Eavesdropping on the Enemy

It's time again for our spy report. Each week this season I go undercover and spy on the opposing fans of each Chiefs opponent. I believe the fans 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 to keep their playoff hopes alive as they make their annual trip to San Diego to face the Chargers. The Chiefs playoff picture is really pretty simple. The Chiefs must win out (at San Diego, at Oakland and home against Jacksonville) and have the Jets lose one game (at Minnesota, at Miami and home against Oakland) or the Bengals lose two games (at Indianapolis, at Denver, at home against Pittsburgh). The other two teams that could end up 10-6 or better are the Broncos and the Jaguars. By winning out, the Chiefs would hold a tiebreaker edge over both of those teams. They are the only two teams the Chiefs have a chance to have a tiebreaker edge over. That is why the Chiefs must win out and finish 10-6. A logjam at 9-7 would not bode well.

Once again, I spied on a very confident group of Chargers fans at http://forum.signonsandiego.com/upload/forumdisplay.php?f=9. These fans are very excited about their team's AFC West title this year, but also fuming over remarks made by rookie defensive end Tamba Hali.

"After running the film we didn't think they were as physical as we faced (earlier this year)," said Hali. "The Steelers were physical. We played a physical game there. We were all banged up when we came out of there. Looking at the film, we know they (the Chargers) were a finesse team. We didn't think they were that physical a team, so we thought we could get after them."

The Chargers and their fans have taken that statement as Hali calling them soft. That statement has been the focus of Charger fans this week rather than the X's and O's of the game. Ironically, the Chiefs are once again coming off of a loss to a very physical team.

Chargers Offense vs. Chiefs Defense

"When we play them, he's about to get that (rear end) whipped. When you play a team twice, you can't say something like that. Especially when you made a play or two, you ain't in no position. That's just a rookie running his mouth. But trust me, I'm going to shut that mouth." Shane Olivea – Right Tackle San Diego Chargers

"That's a great quote. Knock him down a peg, Shane." – BlueandGold – Chargers Board

"Olivea is the last one to talk about kicking anyone's butt. This guy gets run over more often than an armadillo on a New Mexico road. Most of our sacks have come from his side." freedom first – Chargers Board

"We played them before Jack Henry, Hal Hunter, and Cam Cameron all got on the same page with the blocking schemes. In other words, the Chiefs caught us before we had our offensive blocking down. They haven't seen our real power running game yet. Wait until they get a load of our unbalanced power formation with the two tackles on the left and Manu at RT.

It'll probably be a lower scoring game, in a battle of power rushing attacks, with big plays by both Gates and Gonzalez. We do have the edge on offense though, with a Charger OL eager to show the Chiefs DL just how "un-physical" they really are.

Ironically, Simms and Co. described the Charger offense last Sunday as a physical one that likes to use big guys like Gates and Jackson to wear down the defense." PowdaBlue – Chargers Board

"The players are keeping newspaper clipping of those manhood-questioning statements in their weight room! They're aware, all right! Tamba Hali Pancakes, coming up this Sunday!" PowdaBlue – Chargers Board

The Spy's analysis

The perceived disrespect that the Chargers and their fans are fuming about will not decide this match up. Two words: LaDainian Tomlinson. He's likely the league MVP this year and is the key to the Chargers offensive attack. He is an elite running back, a very good receiver out of the backfield and heartbreaking when he throws the ball. If the Chiefs are to be effective against an outstanding Chargers offense, they will need to find a way to contain Tomlinson. The Chiefs must also cover Antonio Gates, who has had huge games against the Chiefs, but the key is Tomlinson.

Chargers Defense vs. Chiefs Offense

"I was just watching the NFL network and they had a clip of LT responding to the chiefs saying that the chargers were soft, and he responded by saying that no one wants to be called soft, and gave them credit for the first win, but ended with "we'll see..." From his tone you can tell he was PO'd. I guess we can thank the Chiefs for the bulletin board material. I'm sure Merriman has something to say about that also...can't wait to see the lights go out for the Chiefs." Borderline Bolt – Chargers Board

"Soft???? I hope Merriman would give an "early-retirement" hit on L.J...the dude is over-rated." AFchargersPhan – Chargers Board

"I do hope that we hit them in the mouth... we do need to shore up our Run D though, LJ will have a field day with us if we allow them to do to us what the Denver running backs did to us. Oh, and our safeties better cover that one guy who plays the tightened who is pretty decent... I think his name is Gonzalez." spaniard – Chargers Board

The Spy's Analysis

The last time the Chiefs and Chargers met, running back Larry Johnson and tight end Tony Gonzalez had huge games. The Chiefs would be wise to use that to their advantage early on. Play action passing with fakes to LJ and Gonzo attacking the middle of the field should open up post patterns for Kennison, Parker or Hall. The Chargers defense has given up points this year. There will be opportunities for the Chiefs to move the ball. The key is will be to take advantage of those opportunities and to not turn the ball over.

The Spy's Summary

Physical, emotional, passionate. These were the characteristics I said the Chiefs needed to demonstrate the last time they faced the Chargers. That statement still holds true. The Chargers, feeling disrespected by the Chiefs, will no doubt come out with a high level of emotion and passion. The Chiefs will need to withstand the early emotional outburst by the Chargers. If they don't, we could see another blowout like the Steelers game.

However, if the Chiefs can stay close or even lead after the first quarter they'll have a good chance of winning the game. One thing about starting a game with a high level of emotion is that you spend a lot of energy in doing so. The Chiefs may be able to take advantage of that in the second quarter and in the second half.

Another factor is that a high level of emotion and intensity may lead to post-play altercations. If the Chiefs are smart and don't get sucked into doing stupid things, they could benefit from some unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against the Chargers. Larry Johnson has had big back-to-back games against the Chargers. The Chiefs need a repeat performance.

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