Chiefs

Keenan4

 

 

The 2016 season is finally here. For some Chargers fans, it’s another season to be excited while for the rest of the fans it’s another season of getting ready for let downs.

Starting the season off against the Chiefs IN Arrowhead is monumentally huge for the Chargers. The last time these teams met for an important game was Week 17 of the 2014 season. If the Chargers won, they would get into playoffs. Unfortunately, they would play like absolute trash against Chase Daniel, and Justin Houston single-handedly stalled the Chargers offense and had them rattled the entire game with four sacks and a forced fumble.

During the 2015 season, the Chargers failed to score a touchdown in either game against the Chiefs, losing the games 33-3 and 10-3, respectively.

Now, dating back to that Week 17 game in 2014, the Bolts have missed a key component in all three games since, Keenan “Secondary Slayer” Allen. It’s no secret to anybody or any team in the league just how good Allen is. His most impressive season was his rookie season, by far, where Malcom Floyd went down with a serious neck injury. Allen stepped in Week 2 and from there on, amassed a stat line of 71 receptions, 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. He followed that season up with 77 receptions, 783 yards and four scores. Injuries had an impact on those years and it felt like every other week he was dealing with something new. He played the first meet up between the Bolts and Chiefs, where the Chiefs did win 23-20, but Allen contributed fairly well with six receptions for 58 yards.

KA13 was on a historic pace last season where he compiled 67 receptions through eight games, putting him on pace for 134 all season. He was putting in a different level of work. Unfortunately for him and the Chargers, an outstanding circus catch against Baltimore — which resulted in one of the greatest touchdowns of the season — ended his 2015 campaign due to suffering a lacerated kidney, forcing him to miss both ’15 contests against Kansas City.

Now, the focus is on Week 1 in Arrowhead where the Chargers will not be seeing Justin Houston, who has tormented the Chargers, or Jamaal Charles, whose speed and elusiveness is and always will be a pain to cover. Tamba Hali is dealing with knee problems but is expected to play on a short workload and the same goes for Phillip Gaines.

As for the Bolts, knock on wood, everybody is healthy. All 22 starters will be playing. Yes, that’s right; even Keenan Allen. The Chargers have a rough time playing in Arrowhead where they are winless in their last two seasons. Their last win came in 2013 and featured a game-winning touchdown with about 20 seconds left from Philip Rivers to former Bolt Seyi Ajirotutu. The Bolts won that game 41-38. Chargers have an all time record of 55-56-1 against the Chiefs and can tie their record with a win Sunday.

 

The Chargers added Brandon Mebane to stuff the middle and to free up Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, Kyle Emanuel and others for one-on-ones. We all have seen what Liuget can do going one-on-one with people. Add the fact that this is a contract year for Ingram and Denzel Perryman’s first season as a full-time starter, and I believe the Chargers have some heat the Chiefs are going to struggle with.

A huge factor to this game will be pressure. The Bolts have an up-and-coming defense; young, fresh and fast. But they need to play up to their potential right out of the gates.

The offense features Philip Rivers at the helm, and with him you always have a chance to win. He may have the best offense he’s had in years with Antonio Gates, Allen, Danny Woodhead, Travis Benjamin, a revamped Gordon and a O-line where as long as they stay healthy, and that’s a stretch, they should provide Philip with more than enough time to get the job done.

 

In a way, this is a trap game for Kansas City. Everybody is writing the Chargers off immediately. Nobody is giving them a chance.

This is a huge game for the Bolts and they know that. Coming in Week 1, the start of a new season, against a rival and coming home with a win can seriously put an enormous amount of energy and hope moving forward in the season.

Controlling the clock and field position is huge. Sustaining long drives and coming away with more than 3 points is critical. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is back, so expect a variety of plays from all types of different formations. It will be tremendously loud and the team will have to overcome a lot of adversity early in the season, but if it’s any Chargers team of late that I think can do it, it’s this one.

Assuming that everything goes right for the Chargers and they come out and play to their potential, I can see a realistic scenario where they win by a margin of 10-13 points. My prediction is 27-17 Chargers. But if they come out and play sloppy and are lethargic, it could be a very long day and could shape up to be a disappointing loss.

By all means, do not sleep on the Chiefs! They are a dangerous squad. They might be perhaps the most complete team in the AFC West with Houston and Charles at full health. But neither of them are playing on Sunday, so the Bolts must take advantage.

I do expect Gordon’s first NFL touchdown coming in a 20-plus-yard run fashion or a catch-and-run. Keenan Allen is the X-factor in this one. He’ll create tons of space for the rest of the offense and the same goes for Benjamin. The Chiefs haven’t faced a Chargers team like this in a while.

What a great game to kickoff the 2016 season.

 

Good luck, Bolts!

Charlie LaFurno

@CharlieMack29

Rivers13

 

When the average football fan thinks about the best quarterbacks currently in the league, they acknowledge Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees as the best in the NFL, and understandably so. But why does Philip Rivers continue to get overlooked? Why can’t he be considered a top-5 or even top-3 signal caller?

Or can he?

It goes without saying that the quarterback position is the most important position in football. Rarely do you see teams succeed without quality quarterback play.

Take the Broncos and Manning last season as an example. The Broncos’ defense was great. Statistically, Peyton had the worst season of his career and had a below average playoffs. But his leadership qualities and his football-genius mind was enough to lead the Broncos to a title (which still haunts me). If you were to put any other QB that had that kind of season that wasn’t Peyton, the Broncos don’t have a Championship right now. Having a quarterback who can take full command of the offense and be trusted day-in and day-out to lead your team to a victory no matter what the scenario is, should be treasured.

Philip Rivers is the embodiment of leadership.

In 2004, the Chargers selected Eli Manning with their 1st overall pick in the draft. However, Eli made it clear he did not want to play for the Chargers. Three picks later, the Giants picked Philip with the 4th pick and the teams managed to come to an agreement that included the Giants getting Eli and, in exchange, the Chargers got Rivers, a 2005 first-rounder which turned into Shawne Merriman, and a 2005 fifth-round pick in which the Chargers traded to Tampa for offensive tackle Roman Oben.

The Chargers were then stuck with a tough decision following the 2005 season: should they go with Drew Brees or Rivers as the team’s quarterback. The choice was obvious in Rivers, as Brees had injury concerns due to a shoulder ailment suffered at the end of the previous season.

In 2006, Rivers’ first full season as the starter under center, he took full advantage of the promotion, throwing 22 touchdowns with nine interceptions and 3,388 yards. Impressive, right? What’s more impressive is the 14-2 record the Chargers produced. Now, of course they benefitted from a historic year from LaDainian Tomlinson, but that is still quite a welcoming to the league for him.

Philip has had a great career in San Diego. There can be endless arguments made as to whether or not quarterbacks like Big Ben, Brady, Rodgers, et cetera are to be considered better than No. 17, having more successful careers even though some of them have benefitted from having great defenses, numerous groupings of clutch players and, most importantly, great coaching.

Philip also has a trait that only he and Eli stand up atop the list among active QBs for… DURABILITY. Including the playoffs, Rivers has started 169 consecutive games. That’s 10 full seasons and nine games of another. When you put into perspective that he tore his ACL against the Colts in the 2007 playoffs and came back in the AFC championship  after surgery to play, it tells you a lot about the toughness and leadership he wields.

Another gritty performance that is framed in my mind is in 2014 in the latter half of the year. Philip was dealing with back spasms against the 49ers. He led a furious comeback win in overtime despite having a bum back. Health or off-the-field issues have never been a problem for Rivers.

It goes without saying that Rivers isn’t the best QB in terms of rings or playoff wins. Now that being said, he brings one quality that next to nobody can match, and that is competitiveness. It doesn’t matter if you’re a punter, water boy or 330-pound defensive lineman, Philip will always be in your face. Even if he’s having an off-game, his mouth is always running. The heart and devotion he pours into the Chargers isn’t comparable to any others. The energy Rivers brings to the team is both fierce and contagious. He’s able to develop chemistry with his players exceptionally well,which is evidenced in his relationships with players such as Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen and, obviously, Antonio Gates.

In 2013 against the Denver Broncos on TNF, the Chargers took the 11-2 Broncos down at Mile High. This performance had to have been my favorite; not only because of what proved to be a very crucial game in an improbable Chargers’ playoff run, but because Rivers handled it like it was just another day at the office. He was out there as competitive as ever, having a good time.

Being a huge fan of Brady, a fan of Brees since the SD days, liking Rodgers cause he’s a surgeon while slinging the rock, I still feel confident in saying that none of the aforementioned signal callers can match Philip’s intensity. That is a really good thing going into this season, because this is a sneaky good team on both sides of the ball.

If Philip can get these young rookies’ heads on straight quickly, this team can be very scary. I truly stand by my opinion when I say the resurgence of Melvin Gordon and the O-Line staying healthy will give Rivers the opportunity to cement his status as a top-3 QB this year. As long as this roster continues to gel and get better, he should have multiple shots at championships, and that might be the only thing separating him from being thrown into the mix with everyone else’s favorite quarterbacks.

Rivers is currently 14th all-time on the passing list with 41,447 yards, and can move into 7th or 8th with a 4,500-yard-plus campaign. He also has 281 passing TDs, which is ranked 11th in NFL history; having as little as 20-25 touchdowns this could move him up three or four spots. All of this is incredible when you realize that he didn’t start for the first two years of his career.

In comparing him to another Chargers great, Dan Fouts, let’s take a look on how their stats match up.

Fouts had a 14-year career in San Diego ranging from 1973-1987. Philip has been in the league for 12 years now, so their stats should match up similarly, right? Well, in terms of durability, they’re both as reliable as super glue for a school project. Fouts played in 181 games in his career and started 171, while Philip has played in 164 and started 160.

A lot of people consider accuracy to be the main ingredient in selecting a QB. While Fouts does have roughly 2,000 more career passing yards — 43,040– than Rivers — 41,447 — while his accuracy is far worse. In fact, Philip makes Fouts look little league when I researched each of their completion percentages.

Rivers boasts a 281-135 touchdown-to-interception ratio, while as Fouts holds a 254-242 ratio. Rivers’ career completion percentage of 64.8 is exactly 6% points higher than that of Fouts (58.8%). Total QBR — Quarterback rating — is another stat in which Philip takes a dominant lead on Fouts. Philip clocks in with a whopping 95.5 QBR compared to Fouts’ number of 80.2.

In terms of records, Philip also grabs the crown. Rivers has piled up a 92-68 record and Fouts had 86-84-1 record. Fouts does have an MVP award and one more Pro-Bowl nod than Rivers, six to five, respectively.

In 1993, Fouts was elected to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Rivers still has a couple of years or so to grab every possible passing statistic in Chargers history and, furthermore, climb up the NFL’s all-time passing ranks. So in that theory, I very much expect Philip to be a sure-lock for the Hall Of Fame.

Now, lets take a look and compare his stats to his fellow 2004 draftees, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

While you can easily say that both of them have the easy edge over Rivers by having 2 rings, that doesn’t define one player as a whole. I did some research and noted that both Ben and Eli started the year they were drafted. Philip did not start a game until the 2006 season. But what shocks me most is that Philip isn’t too far behind in stats and, in fact, had the same kind of seasons, if not better seasons, the years Ben and Eli won their respective rings.

We can look at Eli’s numbers first. In 2007, the year the Giants made history and took down the Patriots, Eli’s stat-line finished with 23 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 3,336 yards and a 56.1 completion percentage. Philip had almost identical numbers that season with 21 touchdowns 15 interceptions, 3,152 yards and a 60.1 completion percentage. You could even make a case that had Philip not torn his ACL those playoffs, that Chargers-Patriots game would have finished with a different victor.

Next, let’s touch base on Big Ben’s 2008 championship season.

Roethlisberger’s stat-line for that year included 17 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 3,301 yards and a 59.9 completion percentage. Now, at the end of the day, he won a ring, but Philip’s 2008 season was far superior. In fact, that could’ve been Philip’s best year stat-wise, despite the Bolts finishing 8-8. He produced 34 touchdowns to just 11 Interceptions with a completion percentage of 65.5, boasting an outstanding QB rating of 105.5.

Has Philip had the success both Eli and Ben have had in terms of winning rings? No. Has he put his team on his back more and given his teammates more opportunities to win? Certainly.

Philip currently ranks behind both of them on the all-time leaderboards for passing. Rivers is ranked 14th behind Ben by about 1,500 yards, and is behind Eli — 11th — by roughly 3,000.

In my honest opinion, I believe when it’s all said and done, he’ll be above both of them. Additionally, he’s 11th on the passing TDs leaderboard — in front of Ben by nine touchdowns and behind Eli by 13.

Taking these facts and stats into consideration, the rings weigh a huge amount in terms of Philip not getting the credit he deserves.

So, while there might a small strain of bias on my part, I ensure you that Philip is everything I have made him out to be in this article, and everything he’s proven via the numbers provided above. He’s a franchise QB, a positive role model on and off the field and a rare leader, competitor and talent that you won’t come across very often. It is also worth noting, he’s a damn good dresser. You can never go wrong with rattlesnake-skin boots and a bolo tie.

I encourage you all to tune into some Chargers games this season and check him out and let me know what you think.

 

Where does Philip rank on your list? Let me know in the comment section below.

 

Charlie LaFurno

@CharlieMack29

 

 

AFCWEST

A lot of big name free agents are finding their new homes in the AFC West.  Our beloved San Diego Chargers are standing pat, preferring to add depth and build through the draft.  Its hard to look at the names settling into Kansas City and Denver and not be concerned about the Chargers strategy.

  Peyton Manning cruised into Denver this past season and propelled the Broncos into the number one seed in the AFC West, highlighted by a ten game winning streak to finish the season.  In the offseason, the Broncos continue to add weapons.  The major coup is the acquisition of slot receiver Wes Welker from New England.  They also added DT Terrance Knighton from Jacksonville and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in addition to swiping OG Louis Vasquez from the Chargers.  The Broncos have added big names to offense and defense in addition to weakening a division rival in a primary need area.  The Broncos are also currently in the mix to bring in DE Dwight Freeney from Indianapolis.

  Kansas City inexplicably went 2-14 last season, a season that looked promising with the return of feature back Jamaal Charles, TE Tony Moeaki, and S Eric Berry; all of whom missed the season before with devastating injuries.  The Chiefs failed to live up to their potential despite sending six players to the Pro Bowl last season.  In the offseason the Chiefs decided quarterback Matt Cassel was not the answer and signed free agent QB Alex Smith of the 49ers, expendable after the meteoric rise of Colin Kaepernick.  The Chiefs have also added CB Sean Smith, TE Anthony Fasano, DB Dunta Robinson, WR Donnie Avery and QB Chase Daniel.

  The Oakland Raiders…remain the Oakland Raiders.  Their biggest free agent signing has been OLB Kevin Burnett.  They have been busy letting their few good players go.  CB Michael Huff, WR Darius Heyward-Bey, P Shane Lechler have all been shown the door and quarterback Carson Palmer is on his way out as well.  The punchline is the Raiders are kicking the tires on the return of…Vince Young?

  So, for at least two of the other three teams in the division, lots of heavy hitters and impact players are signing up while the Chargers are content with CB Derek Cox as the only sure fire starter signing.  Are the Chargers right to follow this path? Consider these observations.

  The Raiders deserve no consideration.  The Chargers have beaten the Raiders 15 out of their last 17 games with the only aberration being a Raiders sweep in 2011.  The beatings will continue.  Vince Young.  Nuff said.

  Even with the return of their injured Pro Bowlers, Kansas City was an abject failure, unable to execute in any facet of the game.  Cassel was terrible, eventually losing his job to Brady Quinn.  Charles has a nice comeback season but was missing in the box score some games.  The Chiefs were swept by the Chargers by a total combined score of 68-33.  The Chiefs have to overhaul their team and they’re starting by signing every free agent who will get on a plane.  To Kansas City, San Diego is the Joneses.  Forget Denver, KC must revamp the lineup just to keep up with the Chargers!

  In Denver, the rich get richer.  Peyton Manning is gifted the most dangerous slot receiver in Welker. Manning had the most completions to the slot receiver of any quarterback in the league which could make Welker even more lethal than he was in New England.  Cromartie and Knighton were once bigger names than they are now but they are names fans know.  Freeney’s best days are behind him but Manning wants him in Denver and usually what Peyton wants, Peyton gets.  Signing Vasquez had the dual purpose of adding even more protection to an already sturdy Broncos offensive line while weakening the Chargers even more at their most vulnerable position.

  Denver has ascended to the top of the division and are the team to beat.  Lots of flashy names are rolling by but the Chargers are still the team to challenge them for the division.  Even with their many shortcomings, the Chargers were one dropped pass, one failed 4th and 29 stop and one helmet to helmet hit from being a ten win team last season.  That’s not considering the Monday Night meltdown in San Diego against the Broncos.  The Chargers dominated the Broncos to the tune of 24-0 at halftime before the wheels fell off and Denver ran off five unanswered touchdowns in the second half.  The Broncos only won the second game by a touchdown.  More importantly, losing DE Elvis Dumervil and OLB DJ Williams can have an adverse effect on the defense that allowed the Chargers 23.5 points against them last season.

  The point in this diatribe is do not be distracted by all the flashy cars passing us on the highway headed to Denver and Kansas City.  The Chargers are taking the right approach.  The Chargers are still the second best team in the AFC West.  General Manager Tom Telesco is plodding along and adding solid, versatile players undaunted by the high volume of signings in the division.  Beware the “Dream Team” style rash of big name signings going to one team  ala the 2011 Eagles.  This could be one more example of the tortoise (Telesco) catching the hare (Elway).

Greg Williams

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