Through the first four games of the San Diego Chargers' season, it seemed as if the Chargers would have a so-so season with a possible playoff appearance, with two of their losses by a margin of three points; vs. the Houston Texans 28-31, and at the Tennesee Titans 17-20, a problem that could be fixed as the season progressed, as long as Rivers stayed consistent.
First 4 games (2-2): 11 TDs, 2 INT, 1,199 YDS, 72.8 percent
Next 4 games (2-2): 6 TDs, 5 INT, 1,274 YDS , 71.8 percent
Last 2 games (0-2): 2 TDs, 1 INT, 516 YDS, 65.1 percent
If the Chargers can't get Rivers going against the Chiefs' No. 9 ranked pass defense, they should be able to utilize the running game against their No. 20 ranked defense. Here's the Chargers' success when utilizing Ryan Mathews and/or Danny Woodhead, and others:
- 4-0 averaging 126.5 yards per game
- 0-6 averaging 84.3 yards per game
The Chargers will most likely want to run against the Chiefs, who have allowed 117.1 rushing yards per game, and 4.7 yards per carry.
Three factors that will determine the game's outcome:
The Chiefs have one of the NFL's most vigorous pass-rushing defenses this season; they are currently in second place for sacks (36), yet after recording 35 sacks in their first seven games, the Chiefs have only recorded one sack in their last three. If the Chiefs cannot put pressure on Rivers, they may be in trouble.
Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead vs. Jamaal Charles:
The Chargers have shown they can utilize Danny Woodhead (665 all-purpose yards) like the Chiefs utilize Jamaal Charles (1,186 all-purpose yards), a pass-catching running back. The Chargers also have Ryan Mathews who they use as their primary running back, compared to the Chiefs who have just Jamaal Charles.
Not to say Charles isn't a better player than both, yet fatigue will set in like any other player, and the Chargers will have another playmaker that will serve as an substitute. Before Dwayne Bowe's 57-yard game last week, Charles led the team in rushing and receiving yards.
Alex Smith vs Philip Rivers and his defense:
Smith has a better chance to win this matchup, especially at home; this comes down to who can take care of the ball better, and who can utilize their few playmakers on offense. While Smith's main targets are Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, and Donnie Avery; Rivers can depend on Antonio Gates, Danny Woodhead, and Ryan Mathews; Smith has the advantage of being at home, and the high upside in Jamaal Charles and his receiving corps, the Chargers' defense will need to make big plays.
- less likely to throw an interception
- less likely to throw a touchdown pass
- more likely to throw an interception
- more likely to throw touchdown passes
If the Chargers cannot utilize the running game, Rivers will need to be a near-perfect passer; Smith may not have to throw a touchdown pass with the versatility of Jamaal Charles.