By kickoff on Sunday, the San Diego Chargers will know whether or not the playoffs are in the cards. Expect the Chargers to finish one game above .500, regardless of playoff implications. A 9-7 record sounds better than an 8-8 season, even if it causes a drop in their draft spot. The Kansas City Chiefs, with no advantage of improving their fifth seed, are going to rest their starters. From a Chiefs’ perspective, this could resemble a Week 4 preseason game.
Depending on who shows up on the field for the Chiefs, here are three matchups that the Chargers must overcome.
— San Diego defense vs. Jamaal Charles
Last meeting, Charles ran over the Chargers’ defense, rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Charles’ longest run went for 46 yards. The San Diego defense has gotten better, but they’re still liable for big plays. This is all based on if Charles suits up and plays for a half. If not, then the advantage goes to San Diego.
— Philip Rivers vs. the Kansas City defense.
Rivers lit the Chiefs’ defense for 392 yards and three touchdowns in their previous meeting. Last week, the Chiefs let Donald Brown and Adam Vinateri beat them at home in December, where they’re almost invincible. No Tamba Hali could lead to a great day for Rivers. The advantage goes to San Diego.
— Special Teams Returners
Despite all the accolades, Keenan Allen shows his inexperience on punts. Eddie Royal would be the logical alternative, but Allen’s return stats are more favorable. Kicking to Quintin Demps on kickoffs and Dexter McCluster on punts are still dangerous decisions, as they are both elusive and have scored on returns this season. The advantage goes to Kansas City.