Chargers game

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR

The Kansas City Star

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles. The Associated Press

When the Chiefs run

EDGE >> CHIEFS

Talk about a game that’s going to have to be won up front. The Chiefs will be without quarterback Alex Smith, who will miss the game (noon Sunday on CBS, Chs. 5, 13) with a lacerated spleen. That means coach Andy Reid will rely on star running back Jamaal Charles, who only needs 21 yards to surpass the 1,000-yard rushing barrier (again), and promising second-year back Knile Davis. Expect Reid to use misdirection to create creases for those two to run, though an up-and-down offensive line will need to have a good day for it to work. And honestly, they should — the Chargers’ front seven is vulnerable against the run. A week ago, they allowed a ridiculous 355 rushing yards in a 38-35 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Chiefs’ Top Rusher

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

J. Charles

193

979

5.1

9

When the Chiefs pass

EDGE >> CHARGERS

The Chargers don’t have much of a pass rush — they rank 29th in the NFL in sacks with 22 — but the Chiefs aren’t great at protecting the passer, either. They have allowed 45 sacks, which ranks 25th in the league, despite a gameplan heavy on short passes week in and week out. Smith’s replacement, Chase Daniel, has fared well in limited NFL action, but he missed out on most of the practice reps Tuesday and Wednesday, which is a tall order to overcome. Safety Eric Weddle is someone Daniel will need to steer clear of, and you just know ex-Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers wants to get a pick in his old stomping grounds.

Chiefs’ Top QB

C

A

Yds.

TD-I

C. Daniel

0

1

0

0-0

Chiefs’ Top WR

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

D.Bowe

57

724

12.7

0

When the Chargers run

EDGE >> CHIEFS

Starting running back Ryan Mathews is out with an ankle injury, and nose tackle Dontari Poe should feast, particularly if center Chris Watt — who is questionable with an ankle injury — does not play. The Chargers already have three other centers on injured reserve. That said, the Chiefs’ run defense isn’t very good, and neither is the Chargers’ run offense. The tie goes to the Chiefs, however — the last time these teams met, they held the Chargers to 69 yards in 16 carries. They also held the Steelers’ star back, Le’Veon Bell, to a surprisingly-low 63 yards in 20 carries a week ago.

Chargers’ Top Rusher

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

B. Oliver

146

511

3.5

2

When the Chargers pass

EDGE >> CHARGERS

You can get to Philip Rivers — the Chargers have allowed 30 sacks, which ranks 16th in the league. Meanwhile, the Chiefs rank seventh in the NFL in sacks with 39, thanks largely to the efforts of outside linebacker Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Houston is gunning for the team’s single-season sack record, too. With 18, he’s only two short of the mark Derrick Thomas set in 1990. Houston is looking to get paid, so expect him to attack Rivers with particular gusto. The Chiefs will get a break due to the likely absence of second-year receiver Keenan Allen, who is doubtful with ankle and shoulder injuries, but 6-5 receiver Malcolm Floyd is a big and dependable target, and no one has to tell Chiefs fans how tough Hall of Fame-bound tight end Antonio Gates is to cover.

Chargers’ Top QB

C

A

Yds.

TD-I

P. Rivers

359

536

3,995

31-16

Chargers’ Top WR

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

K. Allen

77

783

10.2

4

Special teams

EDGE >> CHIEFS

The Chiefs have the clear edge in the return game — they have two return touchdowns compared to zero for San Diego. Meanwhile, neither team has allowed a return touchdown. San Diego’s kicker, Nick Novak, has been slightly more accurate on field goals than the Chiefs’ Cairo Santos, while the Chiefs have far more punts inside the 20 than the Chargers (30 to 22). Mike Scifres, San Diego’s punter, will miss the game due to injury.

Coaching

EDGE >> CHIEFS

Mike McCoy is 2-1 as a head coach vs. Chiefs coach Andy Reid, but Reid’s resume is superior, and the Chiefs did beat the Chargers on the road earlier this season. Give McCoy credit for helping turn Philip Rivers’ career around, though. McCoy also flummoxed the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, once last season. A replay isn’t out of the question.

X-factor

EDGE >> CHARGERS

The Chiefs have Arrowhead, sure, and they also have the benefit of playing a West Coast team at home in December. Both teams also need a win to make the playoffs, but the Chiefs need more help, and the Chargers have to be riding high after their improbable 21-point road comeback victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Yeah, they have the momentum.

Bottom line: Chiefs 23-20

The Chiefs have the edge in a number of categories on paper, but this game will be close. The Chiefs will need to lean on the run in the absence of Smith. If they fail to do so, the Chargers could get after Daniel, and that would spell trouble for the Chiefs. That said, Daniel is a professional — he knows how to prepare — and the guess here is that Reid will mix up his playcalling well enough to keep the Chargers off balance.

| Terez A. Paylor, tpaylor@kcstar.com

202.8

Chiefs pass yards per game

219.1

Chargers pass yards allowed per game

256.6

Chargers pass yards per game

200.2

Chiefs pass yards allowed per game

120.5

Chiefs rush yards per game

125.0

Chargers rush yards allowed per game

83.7

Chargers rush yards per game

128.3

Chiefs rush yards allowed per game

  Comments