NFL Wire News

Week 17 Preview: Chargers at Chiefs

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San Diego Chargers (9-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (8-7)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo. – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Jenny Dell

*Keys to the game: Chargers QB Philip Rivers added to his impressive resume of late-season heroics in last week’s comeback victory over the 49ers. However, he will be hard-pressed to repeat that magic against a Chiefs team that has not allowed 30 points in a game all season. WR Keenan Allen (collarbone) is not expected to play while RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is uncertain.

Mathews missed the first meeting, a 23-20 Chiefs victory in San Diego in Week 7 in which the Chargers managed just 69 yards on the ground. Rivers was sacked twice and hit four times, and can’t expect another four quarters of constant pressure unless the ground game is able to muster some positive yardage on early downs.

While their defense continues to play well, the Chiefs’ last-season swoon can be attributed to their sputtering offense. K.C. Has scored an average of 15.5 points in its four losses over the past five weeks. San Diego struggled with the dual threat of San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick last week, but these teams know each other extremely well. The Chargers held the Chiefs to 3.9 yards in the first meeting, but QB Alex Smith will take a repeat of those numbers as it still sets him up to be highly efficient in third-and-medium.

*Matchup to watch – Chargers TE Antonio Gates vs. Chiefs safeties Husain Abdullah and Ron Parker: Gates has 25 catches for 263 yards and three TDs over the past four games, and has caught more career touchdown passes against the Chiefs (15) than any other team — including one in Week 7. Abdullah and Parker alternate between free and strong safety roles and both will see time against Gates in coverage.

*Player spotlight – Chiefs OLB Justin Houston: With 18 sacks, Houston holds the NFL lead by a half-sack over Houston’s J.J. Watt and is two shy of tying Derrick Thomas’ single-season franchise record.

*Fast facts: Rivers has 252 career TD passes, two shy of Hall of Famer Dan Fouts’ franchise record. … In two seasons under coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs are 13-3 in the first half of the season but just 6-9 during the second half of the schedule.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

For the Chargers, it’s win and they’re in the playoffs. For the Chiefs, it’s win while trying not to do too much scoreboard watching. The Chiefs are healthier and at home, and keep their hopes alive by dominating time of possession.

*Our pick: Chiefs 20-16


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