Buying: Philip Rivers
This is obvious, but there's no way to talk about the San Diego Chargers without starting with their quarterback. Philip Rivers is having his best season ever, a real statement given the incredible-yet-underrated he's turned in so far. Let's throw out a few numbers to show why you should buy, in case you've somehow been unaware.
- The Chargers average an NFL-worst 2.9 yards/carry.
- They are 2nd in the NFL in total rushes.
- The Chargers are still somehow No. 12 overall in yards/play at 5.7.
The Chargers can move the chains among the best teams in the NFL even though they continue to utilize the worst (statistically) running game in the league time and again. Philip Rivers allows for such luxuries. He leads the NFL in completion percentage (69.3 percent), yards per attempt (8.8), and quarterback rating (117.6). If the Chargers make the playoffs, he's a real MVP candidate.
Selling: Chiefs secondary
See above. Given the incredible performance of Rivers on the season (I forgot to mention 15 touchdowns to only two interceptions), it's hard to believe in the Chiefs secondary this week. The potential addition of Eric Berry will help immensely, but that's questionable at this point. Chris Owens is also likely going to sit although the Chiefs will toy with things before declaring it so. The Chiefs have held their own, but the Chargers are truly firing on all cylinders.
Eddie Royal's injury turned out to be no big deal last week, which means Rivers will have his targets. Malcolm Floyd and Ladarius Green came up big last week as the Raiders tried to shadow Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates. It's impossible to cover them all, so the Chiefs absolutely need their pass rush to come up big for all four quarters to keep Rivers from getting his looks.
Buying: Sean Smith
All that said, it's important to note what's working and Sean Smith is definitely working in 2014. The Chiefs cornerback has been the third most effective defender according to Pro Football Focus, and an eye test will tell you the same. Smith is having a very strong year for the Chiefs.
Teams are largely avoiding Smith (or targeting Marcus Cooper) over the last few weeks. Against the Patriots, Smith was exceptional, allowing only a single six-yard catch on four attempts. He also hasn't allowed a touchdown since the opening game against the Titans.
The Chiefs will need several exceptional performances in the secondary against the Chargers, but Smith is a good start for Bob Sutton's defense.
Not-Quite-Selling: Cairo Santos
This is really an incomplete grade. He's a rookie. We're working with a small sample size. But it's hard to avoid checking in on the whole Ryan Succop vs. Cairo Santos battle that the entire NFL can't stop talking about.
Through Week 6, Succop is easily having the better season. He's 9-for-11 on field goals on the year, better than Santos' mark of 5-for-7. Even more, opposing teams are starting at the 19-yard-line when Succop kicks off. Against the Chiefs, the average starting spot is at the 25-yard-line. Yep, that's a big difference.
He'll get better. He started in the hole. Dave Toub and the Chiefs made the choice they did for a reason. They liked his potential and his price tag. But so far, Santos looks like a replacement level kicker.