by Nate Winkler (@natewinkler)
CHFF Left Coast Groovie
The San Diego Chargers found the perfect cure to end their three game losing streak with a visit from the Kansas City Chiefs to get Week 9 in the NFL started.
The hapless Chiefs committed four turnovers and allowed three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, losing thier fifth straight game by a final score of 31-13. San Diego is now 9-2 against Kansas City in their last 11 meetings.
San Diego now sits at 4-4 with a chance to pull back into a tie for first place in the AFC West if Denver loses in Cincinnati on Sunday, while the Chiefs are now in the driver's seat for the first overall draft pick in April after falling to 1-7.
Here are 5 Things we Learned:
1. Philip Rivers would like to play Kansas City every week.
Despite getting booed on his way to the locker room at halftime, Rivers looked more like the quarterback we saw from 2008 - 2010 as he was in complete control of the game from the start.
Rivers completed his first 13 passes on his way to an 18-20, 220 Yard performance with two touchdowns and one interception that killed another scoring drive. His 10.8 Yards per Attempt was his highest total of the season.
In two games against Kansas City this season he's 36-43 (83.7%) for 429 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs for a Passer Rating of 119.86. He's just 139-220 (63.2%) for 1,437 yards, 8 TDs, 8 INTs and a 78.92 Rating against everyone not named the Chiefs.
2. At some point the Chiefs ownership has to realize the Football Gods just hate Scott Pioli.
Although it's never been proven, many people believe that Pioli made a deal with the Devil himself during his time in New England. How else could you explain winning three Super Bowls in four years with that bunch?
Pioli arrived in Kansas City in 2009 with the opportunity for complete control of the franchise, something he didn't have with Bill Belichick in New England, and has promptly ran the team into the ground.
Two questionable coaching hires as well as a litany of under-performing early round draft picks have the Chiefs back in the bottom of the NFL's barrel, right where Pioli found them four years ago.
They've held the lead for exactly 00:00 after half an NFL season with their lone win coming on a sudden-death field goal in overtime against New Orleans. It's hard to envision a scenario where Pioli or anyone associated with him is still employed in Kansas City by year's end.
3. The Chargers finished strong by leaning on their defense and running game.
Philip Rivers only attempted one pass in the fourth quarter Thursday night, limiting the chances of him making a mistake that would give the Chiefs a chance to make it interesting. Instead, it was San Diego's defense that stepped up, scoring two defensive touchdowns in the final frame at the expense of Matt Cassel.
Cassel was strip-sacked in his own end zone and the ball was recovered by Chargers' linebacker Shaun Phillips, then on the very next possesion threw a tipped-pass interception that former Chief Demorrio Williams returned 59 yards to paydirt.
San Diego finished with 26 rushes for 123 yards for a respectable 4.3 RY/A average while limiting Kansas City to 113 yards on 30 carries (3.8 RY/A). More importantly they allowed Jamaal Charles just 39 yards on 12 carries and didn't give up a rush longer than 15 yards.
4. Overheard from a Chiefs' fan: "I can't wait until Brady Quinn gets healthy."
If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about the Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback situation, you might need a new hobby.
Matt Cassel got his starting job back due to Quinn being concussed last week in his second game as Cassel's replacement. Cassel was his normal 2012 self on Thursday night, posting a 68.3 rating after entering with a season rating of 69.0.
Cassel finished 19-29 (65.5%) for 181 yards (6.2 Y/A) and was responsible for two critical turnovers, but is only partially to blame for the blind-side strip-sack and interception that hit Dexter McCluster in the hands.
It's become painfully clear that Cassel is not the long-term answer at quarterback for the Chiefs and they'd be well served to see if Brady Quinn or even Ricky Stanzi can show them something over the second half of the season.
5. Shouldn't we all know better than to write the Chargers off until they're mathematically out of it?
After a three-game skid and around the clock "Fire Norv" vigils taking place all over San Diego County, it was easy to write off the Chargers as paper tigers. If we've learned anything since Norv Turner has been calling the shots for the Chargers it should be they generally play their best football when his job is on the line.
Despite being in the middle of the pack or worse in most of our CHFF Quality Stats and 24th overall in our Power Rankings, the Chargers find themselves right in the thick of things with a .500 record at the season's halfway point.
The Denver Broncos appear to have the inside track to the division crown but are one neck injury away from being mediocre and the Wild-Card race is wide open with 10 of the 16 teams in the conference sitting with either three or four wins. Just don't tell Norv his job is safe and everything should be fine.