The Kansas City Chiefs will try to knock off the San Diego Chargers this weekend to take complete control of the AFC West but it won’t be easy.
Let’s take a look at 5 things the Chiefs can do to escape San Diego with a win.
1. Confuse, frustrate and pressure Philip Rivers
I hate admitting it bur Rivers is a fantastic QB. With the injuries San Diego has had this season they could very well be a 3 or 4 win team right now but Rivers put the organization on his are back and carried them to a 6-6 record.
The Chargers have some dangerous and talented pieces but Rivers is the key.
When the Chargers came to Arrowhead to open the season, Romeo Crennel rolled out a fantastic game plan. Rivers was frustrated and inaccurate most of the day and while most experts would attribute his struggles to the weather, the Chiefs would prove a few weeks later in Indianapolis that it was Crennel’s scheme that tripped up the San Diego QB.
We saw another example of this Sunday when the Kansas City secondary befuddled Kyle Orton and the Broncos. Orton only completed 9 passes all day and had the Chiefs offense not continually shot themselves in the foot with penalties, the score would not have been nearly as close.
Crennel has a real knack for disguising coverages and blitzes to frustrate highly efficient passers like Rivers and Manning. It appears this strategy leaves the Chiefs vulnerable in their run defense but it can work as long as the Chiefs offense gets going and scores points.
No QB responds well to pressure but Rivers seems to get particularly frustrated as we saw the first time the Chiefs and Chargers played this year. Rivers was visibly angry during that game, throwing tantrums, kicking footballs and yelling at his teammates.
If the Chiefs can get to Rivers their chances will greatly improve.
2. Take advantage of the bumbling Chargers
If they give you an inch…
The Chiefs have to jump all over any and all San Diego mistakes. The Chargers have been horribly mistake prone this year and those mistakes continued last week when they played the Raiders. The Chargers had two costly turnovers that the Raiders turned into touchdowns.
If KC finds themselves with a short field and a chance to score 7, they must execute.
3. Take the points
Todd Haley has got to start taking the points.
I know many of you like his aggressive style and most of the time, I do to, but the facts are the facts and if Haley keeps passing up points it is going to end up costing the Chiefs a victory.
It is obvious now that the first Broncos game was an aberration. The Chiefs have been very competitive in 11 of their 12 games.
Other than the Broncos blowout, the Chiefs have lost games this season by 10, 4, and 3 points.
They have won four of their games by 7, 2, 4 and 4 points.
That means 7 of the KC’s 12 games have been decided by an average of 4.9 points.
I don’t know about you, but I’d feel a heck of a lot more comfortable with an extra 3 points in those games.
What Haley did Sunday when he went for it on 4th down against the Broncos was foolhardy. He passed up a chance to go up two scores on a team his defense had been holding in check all day. At home.
Because of that, the Broncos spent the 4th quarter one play away from taking the lead instead of merely tying things up.
The Chiefs had better try to keep the Chargers trailing at least by 7 points on Sunday because Philip Rivers and that offense could score on any play.
4. Play mistake free football
This is a key to victory every week but playing mistake free football will be especially critical for the Chiefs in San Diego. The Chargers are very mistake prone and the Chiefs can’t help them out by producing their own blunders.
If I were Todd Haley, I would show the team tape from the Chiefs/Raiders game from earlier this season. The Raiders were doing everything they could to hand the Chiefs a victory on a silver platter but the Chiefs gave it right back to them with a host of their own mistakes and errors.
Smart football teams limit mistakes and take advantage of their opponent’s missteps. If the Chiefs can do that Sunday, they’ll likely be a playoff team.
5. Get the ball to Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster as much as possible
Charles and McCluster are so dangerous the Chiefs need to have the ball in their hands more often than not. McCluster nearly had a huge run on Sunday that would have iced the game against the Broncos had Terrance Copper not been called for a bogus holding penalty. These guys are dangerous.
Remember it was Charles and McCluster who teamed up to beat the Chargers at Arrowhead. A big TD run by Charles and a punt return by McCluster gave the Chiefs 14 of their 21 points that day.
The Chiefs need to maximize their big play potential in this one. If they can get out to an early lead and completely take the Chargers running game (and the crowd) out of the equation, I like their chances.
What do you think Addicts? What are your 5 keys to victory this Sunday?