Week 1 Monday Night Football
The San Diego Chargers have faced this scenario twice in the past few seasons. A 27-0 shutout defeat over Oakland in 2006. A thrilling 24-20 win over Oakland at the last second last year. So what can we expect over a different rival for tonight? A blowout win like last year? A classic 4th quarter comeback by El Capitán? Or a crushing defeat, being by 1 point or 10? Any scenario is possible, but few are probable. Here's a breakdown that will give us an idea of what to expect for tonight.Offense
In two games last season, Philip Rivers connected on 39 of his 58 passes good for a 67% completion rate and 585 yards to go with no picks and 5 touchdowns and a QB rating of 128.88. This leaves a good impression that Rivers will be able to throw at will and pick apart the Kansas City defense as he sees fit, but if he has to, will he be able to? Brandyn Dombrowski is filling in for holdout Marcus McNeil, and although the situation has some concerned over Rivers and his pocket presence, the gameplan may find a way to counter any deficiencies in pass protection, if there happens to be any. With a healthy Offensive line, an improved set of blockers in "The White Hammer" Jacob Hester and Mike "Rocket Hog" Tolbert (I just made that up) the running game is looking to improve with Ryan Mathews taking over for the great LaDainian Tomlinson. If the run game is able to set the tone early, Rivers will have an opportunity to make up for the lack of his Pro Bowl blind side protector and Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson, who managed 7 catches for 169 yards and a TD last year. With Jackson no longer in the lineup, look for Malcom Floyd to flourish. M-80 had just 5 catches for 94 yards and one TD last season, but will surely see more action this game. Legedu Naanee managed practically nothing, but may have a couple of catches this time around, as well as newly acquired Patrick Crayton and 1st round Bust-er Davis, who needs to prove himself. Antonio Gates is bound to shred the defense as usual, so not much needs to be said other than 12-173-2, catches-yards-TDs in 2 games last season. So judging by History, current preparation, and the Chiefs improved defense under Defensive guru Romeo Crennel, what can we hope to see in the Box Score by the end of the 4th quarter?
- Rivers: 19 of 27 for 271 yards, 2 Touchdowns, no Interceptions
- Floyd: 4 receptions for 71 yards, 1 Touchdown
- Gates: 6 receptions for 85 yards, 1 Touchdown
- Naanee: 2 receptions for 33 yards
- Crayton: 2 receptions for 27 yards
- Davis: 1 reception for 13 yards
- Bam-Bam: 2 receptions for 26 yards and 17 carries for 82 yards and 1 Touchdown (and 3 Chiefs bowled over)
- Sproles: 2 receptions for 16 yards and 3 carries for 18 yards
- Tolbert/Hester: 1 carry for 3 yards
- Rivers: 1 scramble for 6 yards. (Have you guys seen Philip Rivers scramble?!)
Matt Cassel and the rest of the Chiefs offense has struggled greatly against the Chargers, with the exception of Jamaal Charles and infrequently, Chris Chambers (remember him?). Thomas Jones is a bit overrated, so lets not look at him for now. Charles has gained 126 yards rushing on just 18 attempts for a 7 yard per carry average. Normally, this scares a team into trying to occasionally sneak a 12th man between the front 3 in an effort for an edge, but with Cassel historically struggling immensely to generate any offense against the Bolts, he will be dared to throw when Charles is stuffed for little or no gain on numerous runs through an 8 man front. The question is, can Cassel deliver? Only twice has Cassel posted a QB rating over 100 last season, and he was sacked 3 and 5 times, respectively, during those games. He never threw for 3 TDs, and he fumbled 14 times during the season, despite just over 500 drop backs. Keep an eye on the secondary limiting Cassel to under 200 passing yards and the game will depend on the front seven. With that in mind, look for the front three to collapse the pocket and the linebackers to run blitz, hoping to hit Cassel in the process of playaction. The defensive line rotation of Garay, Thomas, Cesaire, Boone, Johnson and Nwagbuo should help Luis "El Toro" Castillo not have to play 70 snaps and keep the Kansas O-line wondering how to deal with facing new guys with new technique and ability. Last season the Charger defense held the Chiefs to an average of only 243 net yards on offense. However, they struggled in the Red Zone, allowing the Chiefs to score all 3 times they got inside the 20. The good is that they only made it in 3 times, but scoring can happen from midfield as well. So looking at history, and the improvements by both teams, what can we expect to see the Chiefs manage tonight?
- Cassel: 17 of 30 for 211 yards and 1 Touchdown, 1 interception
- Charles: 15 carries for 70 yards 3 catches for 37 yards
- Jones: 12 carries for 38 yards and 1 Touchdown
San Diego 27
Kansas City 17
That's my prediction, hope it turns out exact. Please share your thoughts below.