Actually, quite a few things. If I had to make a list, it would probably take a while. This game slots in somewhere between re-organizing my back yard after Hurricane Sandy and watching somebody on CNN talk about swing states for the one billionth time.
I kid, I kid. This is the NFL, after all, and there are all sorts of (betting and fantasy) implications at play here. Will Jamaal Charles get more than five carries this week? Will Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates break out of their 2012 funks? Will Matt Cassel stick to throwing passes to his teammates rather than his opponents?
Questions, so many questions. Let's take a stab at a few answers as we preview the Chiefs versus Chargers showdown.
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
When: Thursday, November 1 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Spread: San Diego (-9), according to Bovada
I really like taking the points with Kansas City in this game. Yes, I know the Chiefs lost 37-20 when the two teams met in Week 4, but the Chargers promptly lost three straight following that game, including Sunday's 7-6 stinker against the Cleveland Browns.
Yes, the Chiefs have lost four in a row and are playing miserable football, but in a Divisional rivalry game I can't predict San Diego to win by double-digit points. The Chargers should win, but it will be closer than you might expect.
Over/Under: 42.5, according to Bovada
The Chiefs are allowing 29.9 points per game (29th in NFL). The Chargers are allowing 20.9 (eighth in NFL) but gave up 27 or more points in three straight games before they and the Browns put everyone to sleep last week.
Take the over.
Chiefs Injuries (via ESPN)
QB Brady Quinn, Head, Out
DE Glenn Dorsey, Out
RB Peyton Hillis, Ankle, Probable
Chargers Injuries (via ESPN)
WR Robert Meachem, Hamstring, Questionable
CB Shareece Wright, Probable
WR Eddie Royal, Hamstring, Questionable
WR Richard Goodman, Hamstring, Injured Reserve
Fantasy Impact for Chiefs
Start Jamaal Charles every week, no questions asked. He'll be given more than five carries in the first quarter against the Chargers or everyone in Kansas City outside of the food vendors will be fired, you can believe that.
I like Dwayne Bowe as well. With Matt Cassel back in the starting role and a Chargers team allowing 24.5 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers each week (22nd in NFL), Bowe should be a decent WR2 and strong flex play this week.
Don't even think about starting any other player on this team.
Fantasy Impact for Chargers
Though he's been breaking hearts over the past two weeks, I still think you have to start Philip Rivers this week against Kansas City. It's a good matchup for Rivers and a chance to get going once again for a player who hasn't looked like himself this season.
Ryan Mathews and Malcolm Floyd should be started as well.
Antonio Gates is the big question this week, isn't he? Right before the Chargers Week 7 bye, Gates finally rewarded patient fantasy owners with a 20.1-point night in standard-scoring leagues against the Denver Broncos, surpassing the total amount of fantasy points he had up to that point in the season.
And then he caught two passes for 14 yards and no touchdowns against the Browns. Yuck.
Honestly, I don't trust Gates any more, and the Chiefs allow just 6.4 fantasy points to opposing tight ends (11th in NFL). He's not a bad play, but he's no longer a must-start player, either.
San Diego's defense isn't a terrible play if you're in a pinch, but don't expect too much. Sit everyone else.
Keys to Chiefs Win
- Jamaal Charles must be the key factor in Kansas City's offensive game-plan. His five carries against the Oakland Raiders were ridiculous. He's easily the best player on this team, its most dangerous weapon and the one guy who has consistently produced when given the opportunity.
- Matt Cassel must limit his turnovers. The 15 he has on the season have been killers, and the Kansas City defense has had enough trouble stopping opponents without the offense simply giving the ball right back when they do get a stop.
- Pressure Philip Rivers. Given time, he'll skewer most secondaries. But if you get in his face and flush him out of the pocket, he's not nearly as effective.
Keys Chargers Win
- In Ryan Mathews they must trust, fumble concerns or not. The Chiefs allow 126.4 rushing yards per game (23rd in NFL), and Mathews is due for a big game. If they run successfully and control the clock, Kansas City's defense will eventually crack and the offensive floodgates will burst open for San Diego.
- Antonio Gates needs to show up. When he's a threat over the middle, Rivers has an easy out against pressure and defenses have to pay him attention rather than sinking safeties over the top. There are big plays to be had against the Chiefs, but not if Gates isn't a threat.
- Stop the run. The Chiefs are third in the NFL in rushing offense (155.1 yards per game), so that's no easy feat. But if you can stuff them on the ground, you force Matt Cassel to try and win the game. Given that he already has 15 turnovers on the year, that's a good place to be for a defense.
The Chiefs are really bad, the Chargers are just okay and this one will probably be a sloppy—albeit entertaining—game. Look for the Chargers to survive with a 28-20 win.
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