Behind Enemy Lines: Chargers vs. Chiefs III

Our experts, Nick Athan of Warpaint Illustrated and Michael Lombardo of SD Bolt Report, break down Sunday's game between the Chiefs and Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. We'll finish this three-part series with some match-ups to watch, game scenarios and final predictions.

Chiefs offensive match-up to watch: Damion McIntosh vs. Shawne Merriman

The key for the Kansas City Chiefs will be their ability to contain linebacker extraordinaire Merriman. Outside of the devastating hit he had on running back Priest Holmes his rookie season -- and whipping up on All-Pro Tackle Willie Roaf -- Merriman has been largely ineffective against Kansas City. A year ago, journeyman offensive lineman Jordan Black manhandled him and this year the task goes to left tackle Damion McIntosh.

Thus far, the former Chargers tackle has paid huge dividends for the Chiefs. Against the Vikings last week, he didn't allow a sack and is healthy after sustaining a minor knee injury in training camp. In fact, McIntosh is looking forward to going up against his old teammates. If he can continue the latest trend of shutting down the pass rush of Merriman, Kansas City's offense could find success early and often.

Chiefs defensive match-up to watch: Jarrad Page vs. Antonio Gates

The key for the Chiefs defense won't be stopping all-world running back LaDainian Tomlinson. The Chiefs, even with a terrible defense, have kept Tomlinson in check at San Diego. In fact, that's not the team's primary concern this week. Instead, Kansas City, who has been solid against the run this year, will focus all of their secondary attention on All-Pro tight end Gates.

A year ago, as Gates was tearing up the Chiefs secondary, Herm Edwards charged safety Jarrad Page with shutting him down. He did just that. If the Chiefs force San Diego to pass, the Chargers have shown that they look to get the ball into the hands of Gates on third down. That trend will likely continue this game as Kansas City should be able to force the Chargers into numerous third-and-long situations. That means Page, who is an interception machine, should be able to prevent Gates from having a 100-yard receiving day.

The Chiefs will win if: It's very simple for the men from Kansas City. They need to keep L.T. in front of them and they must prevent him from cutting back or changing direction. Though the Chargers offensive line is one of the best in the AFC, the Chiefs defensive line has shown immense growth and play-making ability the first three games of the season. Kansas City also knows that it must get out to an early lead in this game. They know that all the pressure of this football game rests on the Chargers, who are double-digit home favorites. But they also know that this team is reeling and it could be in for a long afternoon once the boo birds come out if they're down by two scores in the second half.

The Chiefs will lose if: They turn the ball over. In two road losses this year, the Chiefs have turned the ball over uncharacteristically. They've fumbled the ball in the return game, receiving and rushing. Damon Huard has more interceptions than touchdowns this season and he's already on a short leash in regards to retaining his starting job. Huard must make solid decisions throwing the ball because, if he doesn't, the heralded Chiefs running game will never get off the line of scrimmage. It the Chiefs don't make San Diego pay for stacking eight and nine guys in the box, it'll be more of the same for the struggling offense.

Final prediction: Chiefs 19 – Chargers 17

Chargers offensive match-up to watch: Shane Olivea vs. Tamba Hali

Olivea missed last week's game with a back injury and the running game suffered as a result. He is expected to return against the Chiefs and will face off with his rival, Hali. After the Chiefs beat the Chargers in Arrowhead last season, Hali called the Chargers a finesse team and Olivea took it personally. In the rematch at Qualcomm, Olivea sprung LaDainian Tomlinson for a 199-yard, two-touchdown day.

Olivea will be key to getting Tomlinson untracked. He will also be charged with preventing Hali from getting pressure off the edge. Philip Rivers has been sacked eight times through three games after going down just 27 times last season. Both Olivea and Hali are intense players who will go toe-to-toe until the whistle – whoever gets his man to blink first will give his team a huge advantage.

Chargers defensive match-up to watch: Eric Weddle vs. Tony Gonzalez

Weddle will not spend much time going one-on-one with Gonzalez. However, Weddle will see the most extensive playing time of his career this week as the Chargers roll a series of zone coverages towards the Chiefs only real aerial threat. When the Chargers to play man-to-man, Weddle may get the assignment because of his ability to cover receivers out of the slot.

The Chargers will also disguise their coverages, lining Weddle up over Gonzalez before sending him on a blitz. Clinton Hart will then assume the coverage responsibilities. Gonzalez will get his yards; if Weddle can help keep him under the century mark, he will consider it a victory.

The Chargers will win if: LaDainian Tomlinson gets 30 combined touches. No matter what defenses do to slow No. 21, Norv Turner has to get him rolling again. The Chargers can win individual games when Tomlinson struggles but cannot put together a winning season without L.T. donning his Superman cape. The Chiefs provide a great match-up for Tomlinson, as the Kansas City offense isn't going to run away with a lead. If the Chargers force-feed Tomlinson early, he will wear the Chiefs down and win the game in the fourth quarter.

The Chargers will lose if: They fail to get pressure on Huard. If the Chargers can knock Huard out of rhythm, it will force the Kansas City offense to become one-dimensional. Luis Castillo and Marques Harris are both seeking their first sacks of the season and will look to leave their goose eggs on the field. If the Chargers let Huard get comfortable in the pocket, he will be efficient enough to author an upset.

Final prediction: Chargers 24 – Chiefs 9

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