Chiefs vs. Chargers: Five Things to Watch from The Mothership
1. Chiefs red zone offense
While football isn't played on paper, one of the biggest advantages the Chiefs have in regards to trends in this game is when the Chiefs offense has the ball in the red zone.
The Chiefs rank fourth in the NFL in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 70.6 percent of the drives that get them inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
Consequently, that's an area where the Chargers defense has struggled this season. The Chargers rank last in the NFL in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 75 percent of drives that get deep into their own territory.
10/16 Practice Recap: The Surge of Philip Rivers from The Mothership
The Kansas City Chiefs have already played against both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning this year.
But with two legends in the rearview mirror, the best may be yet to come in their upcoming opposing quarterback Sunday.
Through the first six weeks of the season, it's not Brady and it's not Manning who lead the NFL in both passer rating and completion percentage.
Those feats belong to the Chargers' Philip Rivers.
Andy Reid and Alex Smith: Two Peas in a Pod from The Mothership
Through five games in 2014, Reid is 13-9 as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. He, along with second-year general manager John Dorsey, orchestrated the biggest turnaround in franchise history last year, helping the Chiefs go from just two wins in 2012 to 11 in 2013, a nine-win improvement.
Much of that success is due to the faith put in quarterback
Alex Smith, whom the Chiefs traded for from the San Francisco 49ers soon after Reid's arrival in Kansas City.
Along with the two second-round draft picks given up for Smith in that trade, the Chiefs made an even bigger commitment to him before the season, signing him to a contract extension that will keep him in Kansas City for the foreseeable future.
Coordinators Press Conferences 10/16 from The Mothership
Q: What are the challenges facing Philip Rivers? How is he different than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady?
SUTTON: "Right now I think most people would argue that he's probably playing the position as well as anybody in the league. He's right at 70% completion, hasn't been sacked very many times, hasn't turned the ball over. I think in the last two years, I really feel like this guy has gone from where you thought maybe he's leveling off to he's taking off. I think one of the things he's done a great job of in the past two seasons is he's done more taking what's available. He's such a gifted guy that in the past I think he was always waiting to see if somebody big would come open down the field, then he had to gun to get the ball down there. But now I think he sees the defense as he's doing it and he's much more comfortable dropping the ball off. I think it has made them a really efficient football team. He keeps the chains moving, he doesn't get negative yards very often. That's the real issue, the guy can make any throw, he's got a strong arm. He has a little bit of an unorthodox motion. But oh my gosh, the last two seasons he's been as accurate as anybody in the NFL."
Chiefs Weekly: Top Social Posts from The Mothership
Aaron Murraygot engaged over the weekend. He posted this photo with the caption that read, "Still can't believe she said yes! Blessed to be able to marry my best friend!"
KCChiefs.com Podcast: Chiefs Download 10/16
KCChiefs.com Video: Locker Room Sound 10/16
KCChiefs.com Video: Opponent Preview: San Diego Chargers
KCChiefs.com Video: Game Preview: Chiefs vs. Chargers
KCChiefs.com Video: Coach's Corner: Mitch speaks with David Culley
KCChiefs.com Video: Chiefs vs. Chargers: What to Take from 2013
KCChiefs.com Video: Chiefs Kingdom - "Houston 93" - Act 1
Chiefs facing red-hot Chargers QB Philip Rivers from Chiefs Digest
The Chiefs defense have clamped down on the big plays down the field that plagued the secondary in 2013, and Rivers played a role in those statistics with a 392-yard effort in Week 12.
Kansas City has allowed 11 plays of 20-plus yards on the season, a cause for optimism against Rivers when considering the Chiefs have already faced Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Chiefs have had more than fair share of issues with Chargers from The Associated Press via FS Kansas City
Rivers is the first quarterback to post a rating of 120 or higher in five consecutive games and finished at 123.8 in a 31-28 comeback win in Oakland last Sunday. He had three touchdown passes for the third straight game and topped 300 yards for the second time this season with 313, but the Chargers didn't wrap up the victory until Jason Verrett's interception with 1:13 to go.
Rivers completed 11 of his final 14 passes while leading the Chargers (5-1) to 17 points in the final 18 minutes and keeping them tied with Dallas and Philadelphia for the NFL's best record.
Since Andy Reid arrived as the head coach and Alex Smith as quarterback last year, the Kansas City Chiefs are 0-4 when they needed a late touchdown to win a game. They are 0-2 in those situations this season, failing to score late in last month's game in Denver and then again in their most recent game at San Francisco.
The solution on the surface might seem obvious. The Chiefs need to find a new coach and a new quarterback.
While that's a bit drastic, both Reid and Smith share some blame in the matter.
Rookie CB Phillip Gaines ready if Chiefs call his number from Chiefs Digest
The Chiefs have been hammered by injuries this season and another "next man up" scenario present itself entering Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.
Nickel cornerback Chris Owens (knee) missed a second straight practice Thursday, placing his status in doubt for Week 7.
The Chiefs could turn to rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines or cornerback Jamell Fleming in the event Owens can't play.
Chargers Will Get Tested By Alex Smith, Chiefs from CBS Los Angeles
Michael Vick, a 14-year veteran, took over in relief of Geno Smith in the second half of New York's 31-0 loss to San Diego. Otherwise the Chargers saw rookies in Jacksonville's Blake Bortles and Oakland's Derek Carr.
They know they're getting something different in Smith, a 10-year veteran who is having a solid season serving as a complement to the AFC's second-best running attack.
Cream puff portion of schedule over for streaking Rivers, Chargers, who host Smith, Chiefs from The Associated Press via FOX News
The bakery the San Diego Chargers have been visiting the past three weeks is closed.
In other words, no more cream puffs.
After fattening up on three bottom-feeders, including two winless teams, Philip Rivers and the surging Chargers (5-1) host Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs.
While the Chiefs (2-3) are sub-.500, it's an AFC West rivalry and the teams played two close, wild games last season.
5) Who needs elite play from their QB in S.D. more: Chargers or Chiefs?
Philip Rivers is a top-tier candidate for league MVP right now. But the way Branden Oliver is running and the defense is swarming, San Diego can win on Sunday even if Rivers doesn't dazzle. (For the record, I actually think Phil will shine and San Diego will win.)
On the other hand, even with Jamaal Charles' tantalizing, game-breaking ability and K.C.'s imposing pass rush, the Chiefs need Smith to be a model of efficiency and exploit favorable matchups with emerging weapon Travis Kelce.
I think Kansas City is destined to finish with seven or eight wins. If they are going to prove me wrong, they need Smith to take over a game like this.
Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Chiefs from Chargers.com
On Defense for the Chargers
The Bolts rank in the top 10 in all four major statistical categories, led by
Donald Butlerand Eric Weddlein tackles with 36 and 35 respectively. Dwight Freeney's two sacks pace the club, while he also leads the team in both pressures (11) and QB hits (12- tied with Corey Liuget).
NFL Preview - Kansas City (2-3) at San Diego (5-1) (ET) from The Miami Herald
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
In order to stop - or at least slow down - the prodigious run of success that Rivers has been on, the Chiefs will need to pressure him and disrupt his rhythm.
Kansas City has been somewhat successful doing that to other foes thus far in 2014 while recording 15 sacks - seventh-best in the league. Justin Houston has six of those 15, good for third in the league as an individual.
Chiefs Provide Interesting Challenge from NBC San Diego
The Chargers defense is the best in the NFL against opposing tight ends...
...I can come up with two reasons why:
1) They get to practice against Antonio Gates every day, and if you don't get really good going against that cat, you're borderline hopeless.
2) Eric Weddle.
Usually, teams think they've got a mismatch if they can isolate a tight end on a safety. However, the All-Pro has been extremely good in coverage against me who are routinely six inches and 60 pounds bigger than he is.
Guys like Chiefs monster Travis Kelce...
If Flowers can't play, Shareece Wright or Richard Marshall would be the likely replacement at left starting cornerback, with rookie Jason Verrett the likely starter at right cornerback.
Along with Flowers, inside linebacker Manti Te'o(foot), outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) and running backs Ryan Mathews(knee) and Donald Brown (concussion) did not practice for a second day in a row.
The Chiefs have four defensive backs on their injury report, highlighted by safety Eric Berry. Berry worked for the first two practice days of the week, sparking hope he could play on Sunday for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain a month ago in a game against the Broncos in Denver.
But Berry was not present for the early portion of Thursday's practice, an ominous sign for his chances of playing in San Diego.
Also absent from practice again was nickelback Chris Owens, who has a sore knee. He is unlikely to be available in San Diego.
Week 7 NFL Preview: Chiefs at Chargers from Lindy's Sports
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
The Chiefs are well-rested coming off their bye and well-motivated to close the gap in the AFC West - lose this one and they're essentially four games behind their rival. More important, K.C. has film of Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr dissecting the Chargers for four touchdowns last week.
*Our pick: Chiefs 26-24
Stephen: I'm so sick of Kansas City and their damn sports dominance. Time for Phil Rivers and his gang of merrymakers to knocked them down a peg or two. CHARGERS
Jason: The Chiefs still haven't won a playoff game since I was a sophomore in college, Stephen. Please understand and don't take it personally when I text at 2 a.m. to gloat every day for the last two weeks. Chiefs
Ryan: Not that I'm an especially prudent calorie counter or anything, but food brands that disclose unreasonably small serving sizes should be prosecuted to the FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW. For example, and they're far from the only people who do this, a Tombstone Pizza serving is labeled as 1/5th of a pizza. Who on this planet is going to be satisfied by that portion? Who do they think they're fooling with that nonsense in the first place? Chargers.
Chargers not playing that old trap game from The Associated Press via The Kitsap Sun
Should the Chargers (5-1) get by the Chiefs (2-3), they'll bring the AFC West lead into Denver, not to mention the conference's best record.
"It's going to be a tough, tough division game," cornerback Brandon Flowers said of Kansas City. "Every team can be dangerous in this league, as you saw last week."
He referred to San Diego's 31-28 squeaker over winless Oakland.
"A record doesn't matter," Flowers added. "I played on a Kansas City team and we were 4-12, but we felt like we had athletes and the skill level to play anybody. That was one of the years we beat Green Bay when they were undefeated."
Mauga, Chiefs set sights on S.D. from Nevada Appeal
The break continued right before the regular season when starting linebacker Joe Mays was placed on injured reserve, opening the door for Mauga to start in Week 1 of the NFL against Tennessee.
Six weeks later, Mauga currently leads the Chiefs in tackles with 36, a career high, and has started every game, including a return trip to the Bay Area where friends and family saw him compete against the 49ers.
With the Chiefs (2-3) coming off a bye and visiting San Diego on Sunday, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has been impressed with Mauga and his ex-Nevada teammate James-Michael Johnson, who filled in for the injured Derrick Johnson.
NFL Week 7 expert picks against the spread - Doc's locks from Larry Brown Sports
First off, Doc likes the Chiefs plus the points this week for one simple reason: you don't go against Andy Reid coming off a bye. Reid has an unreal history when coming off a bye as long as he has a semi-competent team. The reason is simple: he's an excellent coach and just kills it with his game preparation when he has an extra week to study his team's weaknesses and his opponent. Kansas City is more than a competent team, so Doc definitely like them in this game.
‘We Can't Wait on This' from MMQB
Hali is typically reserved, and he's not comfortable being a spokesman for anything. This is different, though. He understands that there are few famous Liberians in America, so he knows it's up to him to speak up and try to get people to donate money and time to help contain Ebola, a viral disease for which there is no proven treatment. The fatality rate averages about 50%, according to the World Health Organization.
"We can't really wait on this," Hali said on Wednesday before the Chiefs hit the field to practice for Sunday's game at San Diego. "I'd be the first one to tell you that every time I do charity work, I like to do it on the hush-hush and help people quietly. But there are some matters-like this-that are way bigger than me. All I can do is lend my help in ways I know I can.
"This is not a type of disease you can contract and then there are vaccines and it goes away. People are dying within weeks and within the first month of contact. So we have to act now."
A life off-center: Mike Webster's battles from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Webster's preparation and understanding of the offense are why many people thought he would make an excellent coach when he retired from playing.
Webster left the Steelers on Feb. 23, 1988, and joined the Chiefs as an assistant offensive line coach five days later. But, after working nearly six weeks in the offseason with their offensive lineman, Webster went to Carl Peterson, the Chiefs' president and general manager, with a suggestion.
''He said, 'I think I might be more effective on the field than on the sidelines,' '' Peterson said.
So Webster played two more seasons with the Chiefs, starting all 16 games in 1989 and seven out of nine games that he played in 1990. His new teammates marveled at the way a 15-year NFL veteran would still turn from the huddle and sprint to the line of scrimmage, a Webster trademark.