Eavesdropping On The Enemy: Chiefs-Chargers I

Each week this season I go undercover and spy on the opposing fans of each Chiefs opponent. I believe the fans of the individual teams are the true experts on the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Each week I'll attempt to find out how they view the upcoming game, how their offense will fare against the Chiefs defense and how their defense will fare against the Chiefs offense.

This week the Chiefs look for redemption as they host division-rival San Diego. Last week the Chiefs were humbled and embarrassed themselves in front of a national audience, getting thrashed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 45-7. However, there is hope for Chiefs fans. Earlier this season the Chicago Bears pummeled the Seattle Seahawks 37-6. A week earlier the New York Giants took a beating at the hands of the Seahawks in a game that saw the Giants trailing 42-3 after three quarters. Both the Seahawks and the Giants appear to be legitimate playoff contenders. Good teams do have very bad days. The Chiefs take the field against the Chargers with a chance to prove last week's performance was the exception to the rule.

This week I spied on a very confident group of Chargers fans at SignOnSanDiego.com. These fans' biggest fear is not Larry Johnson, Tony Gonzalez, Eddie Kennison, Damon Huard, Jared Allen or Tamba Hali. They feel the only thing standing in the way of a Charger victory is the Arrowhead mystique.

Chargers Offense vs. Chiefs Defense

"Here are my feelings about the team so far and this weekend. While the chargers haven't played a lot of decent teams, they HAVE beaten the crap out of the weak teams. That say to me that the team is playing consistent ball....no matter who the opponent is and that's a very good sign. I don't think the Arrowhead crowd is going to have ANY affect on Rivers... this kid probably will take pleasure in quieting their little voices."

"I don't think the chefs can match up on either side of the ball and this should be at least a 10 or 13 point victory margin.... maybe more." Freedom first – Chargers Board

"It's not the crowd noise effect on Rivers that's troublesome, but rather the impact on the ability of the linemen to hear the snap count. I've been to a few games there and that place gets absolutely deafening, especially when the Chefs grab a lead. But the Chefs' fans are football wise and know when to sustain the noise even when they trail - so long as it's not a blowout. They don't quit easily on their team. They're awesome fans." 3rddownmenace – Chargers Board

"M&T Bank Stadium (Ravens home) is supposed to be as loud as Arrowhead, and it sounds like it, based on the Ravens games I've seen. I agree the stadium noise will affect the OL more than Rivers. Hopefully Dielman will really, really pay attention to the counts and all that this time, instead of being the false-start machine he was at M&T."

"Our WRs have a history of making idiots out of overconfident DBs. Look how Eric Parker abused Nate Clements last year. We are a ball control offense, so their job is to make the catch past the first down marker and keep the chains moving. They do this very well. Oh, and the Chefs should pay no mind to the 6' 5" ex-basketball players, by the names of Floyd and Jackson, who come off the bench for us. That would make Floyd's and Jackson's job even easier as they out-jump Chiefs defenders for the ball. Oh, and our WRs love to block, so when they're not making moves on DBs, they're smacking them in the mouth as blockers. Just ask Raider CB Nnamdi Asomugha, who was literally driven to tears by Eric "The Enforcer" Parker's blocks."

"You do have one decent CB in Patrick Surtain. Your other CB Ty Law was helpless against our offense last year and will probably be abused again, whether he's covering Parker or McCardell. Both of those guys however are 5' 11" and will lose any jump ball battles against Jackson or Floyd. Overall, your defense scares nobody." Powdablue – Chargers Board

The Spy's analysis

Back to basics. That needs to be the mantra for this Chiefs defense. After starting the season with four very solid performances, one would have thought that Greg Robinson snuck in and started running the defense last week. Back to basics. The Chiefs must get back to playing physical and performing sound, fundamental tackling. They simply cannot allow LaDanian Tomlinson and Michael Turner to break tackles and get big chunks of yards. The defensive line must toughen up and win the battles in the trenches, including Tamba Hali and Jared Allen putting pressure on quarterback Phillip Rivers.

Rivers becomes the second quarterback this season to make his first career start at Arrowhead. Historically this has been a good sign for the Chiefs. The Chiefs defense needs to take advantage of his youth and the crowd noise that the Chiefs fans will certainly provide.

Steelers Defense vs. Chiefs Offense

"Larry Johnson is overrated and will be exposed against good rush defenses. Do it in the league for a few years before making a HOF bust for the guy. Chargers will hold Johnson to less than 50 yds on Sunday." Yantubos – Chargers Board

"If it comes down to Martyball vs. Herm. Chefs win. Otherwise, I can't imagine our post-Baltimore formula changing much. Thank you, Marty. Our D will set the tone (you can't move the chains on us-at least for the most part) The Bolts have run-stopping power and our pressure up front and our secondary has definitely improved over last season. Hell, I hope KC tries to throw on us... on Jammer even. I'd like to see our secondary tested more and make the necessary adjustments on the fly." Jonny Q – Chargers Board

"Sunday would be the worst day Green could pick to come back, Merriman will make sure he goes out and never steps foot again." Jotade – Chargers Board

The Spy's Analysis

The Chargers are a very physical and aggressive defense. The Chiefs need to use that against them early. Reverse, screen, flea flicker. These are plays that the Chiefs could use to slow down that aggression. The Chiefs also need to use downfield passing off play action on first down. This goes a bit against Head Coach Herm Edwards's modus operandi, but defenses are attacking the line of scrimmage on the Chiefs and the offense must provide an effective counter.

This is also a game where the offensive line needs to step up. More accurately, they need to man up. Running the football is all about blocking and reading the blocking. Larry Johnson is an outstanding running back if the line will block for him. The Chiefs need more than they are getting from their running game and now is the time they need it.

The Spy's Summary

Physical, emotional, passionate. These are the characteristics the Chiefs need to demonstrate this week. I pointed this out last week and I'll repeat myself. It is very difficult to win back-to-back games on the road in the NFL. The Chargers went north and whipped the 49ers last week. The Chiefs need to put together a very strong performance to make them feel the effects of back-to-back travel dates. If the Chiefs have playoff aspirations, they need to find a way to win this game. A loss puts them three games behind in the AFC West and all four losses will be in the AFC with two coming within the division. Further, this is a home division game. A team cannot win the division by losing home games within the division.

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