The Chiefs fell 27-17 to the Broncos in Week 11, dropping them to 9-1 and into a tie with Denver atop the division. The Chargers, meanwhile, have lost three in a row after a 4-3 start, and are now in serious danger of missing the postseason for a fourth consecutive year.
Meet the Chiefs
The Chiefs offense is powered by lightning-fast running back Jamaal Charles, who ranks fifth in the league with 803 rushing yards this season. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry against Denver, but got just 18 touches -- his lowest workload of the season -- as the Chiefs played from behind the entire game. Depending on the game-managing Alex Smith to lead the way is not a position the Chiefs like finding themselves in.
What happened when an irresistible force (the Broncos offense) meets an immovable object (the Chiefs defense)? It turns out they met somewhere in the middle. While Broncos' 27 points was the highest total the Chiefs have allowed all season, it's also the lowest output from Peyton Manning and the Denver offense. Manning was prolific as always, however, neutralizing the dominant Kansas City pass rush with short drop backs and quick releases.
Meet the Chargers
The Chargers have had no problem moving the ball this season but have struggled to put the ball in the endzone; their offense ranks seventh in yards per game but 18th in scoring. That's no fault of Philip Rivers, who has charged back from a disappointing 2012 campaign to rank in the top six of quarterbacks in yards, completion percentage, touchdowns and passer rating. Ryan Mathews anchors the running game with a 4.4 yards per carry average, but has struggled to stay on the field on third downs due to pass blocking issues.
The offense's shortcoming has been the defense's strength; lots of yards, not a lot of points. The defense is 27th in terms of yardage allowed, but has relinquished the 11th-fewest points in the league. Their shaky run defense is allowing 4.8 yards per carry and will face a major test in Charles.
Local Takes: Chiefs
Matt Verderame at Arrowhead Pride notes what he sees as an overreaction by fans and media alike following the loss to Denver:
The sky is not falling, it isn't even overcast. Yet you will hear the idea of the Chiefs having been exposed as a fraud because at one point, they trailed Denver 27-10 in the fourth quarter. What those people fail to mention is Kansas City having the ball three times in the third quarter, starting drives from its 37, 35 and 19-yard lines. The Chiefs were down 17-10 each time and gained a grand total of nine yards. Some of the credit goes to a Denver defense most of us didn't think was there, but Kansas City killed itself with dumb penalties.
Local Takes: Chargers
The playoffs should never have been a consideration in the first place. Most of us didn't expect it heading into the season. Leading in, we only wanted Philip Rivers to become Philip Rivers again, for the offensive line to improve, and for the team to develop its young talent. Mission Accomplished. Then the Chargers went and destroyed Houston for a half (when we all thought Houson was a Super Bowl contender), and beat Philadelphia on the road one week after they looked like world-beaters against Washington. Suddenly, playoff contention looked like a very real possibility, and we got away from those original goals.
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
Last time Chiefs were favored over Chargers? Dick Vermeil was the coach http://t.co/fcwO4bQFsj— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) November 19, 2013
@adamteicher - Chiefs beat writer
Chiefs have 3 developmental linemen (Watkins, Kush, Rishaw Johnson). If Fisher's out vs Chargers, at least one would dress for game— Adam Teicher (@adamteicher) November 18, 2013
@UTgehlken - Chargers beat writer
Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram will return to practice Wednesday as a limited participant, per source. He suffered torn ACL in May.— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) November 19, 2013
Finally, the kind of AFC West matchup we've come to expect, one-sided. Five points, even for Alex Smith, is just a starting point for this one. The Chiefs should win this one by 10 points or more.
The pick: Chiefs
The Chiefs are expected to bounce back from their Week 11 loss, coming in as 4½-point favorites at Oddsshark.com.