Monday Night Football Week 8 Preview: Chargers vs. Chiefs
The Chargers and Chiefs square off in Kansas City tonight, a huge battle for the AFC West. We break down some of the key areas to watch.
Struggling Philip Rivers
Over recent years, the Chargers' quarterback has elevated his play to the point at which many analysts call him the best active quarterback to have not won a Super Bowl. However, his play this year has not lived up to these expectations. Rivers has thrown seven touchdowns and nine interceptions, just four picks fewer than he threw all of last season. For whatever reason, he has been inconsistent over the course of the year. The Chargers sit on top of the AFC West, but they won't stay there unless Rivers improves his decision-making, especially tonight against a surging Chiefs squad.
Are the Chiefs for Real?
After an 0-3 start, the Chiefs were relegated by most to the bottom tier of the NFL. The loss of star running back Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry meant that they would be without arguably their best players on both sides of the ball for the entire 2011 season. Amazingly enough, the Chiefs now sit at 3-3 and are in a tie for second place in the AFC West. The Chiefs' three wins have come against Minnesota, Indianapolis, and Oakland, two terrible teams and one with an unsettled situation at quarterback. This will be KC's first test since losing to the Chargers on September 25, a loss that sent them to 0-3. Will the Chiefs prove that they are capable of defending their AFC West championship?
Despite the loss of Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs actually have the NFL's eighth-best running game. Fourth-year RB Jackie Battle heads the attack and leads the team with 232 rushing yards. He is spelled by former Ole Miss standout Dexter McCluster (seen left) and veteran Thomas Jones. This trio will pound away to take pressure off QB Matt Cassel, who has been inconsistent this season. San Diego also has a formidable rushing game, led by emerging star Ryan Mathews. Both teams have had struggles in run defense, ranking 21st or lower in the NFL. If either quarterback reverts to his inconsistent ways tonight, both teams may turn to their running games, knowing that they can power the ball at will and that the outcome of the game may reside with whomever holds on to the ball longer.
Both the Chiefs and the Chargers are currently an enigma. Are the Chiefs the team that got blown out in its first three games, or is it the one that has rallied to 3-0? Are the Chargers actually ready to take the next step, or are they destined for mediocrity this season? This game will go a long way towards answering those questions, but in the end the Chargers will prevail. They will overcome several early haymakers from the Chiefs and take over in the second half with several big plays from Philip Rivers. Expect a highly competitive game with the Chargers reasserting themselves as the best in the AFC West.
Chargers 24, Chiefs 20
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