Game Snapshot: Chargers v. Chiefs

The Chargers aim to remain in sole possession of first place in the AFC West as they take on the rival Chiefs under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. Get ready for this game with keys to the game, injury news, team notes and ... of course ... a prediction.

KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET
GAMEDATE: 10/31/11
SURFACE: Natural Grass
TV: ESPN, Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Jon Gruden

PREDICTION: Chiefs 27-24

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Chargers had more than an eight-minute advantage in time of possession in a 20-17 victory over the Chiefs in Week 3. Kansas City has sorted out its new backfield mix more since then, and coach Todd Haley is throwing new wrinkles in to account for a lack of explosive playmakers - including CB Javier Arenas taking a direct snap last week.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers has TE Antonio Gates back in the lineup, which should create more opportunities to test the Chiefs' suspect coverage over the top despite six interceptions last week against Oakland. Rivers threw two picks in the first meeting and is coming off a 16-of-32 game against the Jets.

FAST FACTS: Rivers has 11 turnovers, only six less than he had all of last season. ... The Chiefs' defense has not allowed a point in its past six quarters.

INSIDE THE CAMPS

Chargers

Maybe what has Philip Rivers off-kilter is because his receivers are often off the practice field.

Rivers' struggles have been well-chronicled as the usually accurate quarterback has flung the ball around in an inconsistent manner this season.


QB Philip Rivers
Elsa/Getty
The Chargers prepare to face the Chiefs on Monday night and what would have been your response to this preseason bet: Entering Week 7, the Chiefs' Matt Cassel would have more touchdown pass (eight) and fewer interceptions (seven) than Rivers (seven, nine).

Hard to believe, but true.

Hard to believe Rivers isn't hurting. But he swears that's the truth.

"I'm as healthy as I've been through six weeks," Rivers said. "I'm doing the best I can to lead a 4-2 team."

But his turnover showing of 11 is not only alarming but tied for the league lead in a category no one wants to embrace.

What Rivers will wrap his arms around is the presence of Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates when the team works out.

On Thursday, he was two-for-three in that quest as everyone but Floyd (hip) was able to work.

Not getting reps in practices leading up to game days is a killer. Although Rivers kind of shrugged off that notion last year, when completing passes to 17 different receivers because of injuries.

Still ...

"There's nothing wrong with Philip," coach Norv Turner said. "The biggest thing we have to do is get in sync with everyone who's getting healthy. Timing is refined on the practice field.

"As we saw (on the Darrelle Revis interception), the ball on the front number can have a different result than one on the back shoulder. All those details are worked out during the week. You need a lot of reps, and we haven't had many due to all the injuries."

One of Rivers' fourth-quarter interceptions in the loss to the Jets came when he threw behind Jackson, the ball hitting him on the hip instead of in stride. It bounced off Jackson to Revis, and the comeback was on.

"Every rep you can get with each other is big," Rivers said. "We've been together a long time, but the practice is still important. The more you practice the more in sync you can be. That's by no means an excuse for the last few weeks, but establishing a consistent rhythm will certainly be a positive."

Something has been amiss as one of the NFL's highest-rated passers ever is scuffling along with a 82.3 rating. Rivers, along with Steve Young and Peyton Manning, are the only players in NFL history to finish three straight seasons with ratings north of 100.

The Chargers travel to the Midwest, hoping Rivers' game, which has gone south, is resurrected.

"When you lose, the things you aren't doing so well stand out, and when you win things are glossed over a bit by the victory," Rivers said. "There's nothing drastic that needs to change."

Chiefs

Last Sunday's game in Oakland was Dustin Colquitt's 100th game as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

And it was one of the best performances of his seven-year career.

Kicking in a game that featured the NFL's all-time leading punter in Shane Lechler of the Raiders, Colquitt was the best foot on the field, at least for this game. He averaged 52.6 yards on his seven punts.

More importantly, Colquitt and the Chiefs had a net average of 47 yards and he knocked three punts inside the 20-yard line. On those kicks, the Raiders started their offensive possessions at the Oakland, 2, 2 and 18-yard lines. Without a doubt, Colquitt tilted the field for the Chiefs.

"The coverage guys did a great job all day and it was really almost perfect conditions to kick in," said Colquitt. "We knew we had to have a good game and I think we did. Ryan (Succop) really kicked the ball well and we kept everything contained."

Colquitt has always enjoyed kicking in Oakland because of the presence of Lechler, who entered the game as the leading punter in NFL history with a career average of 47.5 yards, topping the career number of Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh (45.1).

"You always come in and feel like you have to raise your game to compete with him," said Colquitt. "He's as good as it gets and that's always got me excited to come in and go against him."

His biggest punts came in the first half. Colquitt's first kick went for 58 yards and rookie cornerback Jalil Brown got down the field and was able to throw the ball back into the field of play just as it was going into the end zone. It was downed at the Oakland 2-yard line.

Later in the half, Colquitt got off a 52-yard punt that bounced once, into the hands of safety Donald Washington, who set up at the Oakland 2-yard line to catch the ball.

"That's the kind of stuff you dream of happening," Colquitt said. "You work and work on that in practice and when it all falls together the way it's drawn up, it's pretty cool."

Over his 100 games, Colquitt has punted 518 times and averaged 44.2 yards per kick. After six games of the 2011 season, he's averaging 45.2 yards per punt and that ranks him only No. 16 in the league. But his net average of 41.4 yards ranks him No. 6.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Chargers

--LT Marcus McNeill (neck) was a limited participant and his status remains in question for Monday. McNeill should be cautious, as he had neck surgery in 2009. Even if he starts, he could be compromised. Brandyn Dombrowski would replace him.

--TE Antonio Gates (foot) worked for the second straight day after playing in his first game since Sept. 18. That is an encouraging sign for Gates - and Philip Rivers, as it puts his favorite target on the field.

--LG Kris Dielman (concussion) didn't work and said he doubts he will be able to play on Monday. Tyronne Green would start in place of Dielman.

--WR Malcom Floyd (hip) didn't practice but will likely attempt to later in the week. He could possibly play Monday, especially with the Chargers having an extra day of rest. But whether he's able to finish the game is always a concern with Floyd.

--C/G Scott Mruczkowski (neck) was a limited participant. If he can't go Monday, an injury depleted front line gets thinner with its depth.

--FB Jacob Hester (foot) was a limited participant but is a go for Monday.

--CB Marcus Gilchrist continues to get reps with the first unit and there's a strong chance he will start Monday in place of the struggling Antoine Cason. It would be the rookie Gilchrist's second NFL start; he recorded an interception in his first one.

--RB Ryan Mathews (thumb) was a full participant and should be fine for Monday.

Chiefs

-- FS Kendrick Lewis was participating in practice on Thursday and should be available for Monday night's game against San Diego. Lewis was injured in the victory over Oakland when he twisted an ankle.

-- CB Javier Arenas is second in the NFL in punt return average -- he's brought back 12 punts for an average of 15.5 yards. He's about a half-yard behind the league leader, Arizona CB Patrick Peterson. Arenas continues to rank among the leaders even though is longest return has been just 37 yards.

--K Ryan Succop ranks No. 13 in the NFL in touchbacks on kickoffs with 17 on the season. He's also 19 of 22 on his kicks, making all 12 of his PATs and now seven of 10 on field goals.

--FB Le'Ron McClain got his first touchdown as a member of the Chiefs in Oakland, although there was controversy surrounding the play. Officials on the field ruled that McClain crossed the goal line before he fumbled the ball. Eventually, it was recovered by teammate RG Jon Asamoah so it would not have changed the scoreboard. "I was in, that's what they said," McClain said. "But as long as six goes on the board, I don't care who gets it."

-- OLB Tamba Hali had four sacks after four games and now has four sacks after six games. He's been shut out the last two weeks by Indianapolis and Oakland. Hali has gotten his hands on the quarterback, given credit for eight QB hits, but no TDs.

Hali in 11 games against the Chargers has 6.5 sacks and 41 total tackles. Hali also had the only interception of his career against San Diego as a rookie in 2006.

--QB Matt Cassel has a 1-4 record as a starting quarterback against the Chargers, producing five TD passes and six interceptions. He's thrown for 722 yards, completing 78 of 140 passes. His only victory as a starter against San Diego came in the 2010 season opener at Arrowhead Stadium.

--WR Dwayne Bowe had a big game the first time he played the Chargers, going for 164 yards on eight catches and a touchdown back in 2007. Since then, he's played seven games against San Diego, catching 25 passes for 283 yards and three TDs.

--RB Thomas Jones has had limited success against the Chargers over his career. In six games, Jones has gained 203 yards on 60 carries without a scoring run. Last year, he picked up just 40 yards in two games, and he followed that earlier this season with 31 yards on 14 carries.

--LB Derrick Johnson had a big season last year in two games against the Chargers, making 21 tackles vs. San Diego. Over his career, Johnson has played 12 games against the Chargers and amassed 75 total tackles, three sacks and one interception.



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