By Dave Thomas
Coaches in any sport will tell their players to put the previous game behind them, be it a big victory or a tough loss. For the Chargers, that notion certainly holds true this Sunday.
After getting pushed around up and down the field last Sunday in a 27-3 home loss to Atlanta, the Chargers head for the nation’s heartland and a Sunday afternoon (morning kickoff on the West Coast) meeting with the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs.
For San Diego (2-1), Sunday’s visit to Arrowhead Stadium will say much about where this team is headed after a debilitating loss last Sunday. Will the Chargers rebound and play with enthusiasm and intensity against their longtime divisional adversaries, or will they still be in a mental hole coming off of the game with Atlanta?
Chiefs Rally In The Bayou
Meantime, the Chiefs may have salvaged their season last Sunday down on the bayou.
After dropping their first two games, Kansas City (1-2) rallied from a deep hole against New Orleans, walking out of the Superdome with an overtime victory. The win left the Chiefs tied with Denver and Oakland at 1-2 in the AFC West, a game back of the Chargers.
Kansas City, which has a slight 52-51-1 lead in the all-time series with the Bolts, will look to build off of that win over the Saints and do something it has not done much in recent years, defeat San Diego (Chargers have won seven of last nine meetings in the series).
Getting To Cassel Will Be Key For San Diego’s ‘D’
The Chiefs enter the contest having churned out just over 510 yards of offense against the Saints a week ago, including 233 on the ground from star running back Jamaal Charles. Kansas City has been averaging 191.7 yards in its ground attack to date, but is still not going to scare too many defenses with its passing game and QB Matt Cassel at the controls.
So, if the Chargers are able to keep Charles from having an impactful day, they could give Cassel and Co. a number of headaches. Keep in mind that Cassel, who was signed by the Chiefs a few years ago after essentially one big performance backing up Tom Brady in New England, enters Sunday’s game ranked 27th among all NFL quarterbacks after three weeks, a passer rating of 73.8 to his credit. Again, if you are the Chargers, make Cassel and not Charles beat you.
The Chiefs may find their biggest challenge this Sunday being putting a healthy team on the field against San Diego.
Earlier this week, Kansas City announced that starting center Rodney Hudson is done for the year after suffering a broken leg in the win over the Saints. Running back Peyton Hillis (ankle) and wide receiver Dexter McCluster (elbow), who were both injured in that game too, are questionable for the Chargers contest.
With this early season divisional tilt meaning much for both teams, can the Chiefs put a pair of ugly losses to Atlanta and Buffalo behind them?
And can the Chargers refocus their attention on the fact that despite last week’s dreadful performance against those same Falcons, they still lead the AFC West?
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Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.