AFC West: 2013 Week 4 QB Watch

QB Watch: Chiefs' Alex Smith

October, 2, 2013
A weekly analysis of the Chiefs' quarterback play:

Rewind: Alex Smith had season highs in passing yards (288) and touchdowns (three) in the Chiefs' 31-7 win over the New York Giants, but he also threw a pair of interceptions, his first of the season. Smith took more shots down the field in the passing game and was rewarded. The Chiefs had five pass plays of 20 yards or more. Still, his passer rating was his lowest of the season and his Total QBR was second lowest.

Fast-forward: This could be another messy game for Smith on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans are sixth in the league in sacks per opponent pass attempt, so they can put pressure on the quarterback. Cornerback Alterraun Verner is tied for the league lead in interceptions with four, so Smith needs to be aware of his whereabouts at all times.

Don't blame him: The two interceptions against the Giants weren't Smith's fault. On the first one, Dwayne Bowe ran a lazy slant route and allowed the Giants cornerback to beat him to the ball. On the second, Smith's throw was slightly behind Jamaal Charles and Charles deflected the ball into the air. He accidentally kicked it on his way to the ground and it then went into the possession of a Giants defender.

Prediction: Smith's passing attempts and completions have been within a narrow range in the first four games of the season, and there's no reason to believe that will change against Tennessee. Look for Smith to go 23-of-39 for 260 yards, a pair of touchdowns and another interception, this one being his fault.
A weekly analysis of the San Diego Chargers' quarterback play.

Rewind: Well, you really can't play quarterback any better than Philip Rivers did against the Dallas Cowboys. He completed 83.3 percent of his passes, including 14 straight in the second half. He threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Rivers' only speed bump was an interception returned for a touchdown by Dallas linebacker Sean Lee. On the play, he was hit while throwing the ball by defensive tackle Jason Hatcher. In San Diego's new offense directed by coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Rivers looks more comfortable in the pocket, is making good decisions and is getting the ball out quick. And he's had good protection, with the Chargers' offensive line giving up just six sacks in four games.

Fast-forward: In his past three games against Oakland, Sunday's opponent, Rivers has thrown for 693 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception. All three of those contests have been victories for San Diego, including two at Oakland. The Raiders are giving up 237.5 passing yards a contest, rating 14th in the NFL. The Raiders have allowed seven passing touchdowns through four games and have no interceptions on the season.

Next man up: The Chargers played without three projected starters on the offensive line against Dallas but gave up only one sack against a talented Cowboys defensive front led by DeMarcus Ware. The consistent play of San Diego's unheralded offensive line has been one of the main reasons for Rivers' rebirth. San Diego coach Mike McCoy has been quick to credit offensive line coaches Joe D'Alessandris and Andrew Dees for getting that unit ready to play each week, regardless of who is available.

Prediction: Rivers will play well, but he won't need to put up gaudy numbers in this one. Let's go with 25-of-31 for 255 yards and two touchdowns.