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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Chiefs
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The Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) travel to Arrowhead Stadium for a pivotal AFC West showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs (7-6). The primetime affair is set to kickoff at 5:25pm PT.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
Philip Rivers is on one of the most impressive streaks of his career. In his last three games, number 17 has completed 76 of 107 attempts for 1,097 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. In the process, he’s posted three straight games of a passer rating above 100 for the first time since 2014. Overall, Rivers is 290-of-462 (62.8 percent) on the year for 3,611 yards, 23 TDs and seven picks for a 97.3 rating. Keenan Allen has reclaimed his spot as one of the game’s elite wide receivers. KA13 has caught 83 passes for 1,143 yards and five touchdowns on the year, and has posted four straight 100-yard receiving games. That is tied with Antonio Brown for the longest streak this season and is the second-best streak in franchise history. On the ground, Melvin Gordon is closing in on his first 1,000-yard season. Gordon has carried the rock 229 times for 853 yards (3.7 ypc) and six touchdowns. He’s also set a new career-high with 43 receptions for 307 yards and another four scores.
On Offense for the Chiefs
Alex Smith leads one of the most explosive and versatile offenses in the NFL. The veteran QB is 293 of 436 on the year (67.2 percent) for 3,507 yards, 23 TDs and five interceptions for a 104.4 rating. His top weapon is tight end Travis Kelce, who leads the team with 73 receptions for 945 yards and seven touchdowns. Speedster Tyreek Hill is another dangerous threat, hauling in 64 passes for 986 yards and six scores. He’s also one of the best at using his legs, taking off 53 times for another 329 yards (6.2 ypc) with one TD. On the ground, rookie rusher Kareem Hunt has toted the rock 218 times for 1,046 yards (4.8 avg.) with five rushing touchdowns.
On Defense for the Chargers
The Chargers are on a roll of late with takeaways being key to their success. In fact, since starting 0-4, the defense leads the league with 15 interceptions. In the last five games, the Bolts have picked off 11 passes including two pick-sixes, Overall, their 225 points allowed are the second-fewest in the NFL this season.
On Defense for the Chiefs
Safety Daniel Sorensen has been a thorn in the Bolts’ side his entire career, and he’s in the midst of his fourth season in the pros. Sorensen leads the team with 80 tackles, followed next by veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson. Justin Houston continues to be one of the best pass rushers in the game, boasting 9.5 sacks on the year. In the secondary, Marcus Peters is tied with Terrance Mitchell for the team lead with three picks. KC recently added future Hall of Famer Darrelle Revis, who will be playing in his third game of the year on Saturday.
Kansas City holds a 59-55-1 lead in the all-time series against the Chargers and a 34-23 record at home. The Chiefs have gotten the better of the Chargers as of late, winning the last seven matchups. The last meeting at Arrowhead was a 33-27, overtime thriller to open the 2016 season. The last victory for the Chargers at Kansas City was a 41-38 triumph on Nov. 24, 2013.
By the Numbers
The Chargers rank fifth in total offense (372.7 yards per game), third in passing (281.5 ypg), 24th in rushing (99.5 ypg) and 15th in points (22.9). The Chiefs rank sixth in total offense (371.3 ypg), eighth in passing (254.7 ypg), 12th in rushing (116.6 ypg) and sixth in points (25.3).
Defensively, the Bolts rank 10th in total defense (325.1 ypg), third in passing (200.3 ypg), 29th in rushing (124.8 ypg) and second in points allowed (17.3). Kansas City ranks 28th in total defense (373.4 ypg), 28th in passing (248.5 ypg), 30th in rushing (124.8 ypg) and 15th in points allowed (22.2).
Milestones on the Horizon
Melvin Gordon needs two more receiving touchdowns to reach six for the season, which would tie Danny Woodhead (2013, ‘15) for the second-most in a single season by a running back in franchise history. Gordon also needs 107 more rushing yards to reach 2,520, which would pass Dickie Post for ninth in team history.
The next touchdown pass between Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates will be the 86th connection for the pair, breaking a tie with Steve Young and Jerry Rice for the second-most in NFL history. Gates also needs five more receptions to reach 921 for his career, which would pass Torry Holt for 20th in NFL history. Meanwhile, he is three receiving yards shy of reaching 11,374 for his career, which would pass Keenan McCardell for 32nd in NFL history.
Noteworthy vs. the Chiefs
In 25 career games against Kansas City, Antonio Gates has 114 catches, good for 1,421 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has more receptions, yards and touchdowns vs. the Chiefs than any other single opponent.
During a Chargers game against Kansas City in Nov. 2015, Philip Rivers became the franchise’s all-time leader for career completions. During the Bolts’ second meeting that year in Kansas City, Rivers passed former Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana to become the 15th-most prolific passer (yards) in NFL history.
In the Chargers’ 2004 regular-season finale, Rivers threw the first touchdown pass of his NFL career against the Chiefs.
In the Chargers’ 2016 regular-season finale, Jahleel Addae took an interception 90 yards for the score. The touchdown was a career-first for the safety.
Hunter Henry hauled in his team-leading eighth touchdown reception in the 2016 season finale. The eight touchdowns were tied for the most in the league by a tight end and the second-most among rookies.
Chiefs Running Backs Coach Eric Bieniemy was drafted by the Chargers in the 1991 NFL Draft and played three seasons with the team from 1991-1994.
Chiefs Wide Receivers Coach Greg Lewis was the receivers coach for the Chargers in 2012.
Chargers Running Backs Coach Alfredo Roberts played for the Chiefs in 1988-90.
Chargers Wide Receivers Coach Nick Sirianni coached in Kansas City from 2009-12.
Chargers DT Damion Square played for Kansas City in 2013.
NFL Network (KCBS2 – local) – Greg Gumbel (play-by-play), Trent Green (analyst) and Jamie Erdahl (sideline)
KFI-AM 640 – Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Nick Hardwick (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)
Spanish Radio: KFWB – AM 980 -–Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Tony Alvarez (analyst)
Chargers radio broadcasts throughout the season will be able to be heard across 11 radio stations from Southern California to Nevada. Fans can listen in English on KGB-FM and KLSD AM (San Diego), KNWZ-AM (Palm Springs), KALZ-AM (Fresno), KBFP-AM (Bakersfield), KNWH-FM (Yucca Valley), KRLV-FM (Las Vegas), KRAK-AM (Victorville/Hesperia), KATY-FM (San Bernardino) and KPLY-AM (Reno). Spanish broadcasts can be heard on XHFG-FM (San Diego).