Second Look: San Diego Chargers

The sudden question mark to the availability of Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel could change the outcome of this game. With that said, here's a refresher on what the Chargers have done since the Chiefs beat them in week one.

Opponent: San Diego Chargers (6-6 record, 3rd place in AFC West)

Offensive Statistics: 105.6 rushing yards per game (ranked 19th), 292 passing yards per game (ranked 2nd), 397.4 total yards per game (ranked 2nd), 26.9 points per game (ranked 3rd)

Defensive Statistics: Have allowed 95.3 rushing yards per game (ranked 5th), 186 passing yards per game (ranked 1st), 281.5 total yards per game (ranked 1st), 21.1 points per game (ranked 15th)

Wins: Jacksonville (38-13), Arizona (41-10), Tennessee (33-25), @ Houston (29-23), Denver (35-14), @ Indianapolis (36-14)

Loses: @ Kansas City (21-14), @ Seattle (27-20), @ Oakland (35-27), @ St. Louis (20-17), New England (23-20), Oakland (28-13)

Notes: Defensively, the Chargers will be the toughest opponent the Chiefs have faced all season. Despite allowing Oakland to run all over them, San Diego still possesses the league's top ranked defense, and the Chiefs haven't played any of the other teams that are currently ranked in the top 10.

The big discrepancy for San Diego is that they're only ranked 15th in terms of points allowed per game. When their defense isn't giving up many yards, yet the team is allowing that many points, it speaks towards their frequent mistakes on special teams and too many turnovers by their offense.

The Chargers' #2 ranked offensive attack will be just as big a challenge for the Chiefs. K.C. has played two of the other teams with offenses ranked in the top 10 – Houston and Indianapolis. Both of those games came on the road and the Chiefs didn't win either of them.

After their loss at Arrowhead on Sunday, Denver – which was previously a top 10 offense – dropped down to #11. But we all remember how the Chiefs' defense fared on the road against them.

Analysis: Because of the Chargers' loss to the Raiders, this game is no longer a "must-win" for the Chiefs. They could lose in San Diego and still be a game ahead in the standings. And if the Chiefs do go with Brodie Croyle on Sunday, he's not going to feel he has to WIN this game.

However, it has taken on "must-win" status for the Chargers. If they lose this game, they will officially be eliminated from the AFC West race. That means their postseason hopes would hang on the incredibly slim chance that they could still secure a wildcard spot.

The Chiefs don't have to win. The Chargers do. If that's the attitude the two teams have when they take the field, San Diego likely wins the game by double digits. It may even get ugly.

Of course, that's not to say this isn't a big game for the Chiefs. A loss here means their margin for error disappears. It means they'll probably have to win out the rest of the way to make sure they maintain their lead atop the division. If the Chiefs lose here and the Raiders keep on winning, Oakland would have a chance to steal the division when they come to Arrowhead in Week 17.

Just as important, a win here would allow the Chiefs to stick a dagger into the hearts of their biggest competition. And if they win in San Diego while the Raiders lose in Jacksonville, the Chiefs would have a three game lead in the division with three games left to play.

The Chiefs have a ton to play for on Sunday. At the end of the day, they just don't have as much at stake as the Chargers do.

The game may boil down to whether or not the Chiefs can match San Diego in terms of motivation and intensity. But more so can they win this game with their starting quarterback on the sidelines.

K.C. is already at a disadvantage. They're going on the road – where, more often than not, they haven't played well this season – and they're playing a team with more talent than they have.

If they can't get fired up enough for the game with or without Cassel, they'll be in for a long afternoon.

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