The staff at BoltBlitz.com gives their picks and analysis of Sunday’s game.
Zak Darman: KC is without Justin Houston and Jamaal Charles, arguably the two best players on the KC roster. Tamba Hali is banged up and Alex Smith is still Alex Smith. BUT, Mike McCoy and John Pagano are still here. The Bolts are without their 3rd overall pick and we still don’t know if they can stop the run yet. The defense should be better and the offense should be immensely better with the additions of Travis Benjamin and Offensive Coordinator Ken Wisenhunt. My fear is the Chargers start out sloppy and slow, as we normally see, and dig themselves too big of a hole to climb out of. It will be closer than many think, but the Chiefs are still deeper than the Chargers and have better talent at most of the skill positions. 24-20 Chiefs
Travis Blake: Contrary to popular opinion, this game is not a low scoring defensive battle many pundits were predicting. Chargers get down early 7-0 but rally back midway through the second quarter and never trail again. Melvin Gordon runs for 99 yards and his first regular season rushing touchdown on a draw play from just outside the red zone. A comeback hopeful drive late in the 4th quarter stalls for the Chiefs as Melvin Ingram gets the strip sack to end the game! Boom! #boltpredictions. Bolts 31, Chiefs 27.
Corey Decker: The Chargers are going into one of the loudest stadiums in the entire national football league. Which means they will be primed and ready to upset the home team. Almost every touchdown in the first three preseason games was scored by the first string, which is a very good sign that the Chargers will score at least one touchdown in the first quarter. The bolts will trail 14-7 going into half time, but will score one touchdown in each of the 3rd and 4th quarters. The Chiefs will kick a field goal with less than a minute remaining and then fail on an onside kick attempt. This game will be close like most division games are. There are a lot of guys that didn’t see much action last season playing which means they are hungry. Chargers 21-17
Cheryl White: Melvin Gordon scores his and the teams first touchdown; the team will be itching to get some work in. KC’s defense will be off kilter a bit w/o Houston and Matt Slauson will show the O-line how to play with NFC North nastiness. Add in touchdowns by Gates and Slayer with good field position for a change courtesy of Benjamin or whomever runs it back. 24-21 Bolts
Chris Hoke: Chargers overcome slouchy first half and squeeze past the Chiefs led by a stingy second half defense and the arm of Rivers. Josh Lambo hits a field goal in OT as the Chargers leave KC victorious. 24-21 bolts
Mike Pisciotta Kansas City’s front 7, even with the absence of Justin Houston will stuff Melvin Gordon and force the offense to become one dimensional. With Joey Bosa out, the Chief’s offense will take advantage with Jamaal Charles and Charcandric West and run all over the Chargers defense. KC 24-17 winners
Will McCafferty: If a healthy Bolt squad can’t beat a banged up KC team, they are in real trouble. 27-24 Bolts
Greg Williams: D will stuff what is left of Chiefs running game. No Justin Houston means they can double Hali without consequence. Chargers will lead wire to wire and game manager Smith will throw two picks trying to play catch-up. Rivers lights up Chiefs secondary for 325 yards and 4 touchdowns. (Two to Gates, who roasts Eric Berry on the regular). 31-13 bolts win
Dave “Booga” Peters: Gordon does just enough, totaling 111 total yards and two touchdowns. Defense forces three turnovers. Joey Bosa was missed in generating pressure, but the front-seven pressures KC enough to allow the secondary to snag two Alex Smith interceptions. Bolts allow QB Smith to rush for 50 yards while Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West chew up 160 yards on the ground, but that isn’t enough for KC. Chargers win 23-20
Here is my take on three things the Chargers must do in order to walk out of KC 1-0
Ahh yes. Week one is upon us at last. Lets get into it
1.) Control the rock, control the clock
If it’s one thing the Chargers learned with Whiz in 2013, it’s that he likes to control the clock and keep his offense on the field. Melvin Gordon is going to have to be a huge part of this game plan, even if he looked lost last season. Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead will also have to be used on short passes because, even though he looks limited, Tamba Hali is still a top pass rusher and Dee Ford has given us fits since KC drafted him.
2.) Stop the run
Kansas City looks like they will be without star running back Jamaal Charles this week, which is a plus. But the guy who will replace him, Spencer Ware, is no slouch either. Last season in the two games he played and started vs the Chargers, he had 19 total carries for 148 yards (7.7 average) with two touchdowns. That is unacceptable on every level and defensive coordinator, John Pagano, is going to have to game plan to stop him. Addition of Brandon Mebane will help. If only Bosa was playing….
The bolts are going to need Denzel Perryman and Manti Te’o to step up and help with the run game as well.
3.) Tune out the crowd noise
“Home field advantage” is more mental part of the sport than it is result. However, it is still something that needs to be addressed because in a division game on the road, every little thing matters. I am not one who believes that “home crowd” has a big effect. It is highly overblown and has no effect on a players skill set and a little effect on the game result. Get the mental aspect of it right and you will most of the time be okay. Now, the other part of “Home field advantage” is the field of play and comfort. That is more a problem than the crowd noise. But knowing the Chargers play in KC once a season, that should also be little problem as they already know what to expect.
If the Chargers do all three of these things, they should come out with a victory. I, for one am excited and ready to see how this team does on both sides of the ball. Do you agree or disagree with my keys? What else do you think is a key to winning? Let me know in the comments below!
Zak Darman (@WilMyersGOAT)
After suffering an embarrassing loss last week at home to Denver, the San Diego Chargers will have the daunting task of defeating the Kansas City Chiefs on the road at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are red-hot, riding a six-game winning streak and pushing for a playoff spot. San Diego is playing for pride in their last four games as their season has been derailed by a litany of injuries to key players on offense and defense.
Kansas City was also expected to fall into the AFC West cellar after losing their perennial Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles for the season eight weeks ago. Instead, they rallied around each other and have recovered from a 1-5 record to put themselves in playoff contention. Keying their turnaround has been an improved defense led by bookend defensive ends Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Add in an emotional boost from safety Eric Berry (after missing a year and successfully beating Cancer) and you have a defense that has forced multiple turnovers a team record seven weeks in a row.
San Diego has a tall mountain to climb but we all know the old adage about any given Sunday. Last week, the lowly Philadelphia Eagles beat the almighty New England Patriots. Anything can and will happen on an NFL Sunday. The Bolts stand the same punchers chance of winning that the Eagles did. How could if happen?
When the Chiefs have the ball
Kansas City handed the Chargers their worst home loss of the season, 33-3 in week 11. Unknown running back Spencer Ware lit up the Chargers defense for 96 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a 52-yard run. Running backs Ware and Charcandrick West will look to ground out a victory as they have been doing during their current winning streak.
The passing game has also found life in Kansas City, led by offseason acquisition Jeremy Maclin. Maclin leads the receiving corps with 66 catches for 817 yards and five touchdowns. A close second is tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce has 56 catches for 731 yards and four touchdowns.
Quarterback Alex Smith is known as a game manager but a better adjective would be consistent. Smith doesn’t have gaudy numbers but he also does not turn the ball over. To date, Smith is 246-376 for 2843 yards, 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Smith is also dangerous with his legs. While is isn’t a speed demon, he is third on the team in rushing with 60 carries for 326 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he has run for 19 first downs on the season.
San Diego will have to find a way to generate a pass rush which has been easier said than done this season. For as great as their defensive line has been, the same can’t be said for their offensive line. KC’s offensive line has given up 38 sacks. The Chargers are not averaging two sacks a game as they have 22 sacks on the season. Liuget was third on the team with three sacks. Melvin Ingram (5 sacks) and Jeremiah Attaochu (4.5 sacks) lead the team rushing the passer and will be leaned on to continue to do so. The defense will also have to do a better job bottling the KC ground attack. In the last game the Chiefs had three ground touchdowns and one pick-6 by Justin Houston.
When the Chargers have the ball
Quarterback Philip Rivers is losing targets seemingly every week. Three wide receivers are gone with Keenan Allen, Dontrelle Inman and Stevie Johnson out. Malcolm Floyd is playing through a shoulder injury. During the week, the Chargers enlisted the services of former Charger wideout Vincent Brown. Brown will start in a thin receiving lineup currently consisting of Floyd, Javontee Herndon and Tyrell Williams. The load of a team and a city has rested heavily on the shoulders of Rivers. Somehow, Rivers is third in the league in passing with 3713 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Rivers is also playing through a foot injury and illness he contracted during the past week.
Tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green are the most consistent options Rivers has at this point. The two have combined for 70 receptions for 784 yards and eight touchdowns. Using the underutilized option of playing the two together would open running lanes for Gordon and Danny Woodhead and allow the Chargers to move the ball down the field. In their first encounter, Rivers only managed to 178 yards on 30 attempts without a touchdown.
Rivers has had no help in the running game. Melvin Gordon has not been able to get going and carries the ignominious label of running back with the most carries without a touchdown. Gordon has 565 yards on 155 carries. The Chargers offensive line has had more combinations than an Rubik’s Cube and Rivers has paid for it. The line has given up 30 sacks.
Chargers O-line vs. Kansas City pass rush. Rivers was harassed throughout the first encounter by the stout Kansas City defensive front. Rivers was sacked three times, and gave up the pick six to Houston. Chiefs NT Dontari Poe generates significant pass rush up the middle. If the Bolts offensive line can keep those three in check, Rivers will have time do dissect the Chiefs’ formidable secondary led by Berry and rookie of the year candidate CB Marcus Peters. Peters has 50 tackles, 18 passes defensed, five interceptions, one forced fumble and one touchdown on the season.
This game does not look like winnable on the surface. San Diego has lost seven of their last eight games. Three of their last four games are against the AFC West where they are 0-3 to date. Will the Chiefs be looking past the Chargers? Having Rivers under center always gives the Bolts a chance to win. The Chargers know what to expect now that they have game tape on West and Ware. Rivers had his worst game of the season against the Chiefs. Look for the QB to bounce back and put yardage and touchdowns against the Chiefs. While I won’t go so far as to say the Bolts will win, they will give Kansas City a better battle than the 33-3 beatdown the Chargers suffered at home three weeks ago.
The Greg One
There is nothing like going into week 17 knowing that if you win, you’re in the playoffs. That is exactly what the Chargers are facing on Sunday as they travel to Arrowhead stadium to take on the division rival Chiefs.
It was just announced today that Alex Smith has a lacerated spleen and Chase Daniel will start at quarterback for Kansas City.
Despite the difference in venue, this year’s situation is very similar to last year’s when the Bolts played the Chiefs in week 17 with Daniel at the helm. KC was already a lock for the playoffs in 2013, while the Chargers, with a little help and a win, would secure a trip to the postseason.
This season San Diego wins and they immediately punch their ticket to the playoffs. With the defense stepping up as of late — 11th overall in the NFL — they now have the task of slowing down running back Jamaal Charles. His speed and overall ability could pose problems if he is allowed to get going. He is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield.
The Chief defense features one of the best pass rushing duos in the league in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. They have combined for 24 sacks and 6 forced fumbles. Defensive linemen Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey have 9 sacks between the two of them. The Charger offensive line must find a way to keep Philip Rivers upright. Due to the lack of a running game, expect Rivers to be dropping back quite often.
The 2014 season has been all over the place. We have all seen a 5-game winning streak, a 3-game losing streak, a 3-game winning streak followed more recently by a 2-game losing streak. With a win over Kansas City, they would end the regular season on a 2-game winning streak after last week’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
It has been an emotional roller coaster as a Chargers fan. The injuries have piled up and reserve players have been called upon at numerous positions. Despite the losing streaks and missing players, San Diego can make it the second consecutive year in a row that Mike McCoy has led them to the postseason.