The league's best running game looks an awful lot like the 2009 Jets league-best running game. Mix one part veteran (Thomas Jones) with one proven young stud (Jamaal Charles) and add a pinch of explosive wild-card (Dexter McCluster) for a recipe that can turn one of the league's worst offenses into one of the league's most consistent and dangerous in just one offseason.
5th in Yards/Game allowed (95.2), down from 3rd last week.
5th in Yards/Carry allowed (3.7), down from 3rd last week.
21st in Rush TDs allowed (11), down from 13th last week.
6th in Runs for 1st downs against (20.0%), down from 4th last week.
4th in Runs for 20+ Yards allowed (5), down from 2nd last week.
32nd in Fumbles recovered (1), same as last week. They'd go down if they could though.
Last week I described the Chargers' run defense as "very good but not great". Then, against the Raiders, they looked like they were the JV football team at an all-girls' middle school. They are still terrible at causing fumbles, for whatever reason, and are not amongst the league's best in goal-line stops.
It's becoming more obvious as the season drags along that this is a good run defense that relies a bit on the good passing defense behind them and the good offense that takes the field when they get off of it. They are not going to win the game for you, but they usually won't give the game away (although they did last week).
Chiefs Throwing the Ball
25th in Yards/Game (198.7)
14th in Yards/Attempt (7.1)
5th in TDs (23)
6th in Passes for 1st down (37.6%)
18th in Passes for 20+ yards (34)
3rd in Sacks taken (17)
1st in Interceptions thrown (4)
Here's what I am comfortable going on the record with: Matt Cassel, in a particular offensive system that plays to his strengths, is a very good QB. Also, Dwayne Bowe is a monster, formed in a lab with a singular purpose of catching football and making professional DBs look silly. Those two guys together, with the chemistry they have formed over the last two seasons, are a very dangerous combination.
This week the Chargers will face Brodie Croyle, as Cassel has had his appendix removed during the week, who (logically) is not as good as Cassel and does not have that same chemistry with Bowe. The best-case scenario is that the rust he has from not playing in a regular-season game this season forces him to hold onto the ball a little too long and the Chargers pass-rush keeps the Chiefs passing game in check.
Chargers Defending the Pass
1st in Yards/Game allowed (186.2), up from 2nd last week.
2nd in Yards/Attempt (6.4), same as last week.
4th in TDs allowed (12), same as last week.
5th in Passes for 1st downs allowed (31.2%), same as last week.
1st in Passes for 20+ yards allowed (28), same as last week.
6th in Sacks (34), down from 1st last week.
12th in Interceptions (13), down from 10th last week.
We've been saying this for a few seasons now, but if the Chargers CBs and Safeties had better hands this would be regarded as the top defensive backfield in the league. The good pass-rush this season has only helped them, and no QB has really had a great game against them in 2010. Matt Cassel stood a chance at being the first, as he's progressed a bit since Week 1, but against Brodie Croyle they should have no problem sustaining their dominance over opposing QBs.