We have a big AFC West game Monday night in Kansas City as the Chiefs host San Diego.
If the Chiefs win, the Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders (who are on a bye this week) will be tied for first place in the AFC West at 4-3. If the Chargers win, they will be in first place by themselves at 5-2 and the Chiefs will be 3-4, two games behind San Diego and will have been swept by the Chargers. So, if the Chiefs want to win back-to-back division titles, they need to win this game.
The following are several statistics -- courtesy of ESPN Stats and Information -- that help tell why the Chiefs and Chargers are where they are heading into this game. Let’s take a look:
The Chargers are moving the ball, but they aren’t scoring that well. San Diego is first in the NFL in time of possession and second in third-down conversions, yet they are just 15th in the NFL in scoring. The Chargers are stalling inside their opponent’s 40-yard line. Seven of the Chargers’ 12 turnovers have been committed inside their opponent’s 40.
San Diego is averaging just 3.4 yards per play inside their opponent’s 40, ranking 28th in the NFL. Quarterback Philip Rivers has been sacked five times inside the opponent’s 40, ranking 22nd.
Defensively, the Chargers are one of six teams to allow fewer than 300 yards per game. But they are 18th in scoring defense.
San Diego has 10 sacks, which ranks 29th. It has seven turnovers, tied for 26th and opponents are converting on third down 43.9 of the time, ranking 28th.
San Diego is just not playing timely defense. These offensive and defensive issues show you the Chargers are capable of doing much better even though they are 4-2.
During the first three games, when the Chiefs were 0-3, they averaged 24.7 runs a game, which was tied for 17th. In the past three games, all victories, Kansas City is averaging 35 rushes a game, tied for the most in the NFL. Kansas City won the AFC West last season partly because it had the best rushing game in the NFL. So, it learned to stick with it even after Charles’ loss.
Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel has improved in his downfield passing in the past three games. He has completed 46.7 of his passes that are 11-plus yards and is averaging 10.4 yards per completion with three touchdowns on those throws. In the first three games, Cassel completed 33.3 percent, averaged 8.6 yards and had no touchdown passes on downfield throws.
In the past four games, punt returner Javier Arenas is averaging an NFL-high 17 yards per return. In the first two games, he averaged 8.3 per return.