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Know Your Enemy: Kansas City Chiefs

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The Chargers can begin their long, arduous climb out of the AFC West cellar - or sink further down into the depths of ineptitude - as the Kansas City Chiefs are in town.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Well that bye week sure was fun wasn't it?

Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Andy Reid (3rd Season, 17th Overall. 24-17 KC, 154-110 Overall)

Offensive Coordinator: Doug Pederson

Defenisve Coordinator: Bob Sutton

Reid, of course, was the long time head coach of the Eagles, where he guided Philadelphia to nine playoff appearances in his 14 seasons. He got his start in the NFL in 1992 as an offensive assistant with the Packers under  fellow heavy set, bespectacled, mustachioed coach, Mike Holmgren. He stayed in Green Bay until heading east to Philly. Just four days after getting fired by the Eagles at the end of the 2012 season, the Chiefs promptly signed Reid to a five year deal at the same position. The Chiefs have finished in second place in Reid's first two seasons in Kansas City and currently reside there entering Sunday's contest.

Pederson has worked with Reid as both player and coach, as the former served as Brett Favre's backup in Green Bay from 1996-1998 before spending the 1999 season with the Eagles. Pederson later returned to Philadelphia in 2009 for his initial NFL coaching gig and worked as an offensive quality control coach for the next two seasons. When Reid went to Kansas City, Pederson again went with him and has served as the Chiefs offensive coordinator since 2013. Under Pederson the Chiefs have ranked 21st (2013) and 25th (2014) in total offense and enter Sunday in a similar position (24th).

From 1972-1999 Sutton spent his career coaching in the college ranks, primarily at Army, where he served as both a defensive coordinator (1983-1991) and head coach (1991-1999). Prior to his arrival in Kansas City in 2013, Sutton coached with the Jets from 2000-2012 and most notably worked as the team's defensive coordinator from 2006-2008.

Last Week's Recap: 29-13 Win at Denver

If you have joined me in basking in the glory of watching teams you dislike suffer embarrassing losses then last Sunday's tilt between the Chiefs-Broncos might've qualified as the most entertaining-bordering-on-sad game of the year.

The Chiefs didn't do anything particularly outstanding in racing out to a 16-0 halftime lead. Instead, Kansas City merely had the best seat in the house to - and proved to be the primary benefactors of - the  downfall of Peyton Manning. At this point I'm sure you've heard Manning's stat line by now but just as a refresher the future Hall of Famer completed just one pass fewer to the Chiefs (4) than to his own teammates (5) and was benched midway through the third quarter after having thrown for 35 yards on 20 attempts. He finished with a quarterback rating of zero. Zero. Zero! The Broncos ground game was again nearly nonexistent as C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman combined to total 51 yards. Denver did finally score with 5:27 left in the fourth quarter, but Kansas City had built a 29-0 lead by then and the game was well out of hand. For his part, Brock Osweiler went 14-24 for 146 yards a score and Denver's fifth interception of the day.

Alex Smith and co. pretty much had to just not be awful and they weren't. Smith completed 17 of his 31 passes for 204 yards while Charcandrick West averaged fewer than three yards a carry, totaling 69 yards on 24 carries. West, however, was responsible for both of Kansas City's touchdowns, the first a four-yard run, and the other an 80-yard reception that put the Chiefs up by four scores on the road.

Key Players: Offense

QB Alex Smith, RB Charcandrick Smith, WR Jeremy Maclin, TE Travis Kelce

Smith has been his usual efficient, if not impressive, self again in 2015. The veteran signal caller hasn't thrown an interception in his last 228 passes and just three total this year. He has also become more of a factor running the ball and is on pace to total the second most yards in a season in his career. Furthermore, Smith is in line to throw for a career high 3,799 yards - or more than 400 yards better than his current career high.

Part of that has to due with the injury to running back Jamaal Charles who was lost for the year. But it also helps that Kansas City has put better weapons around Smith, running back aside. Free agent addition Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce are essentially the only threats in the passing game as the enter tied for the team lead in receptions (45) and are the only two players on the roster (outside of Charles) who have more than 20 catches on the season. Maclin is Smith's favorite target (67 targets) while Kelce has been thrown at just five fewer times. The two are again nearly identical in yardage, as Maclin leads the team with 583 receiving yards while Kelce is just nine yards behind the former Eagles receiver. The two, however, could not be more different off of the stat sheet however. Maclin is a true deep threat, a speedster who can be lethal in man-to-man coverage. Kelce is a physical mismatch for any defense. The 6-foot-5, 260 pound tight end hasn't exactly lived up to the six reception, 106-yard 2 touchdown performance he had in week one, but Kelce has more often than not been a reliable, if not dynamic, go-to receiver for Smith.

After Charles was lost for the season, West somewhat unexpectadly became the Chiefs starter in the backfield alongside Smith. No matter who took over Charles the Chiefs ground game was bound to take a hit. For his part, West has been solid in his four starts, carrying the ball 20 or more times in his last three games. He ran for 110 yards against the Steelers and totaled 122 yards a week later against the Lions and has scored four times over the last three weeks.

Key Players: Defense

LB Justin Houston, LB Tamba Hali, S Eric Berry, CB Marcus Peters

Over the last two seasons Hali has not been the dominant pass rusher he has been for much of his career, totaling 9.5 sacks over his last 25 games, after bringing the quarterback down 46.5 times from 2010-2013. Still, the 10-year vet is a formidable player on the edge.

Meanwhile, Houston ranks among, if not above, the best edge rushers in the league. He just about single-handedly derailed the Chargers playoff hopes in the 2014 season finale after he spent the entire afternoon terrorizing Philip Rivers to the tune of four sacks. So, yeah, he's capable of being the deciding factor in Sunday's game.

Eric Berry is back on the field in 2015 after being deemed clear of the Hodgkins lymphoma he was diagnosed with in December of last year. Truly remarkable. As is Berry as a player. Berry, who is a free agent next season, is one of the best safeties in the game. Rangy and athletic, he excels against both the run and pass and is an instinctive player who can identify what the offense wants to do at the line of scrimmage and reacts accordingly.

Joining Berry in the secondary is, perhaps, the defensive rookie of the year in Marcus Peters. The first round pick out of Washington has excelled at the NFL level despite getting kicked off of his college team in his final season as a Husky. Despite the character red flags, what was known about Peters entering the 2014 draft was that he was one of the top corners available. The Chiefs took a chance and it's paid dividends time and again this season as Peters leads the team with four interceptions. Peters possesses prototypical size for the position and is a fluid athlete who excels in man coverage due to his physicality.