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Chiefs vs. Chargers: Five Defensive Predictions

...or as it might be named in the future:  "Things Kalo predicts that are WAY wrong".

This week, we've got the division champs in the biggest opening game in recent history.  Sure, they thrashed the Chiefs last year, but with multiple additions on the Chiefs end (alongside some significant subtractions on theirs), there's reason for optimism headed into week one...or is there?  Let's go through five things I think we'll see come Monday night.

1.  The inside linebacker battle will be blown out of proportion.  Some may say that it already has been taken too far, but I think we'll see that more eyes will be focused on them Monday night than anyone else on the defensive side of the ball.  I foresee some snap judgments during/after the game will be a talking point amongst the community for the rest of the week.  In truth, both sets of inside linebackers will probably see similar numbers of snaps.  Both will have good plays and both will have bad plays.  I encourage you to wait for the end of the game before calling for Romeo Crennel/Todd Haley's head as to why a certain set was on the field.

2.  The Chiefs will be in the nickel quite a bit.  I'll even go far enough to say they'll be in it more than 1/3 of the time.  I think we'll see a lot more first and second down looks from the nickel to try to negate short passes from Rivers.  The way Philly ran on the Chiefs while in the nickel was not encouraging, so I hope enough has been done to stop Matthews from slashing us up the gut while the Chiefs are expecting pass.

3.  Gates is going to have a big day.  Even though we'll be expecting it, the guy will be open, and Rivers will hit him.  Last year, the tight end post was a HUGE killer for the Chiefs defense (so much so that I wrote this post after one performance), and thus far this year, my biggest complaint is the Chiefs inside linebacker pass defense.  It's looked like the players aren't communicating well enough and allowing receivers to run by/around the inside linebackers and safeties without any trouble.  The defense has got to suck it up and play strong here if the Chiefs want the W.

4.  Rivers will not match last year's performances.  This one is kind of a no-brainer with their number one receiver and LT out, but it still bears stating.  Rivers is good at spreading around the touches, and will still attempt to do so.  However, dropping Jackson (6'5") for Naane (6'2") will only help the Chiefs cornerbacks.  Malcolm Floyd is still there (6'5"), but only having to cover one huge receiver will make Flowers and Carr look a LOT better.  We've also seen the Chiefs linebackers and safeties doing a MUCH better job at covering the check downs.  As you'll all remember, Sproles lit the Chiefs up with yards after the catch from simple screen passes.  The Chiefs look much stronger in this department thus far in the preseason, so some of those big gains should be negated.  I'll say that Rivers ends up with less than 225 yards passing this game, a feat that only occurred three times last year.  Some may disagree, but I think a good portion of that yardage will go away due to the next item:

5.  Ryan Matthews will gain a lot of yardage on the Chiefs defense.  This one is hard to type, but I really believe it to be true.  Matthews has looked strong between the tackles, and we've been lackluster at stopping talented backs in the heart of our defense.  With our defense protecting itself from Rivers passing, the holes will only get bigger for Matthews.  As I said up above, I think the Chiefs will be in the nickel more than usual to protect the short zone.  Rivers will see this, and if he's smart, he'll audible for Matthews to gash the middle of the defense.  Jovan Belcher, Corey Mays, and Mike Vrabel (in the nickel) are going to have to have big days at the strongside inside linebacker position to keep us in this.

There you guys go:  some positive, some negative.  Do you agree?  What's your five defensive predictions?

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