The Monday Night Football contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers has all the ingredients for an upset. While you won’t find an expert in his or her right mind that will actually pick the Chiefs to win next Monday night, (hey, it wouldn’t be an upset if they did) there are signs that simply can’t be ignored when trying to forecast this AFC West clash.
Let’s take a look at the factors that could just swing things in favor of the Chiefs.
1. Arrowhead Advantage Returns
In years past, Arrowhead Stadium was one of the most intimidating places to play in the NFL. It was widely believed to be one of the loudest stadiums with the most passionate fans. On top of all that, the Chiefs just didn’t lose there.
Since the team has fallen on hard time, the Arrowhead Advantage has vanished, along with most of the fans. Fed up with multiple losing seasons, the “Sea of Red” has become a “Sea of Empty Red Seats” in recent years.
However, when the Chargers come to town for Monday Night Football, they may feel as though they are stepping back in time to an era where they were in the basement of the AFC West and the mighty Kansas City Chiefs ruled the division.
Simply put, Arrowhead Stadium is going to be rocking come September 13th. Arrowhead has just undergone a major renovation and the Chiefs are returning to MNF for the first time in years. Chiefs fans are excited and optimistic about their football team this year and you can expect they will show up in force to represent their city and their team on the national stage. Combine all of that with what we are hearing are going to be fantastic pregame activities and Philip Rivers won’t be able to hear himself talk when he approaches the line of scrimmage.
If the Chargers can’t take the crowd out of the game early it could be a long night for San Diego.
2. These Aren’t Your Uncle Herm’s Chiefs
This year’s Chiefs team is different. They have come a long way from the groups that Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson trotted out on to the field.
The fact is, that in the preseason, the Chiefs were playing with an intensity that we simply haven’t seen in a while. This was most especially evident in the team’s two home games. Guys like Demorrio Williams, Derrick Johnson, Andy Studebaker and Eric Berry seemed so fired up at times you would have thought they were playing for the AFC Championship rather than for a win in a meaningless exhibition game.
This Chiefs team appears to have a lot more fight and pride than we have witnessed the last couple of years. These players have been thinking about this MNF game since it was announced and I don’t think they intend on showing up to get embarrassed in their own house. If they can use their passion and intensity to focus their game and play mistake free football, they might just surprise the Chargers.
3. The Chargers Are Weakened
The Chargers are always going to have a chance as long as they have Philip Rivers under center. Still, the team has faced a lot of adversity this offseason and the Chiefs have a chance to strike before the Chargers can sort themselves out.
Norv Turner’s team will be missing their franchise LT in Marcus McNiel as well as one of the game’s best receivers in Vincent Jackson. There is also a pretty good chance impact OLB Shawn Merriman will not play.
The Chiefs need to take advantage of the Chargers’ new found weaknesses. To do that, they need to talk to their new running back Thomas Jones.
Jones, as a part of the New York Jets, knocked the Chargers out of the playoffs last year with a combination of QB pressure on defense and a strong running game.
The Chiefs showed strength in both of these areas in the preseason. Romeo Crennel dialed up timely and effective blitzes in the last two preseason games and the Chiefs found previously unknown pass rushing talent in linebackers Andy Studebaker and Demorrio Williams. Combine that with an aggressive and talented Tamba Hali and KC should be able to get pressure on Rivers.
KC’s improved secondary, led by Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry will decrease some of the risk of blitzing. If the Chiefs can keep the heat on Rivers and implement their strong looking running game, an upset could be in the cards.
4. There’s No time Like The First Time
There is no better time for upsets than the opening weekend of the season. The reason, in my opinion, is because the team’s don’t really have an identity yet.
Sure, there are teams out there, like the Chargers, who have been playing together for a while and who will be running a familiar system but every team has new faces. There are big unknowns for all 32 teams heading in to this week’s slate of games. The NFL shows us every year that a team can go from worst to first and from first to worst in the course of a single offseason.
Forget what you saw last season. Forget the drubbing the Chiefs took from the Chargers. It won’t be last year’s Chargers and it won’t be last year’s Chiefs that square off on Monday Night Football.
The Chiefs need to seize the moment and grab the momentum from their crowd and not look back. If they can get the Chargers off balance early, the game just might be over before they can regain their footing. Norv Turner’s team is notorious for getting off to a slow start to their season. Todd Haley’s team is notorious for getting off to slow starts in their games. That can’t happen this week. The Chiefs need to come out swinging and not stop until they hear the bell.
Yes, the odds are long for the Chiefs to beat the Chargers but long odds are what upsets are all about. I for one, like the Chiefs chances in this one.
What do you think, Addicts? What factors do you think will be most important if the Chiefs hope to shock the league on the world stage on Monday Night Football?