NFL GAME PREVIEW

Week 7 NFL Preview: Chiefs at Chargers

The Sports Xchange

October 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm.

The Chiefs utilize a slew of different formations and while they lack great downfield playmaking, QB Alex Smith does a good job of attacking underneath against defenses. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) at San Diego Chargers (5-1)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

*Keys to the game: Despite several key injuries, the Chiefs’ defense has done an excellent job in not allowing a single 300-yard passer this season while giving up only 11 completions of 20-plus yards. That won’t fluster Chargers QB Philip Rivers, who has morphed into a master of short drops and quick releases to complement an under-gunned ground game to keep the chains moving. San Diego has a plus-seven turnover margin and controls the ball on average 9:07 longer than its opponents. The Chiefs have produced just three takeaways on defense, but could receive a boost with the
expected return of S Eric Berry (ankle).

The Chiefs utilize a slew of different formations and while they lack great downfield playmaking, QB Alex Smith does a good job of attacking underneath against defenses focused on RB Jamaal Charles. Smith is generally accurate, but has misfired to open receivers in several critical situations this season. The Chargers lack a single marquee pass rusher, but 11 players have contributed to the team’s 12 sacks on the season.

*Matchup to watch – Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali vs. Chargers LT King Dunlap: Hali has 10.5 career sacks of Rivers, more than any other passer he has taken down. Hali has 3.0 sacks this season, but Dunlap has quietly emerged as one of the league’s more consistent blindside protectors.

*Player spotlight – Chiefs TE Travis Kelce: The second-year player quietly leads the Chiefs with 20 catches, 274 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Kansas City will use him in a variety of formations and put Kelce in motion seeking mismatches.

*Fast facts: Charles needs 53 yards to become the Chiefs’ all-time leading rusher (Priest Holmes, 6,070 yards). … The Chargers have won the past four meetings and eight of the past 10.

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