Week 17 GameDay Preview: Chargers (8-7) vs. Chiefs (11-4)
October 15, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Donald Butler (56) during player introductions prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Chargers vs Chiefs
“Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs? I’m just hoping we can win a game, another game.”
-Jim Mora (Coach; Indianapolis Colts)
Yes, this game has playoff implications, but first we have to win this one first AND get some help from the football gods. The Chargers cannot set their sights on anything past the Chiefs. This is it. This one is for all the meat and potatoes. If the Chargers win this game, AND the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens both lose, the Chargers will be heading to the playoffs for the first time in three years. The PLAYOFFS. THREE YEARS. I can’t even contain my excitement for all three games tomorrow.
On November 24, the Chargers went into Kansas City and beat the Chiefs in a shootout, 41-38. Philips Rivers led the Chargers on a couple masterful drives in the 4th quarter to push ahead of the Chiefs. With 24 seconds remaining in the game, Rivers found Seyi Ajirotutu in the back of the endzone for the game-winning TD. Rivers finished that game with just under 400 yards passing and 3 TD. He dominated the heralded Chiefs defense.
Both Tamba Hali and Justin Houston went down with injuries during that game, and the Chiefs were unable to get any pressure on Rivers. Tamba Hali has yet to practice this week, and is OUT tomorrow, ensuring Rivers even more time to throw.
Andy Reid is planning on “mixing and matching” his starters and backups, so MVP-candidate Jamaal Charles and quarterback Alex Smith may not get many snaps. Reid and the Chiefs locked up the 5th playoff spot, so they have nothing to play for, except preventing injuries. As a result, the Chargers are 9.5 point favorites to take down the Chiefs at home. The Chargers may not completely control their own destiny, but they must win this game to even have a shot at the playoffs.
Regardless of what happens, I fully believe that the culture has changed. TT and MM did a great job of flipping the script in San Diego. Yes, we still lost some unexplainable games. Yes, we are still fighting until the very end. But, the Chargers have guys on the squad that not only want to work and want to win, but expect to win. It’s been an encouraging season for Chargers fans, so here’s to extending it a bit longer.
Both the Ravens and Dolphins must lose on Sunday in addition to a Chargers win at home for the Chargers to take the final wildcard spot. Both games are being shown at 1:00 on CBS, so the game shown will vary based on your location. Make sure to stay tuned on the Boltbeat game thread for updates on the Chargers playoff chances.
Miami Dolphins (8-7) vs. New York Jets (7-8) @ 1:00 PM PST on CBS
Baltimore Ravens (8-7) @ Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) @ 1:00 PM PST on CBS
It only helps that Andy Reid is thinking about resting the starters after a couple series on Sunday. Reid said:
“The obvious benefit is that you rest your guys. You get back feeling fresher than what you were in the end of the season.”
This would be a huge help to the Chargers, who will prepare for the Chiefs starters anyway. Any little help we can get will be huge in a game that could mean playoffs or stay home.
CHARGERS VS. CHIEFS IN HISTORY
The Chargers are 54-52-1 against the Kansas City Chiefs all time.
The Chargers are 1-0 against the Chiefs this season.
During the Philip Rivers era (officially starting in 2006), the Chargers are 11-4 against the Chiefs, and 6-1 at home.
CHARGERS INJURY REPORT
G, Jeromey Clary
RB, Ryan Mathews
DT, Sean Lissemore
CB, Shareece Wright
OLB, Thomas Keiser
CB, Shareece Wright
CHIEFS INJURY REPORT
LT, Branden Albert
RT, Eric Fisher
OLB, Justin Houston
LB, James-Michael Johnson
CB, Ron Parker
OT, Donald Stephenson
K, Ryan Succop
WR, Dwayne Bowe
OLB, Tamba Hali
GAME CHANGER ON OFFENSE
King Dunlap. Tamba Hali is out, but Justin Houston is still active for the Chiefs. The Chiefs’ defense plays infinitely better when they are able to get pressure on the quarterback and give their defensive backs some easy deflections or picks. King Dunlap has played very well this season, despite missing a few games with multiple concussions. King Dunlap will likely be taking on Justin Houston 1-on-1 for a good amount of snaps, and he must hold his own like he has been doing this season. This could also be Dunlap’s last chance to prove that he could be a long-term solution at left tackle before free agency and the draft.
GAME CHANGER ON DEFENSE
Donald Butler. Butler will most likely be charged with keeping an eye on Jamaal Charles, the man with almost 2000 all-purpose yards and 19 TDs in the air and on the ground. Charles is the entire Chiefs offense (their leading rusher and receiver), and Butler will need to lead to keep an eye on him at all times. This is also Butler’s last game under his rookie contract. Butler hasn’t played as well as anticipated this season, but he is still the best LB on the roster. Butler needs to prove his worth in this game, as it could mean the difference of a few million dollars, or a new team. Hopefully Donald Butler will prove to TT and the fans that he is deserving of an extension.
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
43. Keenan Allen needs only 43 more yards receiving to surpass 1000 on the season. Allen has really jumpstarted this offense, proving to be TT’s biggest draft gem and Rivers’ favorite target. Even with all the praise Philip Rivers and Ken Whisenhunt are receiving, without Allen, the Chargers would not be in this position. Allen would be the first rookie receiver since AJ Green to surpass 1000-yards receiving. The future looks bright for Allen and the Chargers offense (please stay, Whiz).
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“We have one priority this weekend and that’s to get a win.”
– Coach Mike McCoy
The Chargers are +9.5 point favorite at home against the Chiefs that are going to rest a bunch of starters. I predict that the Chargers will beat the spread and defeat the Chiefs for the second time this season 31-17. With the win, the Chargers playoff hopes will rest in the hands of Geno Smith and the New York Jets and Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals.