EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23: Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers makes a catch in the second quarter to score a touchdown over Eric Smith and Josh Mauga #53 of the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
First, the good news. The San Diego Chargers are 8th in the league in offensive yards and 14th in the league in offensive points scored per game. They lead the league in time of possession, as well. This might not be the best offense in the league, but it's formidable.
Now, the bad news. The offense you've seen from the Charger so far this season is not the offense you will see tonight in Kansas City against the Chiefs. Kris Dielman, the All-Pro LG, will miss at least the next two games. Marcus McNeill, who has struggled with neck issues in the past, is playing with a hurt neck. Mike Tolbert, who looked like he was getting back on track with a good game against the Jets, is not expected to play.
Jacob Hester and Ryan Mathews will be counted on to carry much of the offensive load tonight, and each of them are nursing injuries of their own. It looks like the offense is going to rest on the erratic shoulders of Philip Rivers and the injured foot of Antonio Gates. Hold on tight.
Unfortunately, with the Chargers running game taking a big hit, the Chiefs' defensive weakness seems to be against the run. This much was obvious when, in their last meeting, Ryan Mathews ran for 98 yards and 2 rushing TDs against Kansas City.
After a few rough spells early on, the Chiefs CBs are playing better and their secondary has been key to creating turnovers and winning the turnover battle consistently during KC's 3-game winning streak. They will be dangerous, especially with the way Rivers has been throwing the ball to opposing CBs lately. The Jets defense drew up the blueprint for KC to follow, which is to focus on stopping the throws to RBs out of the backfield and force Rivers to make throws to his WRs with pressure in front of his face to prevent him from stepping up in the pocket. I have no doubt that the Chiefs will try to do the same.
The one bit of good news for the Chargers in this matchup is that the Chiefs' pass-rush has been truly terrible this year. They're last in the league with 6 sacks (right below the Chargers, who have 10) this season. Rivers should have time to put some zip on his passes and not force the ball anywhere. The Chargers will need him to be better than he's been this season if they hope to beat a Chiefs team that is better than it was when it lost by 3 in San Diego.