Before the season started, the Kansas City Chiefs were considered to have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL, especially over the first five weeks. Then the Chiefs lost to the Tennessee Titans, and watched as injuries forced Derrick Johnson, Joe Mays, Mike DeVito, Jamaal Charles, Jeff Allen and Eric Berry out for either the entire season or a number of games.
At the outset, many stated that a 2-3 record at the bye week would set Kansas City up nicely for a push towards the postseason. Despite an incredible amount of bad luck, occasionally poor play calling and an absolute disaster in the season-opener, the Chiefs are in fine position. Still, there is a major game looming on Sunday.
When Kansas City visits the San Diego Chargers, the Chiefs go up against a good coach and an elite quarterback in Mike McCoy and Philip Rivers. Rivers is having a tremendous season in leading the Chargers to a 5-1 start, throwing for 15 touchdowns against two interceptions. However, there appears to be more to San Diego than Rivers and a very nice receivers group.
San Diego's defense ranks third in the NFL in yards allowed per game (308.3), fourth against the pass (209.3) and ninth against the run (99.0). The Chargers also are fourth in turnover ratio (+7) and are doing all this against the best teams in the NFL. Wait a minute, no they aren't.
San Diego is undoubtedly a good team, but it isn't great (sound familiar, 2013 Chiefs?). Why are those stats so great? Because they have played against the Cardinals, Seahawks, Bills, Jaguars, Jets and Raiders. Want to know the offensive rankings of those teams based on yards per game? 28th, 20th, 25th, 32nd, 30th and 31st.
The Chiefs took a ton of grief, even around here, for playing a weak schedule last season and facing backup-level quarterbacks. The Chargers have seen Carson Palmer, Russell Wilson, EJ Manuel, Blake Bortles, Geno Smith and Derek Carr. Some of them might be fine quarterbacks down the road, but apart from Wilson, they all stink now. Even Wilson's team is 31st throwing the football.
Kansas City can win this game. Who is blocking Dontari Poe, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali? The answer would be a fourth-string center, King Dunlap and D.J. Fluker. Listen, nobody is saying this is going to easy or that San Diego isn't a legitimate team, but the idea that they're impossible to beat is crazy talk. In fact, I'll go this far; if the Chiefs rush for over 120 yards and sack or pressure Rivers consistently, they will win by a touchdown. Write it down and print it in 30-inch headlines.
At 2-3, a team would normally be finished. This team is way too talented to be done and about to put the hardest part of its schedule in the rearview mirror. If the Chiefs can get to 3-3, they will be in fantastic position to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
This is the best team Kansas City has fielded in years and it is only going to improve with players like De'Anthony Thomas, Knile Davis and Travis Kelce, among others, maturing. The Chiefs came close to beating the Broncos and 49ers on the road, and trouncing a good Patriots team in convincing fashion at home. Beating San Diego is well within their capability.
The run for the postseason begins right now.