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Tale of the tape: San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (3, 44.5)
Everybody’s flipping out about Philip Rivers’ 11 turnovers but San Diego’s total offense ranks eighth in the league and the passing attack ranks seventh. The problem is the Chargers average only 23.5 points per game and they have a minus-five turnover ratio. Running back Mike Tolbert is doubtful, but Ryan Mathews should be able to handle the rushing load himself. He averages 4.6 yards per carry and is also a receiving threat out of the backfield with 24 catches.
Kansas City continues to run the heck out of the ball because they don’t really have much choice. The Chiefs rank seventh in rushing yards (129 yards per game) but sit 30th in passing yards (173.7 yards per game) while managing only 17.5 points per contest. Running back Jackie Battle gets the start this week and leads the team with 232 rushing yards.
The Chiefs sit in the middle of the pack in most defensive categories, but they do rank third with 11 interceptions. They’re hoping Tamba Hali turns it up a bit. He led the AFC with 14.5 sacks last season, but the entire team has just six sacks this season. However, stopping the run is their biggest problem as they allow more than 125 rushing yards per game.
San Diego’s total defense ranks fifth in the league and the Chargers own the third best passing defense in the league, but they also struggle to stop the run allowing almost 122 yards per game. San Diego is looking to get a better pass rush as well. The Chargers have just 10 sacks on the season. Part of the problem is that injuries have left the team with just six of its defensive starters that began the season.
Edge: San Diego
Kansas City’s special teams could play a major role in this one. Punter Dustin Colquitt is one of the best in the business with a net average of 41.6 yards and he pinned the Raiders inside the 20 three times in last week’s 28-0 blowout. Ryan Succop has hit seven of his 10 field goal attempts and the Chiefs boast a couple dangerous kick returners in Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas, both of whom are averaging better than 23 yards per kick return.
The Chargers felt this year was going to be different for their special teams but so far it’s been the same old story. They sit 27th in kick return coverage and 30th in punt return defense and after letting Darren Sproles walk to New Orleans they sit 25th in punt returns and 24th in kick returns. The only good news is that they haven’t missed a field goal yet.
Word on the street
“Three weeks ago everybody would’ve thought they could circle (the second Chiefs game) as another win. Not anybody in this room did. We’ve been that 1-3 team and now these Chiefs have bounced right back and haven’t lost since they were here. This is going to be all you’d expect in a division game, teams fighting for first place.” - San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers.
“I think we’re taking steps in the right direction. I think everybody in there is excited about the opportunity we have in front of us on Monday night. We’re up for the challenge and we’re excited about the opportunity again.” - Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel.