Thursday, November 1, 2012
By Bill Williamson
Here’s a look at three key storylines for both the Chiefs and Chargers headed into Thursday’s game at San Diego:
Jamaal Charles' workload: Charles had 115 carries in the Chiefs’ first six games. But he had just five carries for 4 yards against Oakland. The Raiders got ahead of the Chiefs and, in turn, the Chiefs got away from Charles. The Chiefs must find a way to get their best offensive player in a rhythm. With the passing game struggling, the Chiefs must get the ball to Charles often.
Matt Cassel's chance: This is not what the Chiefs wanted. They wanted Brady Quinn to play and Cassel to sit on the bench. That’s why they made the move to Quinn before Week 8. But Quinn suffered a head injury against Oakland and Cassel is back in action. If Cassel can play well against the Chargers, he can regain his starting job, but his leash is short. We could see Ricky Stanzi get his first action if Cassel -- who threw three interceptions against the Chargers in Week 4 -- flounders.
Chiefs' bad streaks: The Chiefs are becoming a national curiosity because of their mind-blowing failures. Kansas City -- which is on pace to have the No. 1 pick in the draft -- has not led at any one point in its seven games. The Chiefs' lone win came in overtime. They are the first team not to hold a lead during its first seven games since the 1929 Buffalo Bisons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Kansas City hasn’t scored a touchdown on its first drive of any game dating to the start of last season. Will it change Thursday night?
Philip Rivers' slump: Many league observers believe Philip Rivers, who turns 31 next month, is experiencing a career decline. Yes, Rivers has not been great in recent games, but I’m not ready to say his career is on the line. He struggled for the first 10 games last season and then he finished 2011 strong. He started this season strong, but since halftime of a Week 5 loss to New Orleans, he has not played well. He has committed eight turnovers since then. If Rivers fails against the Chiefs, then there will be reason to worry. Until then, he is simply in a slump with the rest of his offense.
Norv Turner’s future: Earlier this week, Turner said he is coaching “week to week.” He may be right. If the Chargers lose to the Chiefs, I think we all may be on alert to see if the Spanos family pulls the trigger on Turner. Many people expected Turner to be fired after last season. But ownership believed in him. A loss to Kansas City would be the Chargers’ fourth straight, and with 10 days between games and half the season remaining, there would be no better time to make an in-season move on Turner.
Can Chargers create turnovers again? The Chargers' 37-20 Week 4 win at Kansas City was fueled by getting six turnovers. The Chargers (who haven't won since that game) led 17-0 in the first quarter after getting three turnovers. The Chiefs lead the NFL in turnovers and the Chiefs' minus-18 turnover differential is the worst in the NFL through seven games since the 1989 Lions (minus-21). The Chargers need to take advantage of the Chiefs' massive turnover problems again.