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2014 Chargers’ Opponents Preview: Kansas City Chiefs

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We take a look at the off-season the Chiefs had, as we preview our divisional rival. After a stellar 2013 campaign, what has Kansas City done to improve for this year?

Peter Aiken

There's only a few weeks left until the regular season kicks-off, and with only two teams left on our opponent preview, we get to one of the most important match-ups of the season, with this preview helping you become a little more familiar with one of the toughest opponents for the Chargers in 2014.

In other words, KNOW YOUR ENEMY...

More Opponent Previews: Arizona Cardinals | Seattle Seahawks | Buffalo Bills | Jacksonville Jaguars | New York Jets | Miami Dolphins | St. Louis Rams | Baltimore Ravens | New England Patriots | San Francisco 49ers | Oakland Raiders

The Kansas City Chiefs enter the 2014 season with high expectations, after an abrupt end to their surprising season they had last year, turning a 2-14 team into an 11-5 play-off team. Andy Reid begins his second year with this organization, and aims to have a more successful campaign. However, with a tougher set of opponents and higher expectations, this team will look to prove that last year was not a fluke.

Offensively, the Chiefs will still feature one of the best running backs in the league, Jamaal Charles. After rushing for 1,287 yards, along with 70 receptions for 693 yards, and 19 total touchdowns, Charles looks to continue being the focal point of this unit. The offense ranked 21st in total offense last year, and looks to be better this season as both Charles and Alex Smith enter their second year in Reid's system.

Defensively, this unit was one of the best last year, as it ranked 9th in DVOA, with 47 total sacks, 21 interceptions, 15 forced fumbles, while scoring seven times, and only allowing 2.4 TD's per game. They did fall off a bit towards the end of the season, which contributed to the 2-5 record in their last seven games after an 9-0 start, however, with Bob Sutton still dialing up the plays, this unit should be just as dangerous this season.

Free-Agency

Additions: Vance Walker, Joe Mays, Jeff Linkenbach

Losses: Brandon Flowers (released), Branden Albert, Geoff Schwartz, Jon Asamoah, Dexter McCluster, Tyson Jackson, Quitin Demps, Jerrell Powe, Akeem Jordan

Draft

23. Dee Ford, LB Auburn
87. Phillip Gaines, CB Rice
124. De'Anthony Thomas, RB Oregon
163. Aaron Murray, QB Georgia
193. Zach Fulton G Tennessee
200. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OT McGill

The Chiefs witnessed a number of departures in free-agency, with very minimal additions, as they depended mostly on their draft to add talent. Drafting Dee Ford gives Sutton another option to toy with, while Philip Gaines looks to be coming along, as he should fill the role of nickel corner and eventually push to start. De'Anthony Thomas has impressed so far, and has even stirred mentions as a steal by some experts.

With Andy Reid infamously known for making his RB's lethal pass catchers out of the backfield, there is no reason to see Charles being featured in their passing game just as much, if not more, than he was last season.

Travis Kelce has excited many during preseason, as he has flashed his big play potential, and should be featured as a down-field passing option going forward. However, outside of Kelce and the screens to running backs, the passing offense doesn't have much else. Dwayne Bowe is serving a one-game suspension, but seems to be healthy entering the season, as Donnie Avery remains an option with limited potential.

One of the main concerns for this team will be the how the offensive line will perform, after replacing three starters. Eric Fisher is expected to make the jump over to left tackle, and replace Albert, however is still ailing from off-season shoulder surgeryDonald Stephenson has the inside track at the right tackle spot, and if Fisher struggles to transition, Stephenson could be an option on the left side as well, while Zach Fulton looks to be competing for the right guard spot.

Tamba Hali and Justin Houston still headline a ferocious pass-rush, while Dontari Poe is quickly becoming Wilfork 2.0. Releasing Brandon Flowers will be a lingering question, especially if the secondary struggles, but Eric Berry is still manning this unit's backfield, and as Marcus Cooper continues to develop, this unit is not on-track to regress.

Since 2006, Philip Rivers is 12-4 against the Chiefs, compiling 4,187 yards with 26 TD's and 17 interceptions, a 64% completion percentage, and a total QBR of 91.62, with a 97.52 rating in Arrowhead Stadium. The Chargers also have one of the best offensive lines in the league, ranking 8th in pass protection, and surrendering only 30 sacks last year, tied for 4th-best in the league.

Keeping Rivers upright will be the key to these games, as it is to any game, as the Chargers will need to protect him from a pass-rush that did not have the opportunity to showcase their full potential against him last year, but a bigger concern will be containing Charles, as the Chargers have shown poor tackling and containing techniques thus far in two preseason games.

The Chargers lead the all-time series 55-52-1, with the San Diego winning both games last year, and earning a playoff berth with their week 17 victory. The first game in this season's series is week 7, Sunday October 19 in San Diego, with the second match scheduled for week 17 in Kansas City.

If both teams are fighting for a playoff berth by season's end, their week 17 match-up could determine which of the two moves on to the post-season. With Arrowhead Stadium one of the loudest and toughest venues to play in, and a potential playoff spot on the line, this very well could end up being the marquee game that weekend, as last year's games turned out to be nail-biters, these next two should be no different.