It always feels like a copout listing turnovers as a key to a victory but in this case it's particularly relevant. The Chiefs are 3-1 when winning the turnover ratio in 2011 with their only loss coming to the Chargers. In fact, had it not been for a late Cassel interception and a Ryan Succop missed field goal the Chiefs had a legitimate shot of winning that game.
The Chiefs are coming off of a six-interception game via Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer and will look to do the same this week. The Chargers are one of the worst teams this season in the turnover ratio at -5, which is 25th in the NFL, but have somehow found themselves with four wins. For the most part the Chargers have been playing with fire without getting burned. Let's see if the Chiefs can push them into the fire pit.
Keep Rivers struggling
At 4-2, the Chargers are off to one of their best starts in the past five seasons. The surprise is that they have won despite their Pro Bowl quarterback, Philip Rivers, who has easily had his worst start since entering the league in 2004. For a close comparison of how much Rivers has regressed, his quarterback rating of 82.3 is just 2.5 points higher than Matt Cassel, who posted a 38.3 last week.
The real glaring black-eye on Rivers' stat sheet is his touchdown to interception ratio which is an ugly seven touchdowns to nine interceptions (Rivers has also lost two fumbles). Only two quarterbacks in the league have a worse turnover to touchdown ratio. One is a rookie and one just got benched (Josh Freeman and Rex Grossman). Rivers won't get benched this week but the Chiefs could certainly take advantage of his struggles.
The mighty Arrowhead will be rocking more than ever on Halloween night and the timing couldn't be any better. After a horrible 0-3 start, the Chiefs find themselves in the middle of a division title fight and host the Chargers for the rights to first place.
The Chiefs fell 20-17 to the Chargers in their first meeting but the game was even closer than the score would indicate and could have easily gone the other way. The Chiefs are also a much better team than they were in Week 3. With a raucous Chiefs crowd decked out in their Halloween finest, I can't see this Chargers team leaving with a victory.
Offensive Game Plan
With the injury to running back Jamaal Charles in Week 2, the Chiefs' coaching staff has had to experiment. Last week, the Chiefs opened up against the Raiders, passing on 12 of their 17 first-half plays. In the second half, with a 14-point lead, the Chiefs went for a more balanced attack, with seven passing plays and eight rushing. Although each style had more negatives than positives, the result was a total of 14 offensive points.
Although the Chiefs' wide receivers are the strength of this team, with Cassel's inconsistency, the Chiefs will have to get their rushing attack established early. Jackie Battle is the best option out of the backfield with Thomas Jones continuing to charge towards retirement and should have a productive day against the NFL's 21st ranked rushing defense. If Battle can prove to be a threat, it will open up Cassel to do what he does best - quick dump offs and check downs.
No player on this current Chiefs' roster has made more noticeable strides in 2011 than third-year defensive lineman Tyson Jackson. After being given up on by the Chiefs' fan base, and most of the media, Jackson has quietly been improving week to week and is finally starting to show up on the stat sheet.
In the Chiefs' first two opening losses, Jackson had a total of three tackles. But in the last four weeks, Jackson has amassed 12 tackles, two pass deflections, and two quarterback hurries. Although his improved statistics are a positive sign the real judgment for a 3-4 defensive tackle is the production of the linebackers behind him.
During the first two losses, standout linebacker Derrick Johnson accumulated just nine tackles combined. But when Jackson stepped up his game, Johnson exploded for 35 tackles. Jackson is still not playing up to expectations but for the first time, he is finally making noticeable improvement.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Five to watch.
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