By Dave Thomas
Don’t look now, but the San Diego Chargers are on the kind of roll that no NFL team wants to be on.
With three straight losses, the Chargers have moved themselves from a good spot in the AFC playoff hunt, to the outside looking in. That said, San Diego (4-6) is still mathematically alive in the hunt for its first trip to the playoffs in four years.
After their 20-16 setback in Miami on Sunday, the Chargers headed home for several days of practice before heading out on the road once again, this time to Arrowhead Stadium for a Sunday morning date with the once-beaten Kansas City Chiefs (9-1).
So, what can the Bolts expect when they meet up with a Kansas City team that suffered its first loss of the season this past Sunday night in Denver? It’s safe to say that San Diego will have its hands full with one of its oldest rivals.
Chiefs Fall From Unbeaten Ranks
Not since the 1972 Miami Dolphins has the NFL seen total perfection in a season. Kansas City’s perfection in 2013 came to an end in the Mile High City with the Chiefs’ 27-17 loss to Peyton Manning and the Broncos. While the loss does not really damage Kansas City’s playoff hopes, you can bet Andy Reid and company will be looking to get back on track come Sunday.
In a series that finds the Chargers with a slim 53-52-1 advantage, San Diego will have to play at their best to have any hopes of snapping their three-game losing streak (Washington, Denver, Miami). More important than any streak numbers, the Chargers just need a win to right the ship and get themselves back on steadier ground when it comes to the playoffs.
Despite their loss in Denver, the Chiefs come into this Sunday’s game with a number of challenges for the Bolts.
Kansas City Can Move the Ball on a Couple of Fronts
On offense, Kansas City is led by quarterback Alex Smith (2,149 yards passing, 11 TD’s). Although Smith is not going to be confused anytime soon for Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady, he can effectively manage his team. Part of that management means dishing the ball off to running back Jamaal Charles (803 yards rushing, six touchdowns).
Through the air, the Chiefs like to target wide receivers Dwayne Bowe (426 yards, three TD’s) and Donnie Avery (416 yards).
Defensively, Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense will have to deal with the likes of linebackers Justin Houston (11 sacks) and Derrick Johnson (73 total tackles).
For the Chargers, winning in Kansas City is by no means impossible (Chargers are 2-2 in their last four trips to Arrowhead), but it will certainly not be easy. When you play against one of the top teams in not only your conference but the NFL overall, the margin for error is slim.
In San Diego’s case, the margin for error (specifically losing games at this point in the season) is almost zero.
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.