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Game Preview: Chiefs at Chargers, Chargers on Offense

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Chargers Running the Ball

  • 19th in Yards/Game (105.6), down from 15th last week.
  • 17th in Yards/Carry (4.0), up from 18th last week.
  • 8th in Rush TDs (11), down from 5th last week.
  • 20th in Runs for 1st downs (20.6%), down from 17th last week.
  • 12th in Runs for 20+ Yards (9), down from 9th last week.
  • 29th in Fumbles (9), up from 30th last week.

The 2010 San Diego Chargers rushing offense has been an improvement over the 2009 iteration, in that it has been effective at times. However, the inconsistency of the run game has been the downfall of the team on more than one occasion this season.

The team doesn't necessarily need a good rushing attack to win, but it might need at least average production. Whether or not they will get that on any given week is anybody's guess.

 

Chiefs Stopping the Run

  • 12th in Yards/Game allowed (101.8)
  • 16th in Yards/Carry allowed (4.2)
  • 7th in Rush TDs allowed (6)
  • 12th in Runs for 1st downs against (21.3%)
  • 12th in Runs for 20+ Yards allowed (7)
  • 4th in Fumbles recovered (7)

The Chiefs have a Top 15 rushing defense, and it will continue to improve as their young defensive linemen get more experience. The Chargers will not head into this match-up believing that the Chiefs defense is a stalwart, but after getting pushed around by an average-to-below-average Raiders defense they should at least be worried about their own production.

 

Advantage: Chiefs.

 

Chargers Throwing the Ball

  • 2nd in Yards/Game (291.8), same as last week.
  • 1st in Yards/Attempt (8.8), same as last week.
  • 4th in passing TDs (24), down from 1st last week.
  • 1st in Passes for 1st down (42.3%), same as last week.
  • 1st in Passes for 20+ yards (56), same as last week.
  • 21st in Sacks taken (29), down from 19th last week.
  • 11th in Interceptions thrown (10), same as last week.

It's mind-boggling how much better this offense is when Philip Rivers is protected, and the inconsistency with which that occurs. Granted, the Raiders entered last week 2nd in the league in sacks, but it would seem that the early-season mental breakdowns that this line is prone to have found their way into December as well.

My guess is that they correct the problem and go on to finish another fantastic December, at least in terms of pass protection, but that's certainly not guaranteed. Rivers and the guys catching the ball don't need to be worried about. Give them time and they'll get it done.

 

Chiefs Defending the Pass

  • 21st in Yards/Game allowed (233.1)
  • 4th in Yards/Attempt (6.6)
  • 14th in TDs allowed (18)
  • 6th in Passes for 1st downs allowed (31.3%)
  • 15th in Passes for 20+ yards allowed (36)
  • 12th in Sacks (27)
  • 23rd in Interceptions (9)

Similar to their defensive line, the Chiefs secondary is a group that I singled out last season as being "on the rise". They have not disappointed this season, both in flashes of brilliance and also a few mistakes due to inexperience.

The key to their success in this game is whether or not the pass-rush can force El Capitan to get rid of the ball before he wants to. The reason for this is two-fold: One, it ruins the plans of the play and increases the potential of Philip getting knocked out of the game. Two, it allowed the Chiefs very-physical Corners to play up on the line and play bump-and-run without much fear of the Chargers' receivers getting open deep.

The one thing San Diego has going for it is that the Chiefs' pass-rush is still relatively one-dimensional, with almost all of the pressure coming from Tamba Hali. That should make them easier to block (evidenced by them being average in terms of team sacks this season), and give Rivers enough time that the KC CBs have to play off the WRs and open up routes underneath.

 

Advantage: Chargers.