SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-2) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-3)
Monday, 8:30 P.M., ET, ESPN, SIRIUS (SD 92, KC 93)
It's Monday Night Football. It's an AFC West game between perennial contender San Diego and Kansas City, a team left for dead two weeks ago. And each team wants to pretend it's something it's not. How appropriate it is to play on Halloween.
San Diego, notorious for inconsistency and slow starts in the first half of the season, wants to act like a tough-minded run-first football team determined to go on a deep playoff run. So far, their division opponents are letting them get away with it.
Meanwhile, word is that hard-nosed Chiefs coach Todd Haley is trying to relate differently to his players by lightening up. Tom Coughlin did with the Giants and ended up in the Super Bowl. It makes for a nice story, especially when combined with Kansas City's cupcake schedule in the last three games. For the record, Kansas City is the defending division champion.
What To Watch
Can the Chiefs defense force Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers into another bad game as the Jets did last Sunday? They'd better, because the Chiefs do not have the offensive firepower to do what the Jets did. Kansas City's defense forced six turnovers and scored 14 of the team's 28 points last week against Oakland, but that was against the comically bad combo of Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer.
The Chargers have been their own worst enemy when in opponents' territory. If they clean that up, they are a force. Last week, red zone threats Mike Tolbert and Antonio Gates reasserted themselves in the gameplan, accounting for three touchdowns in three trips inside the twenty. With Tolbert and Ryan Mathews both running well, Norv Turner's team wants to become less reliant on the pass, and more capable of controlling games. However, their defense has been equally vulnerable to committed running attacks.
Kansas City has leaned on the running game more since Jamaal Charles' injury. With the way Jackie Battle is running (5.2 yards/attempt), Charles could see less playing time when he returns next season.
Who Will Win
San Diego to Kansas City: "You are sitting in my seat." The Chargers will assert themselves.
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