Tale Of The Tape: San Diego Chargers At Kansas City Chiefs
- QuarterbackThe San Diego Chargers appeared to be changing their identity in the first half of the season under new coach Mike McCoy. However, they have a losing record once again after 10 games, even though quarterback Philip Rivers is having an excellent statistical year. Rivers is completing 70.9 percent of his passes and has a 19-8 TD-interception ratio.The Chiefs rolled to wins in their first nine games, and much of the credit was given to new coach Andy Reid, the Kansas City defense and special teams. While Alex Smith may not have the gaudy statistics of many of the top quarterbacks in the game, he does not make mistakes and he comes through with big plays when the game is on the line.
- OffenseThe Chargers have been getting a credible effort from Ryan Mathews at the running back slot because he runs hard on every attempt and he will pick up yards between the tackles even though he is not a breakaway threat. Keenan Allen (knee, check status) is a fine wide receiver who is getting better, while Antonio Gates has enjoyed a resurgent season. Danny Woodhead is a solid third-down receiver.Running back Jamaal Charles has the speed to give the Chiefs a breakaway threat as a runner or a receiver. He has already topped the 800-yard mark. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe finally got back into the endzone, but he is not a dependable big-play maker. Dexter McCluster can go downfield and catch the ball, while Donnie Avery is quite dependable.
- DefenseThe Chargers have had problems on the defensive side of the ball because they lack playmakers and overall toughness. They rank 29th in overall defense and generally have a hard time providing a decent pass rush. Free safety Eric Weddle is the hardest working player on the defense and the best tackler. He has 77 stops and seven passes defensed this season.The Chiefs have had a ferocious pass rush this season and that’s probably the biggest reason they have been successful this season. The duo of Tamba Hali (9.0 sacks) and Justin Houston (11.0 sacks) have been productive, although the Broncos kept them away from Peyton Manning in Week 11. Derrick Johnson leads the Chiefs with 73 tackles and he also has 3.5 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Chargers have been quite ordinary on special teams this year and that could cost them against the Chiefs. While Eddie Royal has explosive speed, he has not made a big play as a returner this season. Placekicker Nick Novak has made 20-of-23 FG attempts.The Chiefs have gotten an excellent special-teams effort all season. McCluster is an explosive returner who can turn any game around. Ryan Succop has performed well as the team’s placekicker, connecting on 19-of-22 FG attempts. However, he has made just 1-of-4 from 50 yards or more.
The Chiefs could not impose their will on the explosive Broncos and their nine-game winning streak came to an end. While that loss was not a disaster, they can’t let a home game against the Chargers slip out of their grasp. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor