The Kansas City Chiefs are sitting on top of the world after coming from behind to upset the New Orleans Saints in the Super Dome. In fact, it was the biggest comeback in team history. It seemed as if this game was all but over after the Saints pulled ahead 24-6 early in the first half. The Chiefs didn’t lie down and fold, though, on the ensuing drive running back Jamaal Charles busted out for a 91-yard touchdown run that ultimately flipped the momentum completely around. The Chiefs would go on to score 18 straight points, including a game tying 43-yard field goal by Ryan Succop with time dwindling down in the fourth quarter. Succop also completed the comeback in overtime with a 31-yard field goal to secure the 27-24 victory. The San Diego Chargers on the other hand, well, didn’t even seem to have much of a pulse at home. The Falcons dominated the Chargers on offense and defense, capturing the 27-3 victory. It could have been much uglier if the Falcons didn’t want to just play keep-away in the second half. The Chargers will certainly need to wake up heading into a hostile environment at Arrowhead in week 4.
The Chargers seemed like a flashy pick last week: the Falcons were heading off a big MNF victory over the Broncos and had to make a west coast trip to San Diego. The Chargers were also in the top-5 in terms of total team defense, and were first in rushing defense. All that coupled with Michael Turner’s DUI arrest it seemed like a reasonable pick to many. However, while the Chargers carry the reputation of being a good team, they may not be as good as in previous years. “This is their year” has become a recurring theme with the Chargers. Loads of talent, but have always seemed to falter in the playoffs, or in last season’s case, not even make the postseason.
The Chargers got off to a promising start in the first two weeks, beating the Raiders and Titans. Perhaps that was a bit of a smokescreen, considering the quality of teams they beat the first two weeks. Last week was their first real test of the season and they failed it miserably, an F if we are going to give a letter grade. In week 1 they faced a dysfunctional Raiders team and scathed by with a 22-14 victory. I know the Raiders beat the Steelers last week, but that has been their Super Bowl of sorts the last several years. They also beat up on a rookie led Titans team under Jake Locker, 38-10. So, it’s easy to see why the red-hot Falcons were going to be a test, a test that would prove or disprove the “this is their year” moniker.
Philip Rivers finished with only 173 yards against a good, but not great Falcons secondary. Running the ball was just as frustrating, with number one back Ryan Mathews rushing for 44 yards on 10 carries. Mathews is quickly approaching bust territory, I know he has been injured and all, but he was drafted with the idea he could churn out 100-yard games consistently. That most definitely hasn’t come to fruition yet. Without a capable running game, Philip Rivers will continue to struggle given the state of the receivers he has to work with. There are teams that can survive without a running game, but this Chargers team does not have the firepower for Rivers to put up 300-yard passing games on a regular basis. Antonio Gates is not the player he once was, nagging injuries and father time is catching up with him, evident by his 32.5-yards per game in 2012. Other options for Rivers include Malcolm Floyd, Robert Meachem, and Eddie Royal. Just from that sentence alone, it easy to note that the Chargers lack a true number one receiver. As I mentioned earlier, the defense was a top-5 unit before last week, but after last week’s drubbing they dropped to 9th, allowing 305 yards per game. I don’t think the defense is the problem, but I think a more accurate read on this unit would be to look at how they fared last year. In 2011 the Chargers ranked 16th defensively, surrendering on average 23.6 points a game and 346 yards. I think by the end of the season this is where the Chargers will sit at.
Chargers vs. Chiefs Spread and Betting Odds:
San Diego Chargers -1.5 (-105)
@ Kansas City Chiefs +1.5 (-115)
Under 44.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Chargers vs. Chiefs Pick:
The Chiefs have plenty of motivation after defeating the Saints the way they did. Instead of giving up, they staged one of the biggest, and perhaps shocking comebacks we will see this season. As bad as the Chiefs looked in the first two weeks against the Falcons and Buffalo, they put together a stellar performance against the Saints. The victory was spearheaded by Jamaal Charles’ 233 yard effort. The Chargers did allow Michael Turner to find room with 80 yards on 14 carries just days after a DUI arrest, so Charles will have a great opportunity to damage once again. I think a big reason for the Chiefs first two weeks was injuries. They were without several key cogs on the defensive side of the ball which rendered them pretty bad. When Brandon Flowers and Tambi Hali are healthy the defense has the potential to be one of the better units in the league. Hali has found great success against the Chargers, with 8.5 sacks in his career. Last week against the Saints the Chiefs held their offense to minus-16 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime, as well as not allowing a first down on their last five possessions.
Arrowhead is one of the more difficult stadiums to play in. The Chargers can tell you that, as they are 3-10 ATS in Kansas City, and I like that trend to continue in week 4. I think the Chargers team we witnessed last week is more of an accurate look at things to come in the future. They simply got exposed against a good team on their home turf. I don’t expect the Chargers to get beat by 20+ every week, but I do not see them competing for a playoff position late in the season. Beating the Raiders and Titans does not impress me much. I fully expect the Arrowhead crowd to be juiced for this one after knocking off the Saints. The Chiefs will ride this energy to an all-important victory over an AFC West rival.
PICK = Chiefs +1.5