Matchup: Chiefs @ ChargersThursday, November 01, 2012
Thursday Night Football
Kansas City @ San Diego
High winds and soggy turf had a hand in San Diego's offensive ineptitude during last week’s embarrassing 7-6 loss at Cleveland, but it was the continuance of mind-boggling mistakes by what appears to be a genuinely bad Chargers team that sealed its fate. There was Ryan Mathews' third-drive fumble. Multiple Philip Rivers throws that should have been picked off. Robert Meachem's highlight-reel third-quarter drop. San Diego's offense has now gone 17 possessions without a touchdown and committed six turnovers during that span, not including two turnovers on downs. Perhaps returning home to face a Chiefs defense allowing the fifth most points in the NFL will spark things? There's just nothing to suggest that in San Diego's last six quarters of action. ... The Chargers at least had a plan in their first game back from the Week 6 bye; they wanted to run the football. Coach Norv Turner called designed runs on 14 of San Diego's first 20 offensive snaps against Cleveland, before the anxiety of being a predictable, one-dimensional team ostensibly got to him and Turner began mixing in pass plays. While the production hasn't overwhelmed, the fact that Mathews has 52 touches over his last two games can give glass-half-full fantasy owners faith that Turner will stay committed to the ground game. The Chiefs rank 23rd against the run and figure to be dead-legged defensively after Darren McFadden went for season highs in rushing, total yardage, and carries against them last week. This is a favorable matchup, but Mathews needs his teammates to generate more ball movement in order to become the high-scoring back he's so capable of being.
The Chiefs use Stanford Routt at right cornerback on every defensive snap. He is Kansas City's weaker corner, and opponents regularly pick on him. "We were going to come in and attack him," said Carson Palmer following last week's win. "We had a great game plan coming in and took some shots at him." Routt was victimized on each of Palmer's two Week 8 touchdown passes, in addition to Denarius Moore's 58-yard gain. The tendency of offenses to go after Routt is relevant Thursday night because Malcom Floyd plays the majority of his snaps on Routt's side of the field. ... Free-agent bust Meachem has gone catch-less in three of his last six games. Set to square off with Chiefs top CB Brandon Flowers for most of this one, Meachem isn't a fantasy option. ... I don't think Antonio Gates has lost a step, but there's no doubt that defenses key up to take him away and he's struggling to get open. Gates was targeted four times against the Browns, dropped one, and caught two for 14 yards. Gates will match up with Chiefs SS Eric Berry on Thursday, and Berry has been a major coverage liability all year. ... 26th in fantasy QB scoring, Rivers has fallen off to the point that he's just two-quarterback league material. Kansas City's defense has a 15:5 TD-to-INT ratio against and allows the most yards per pass attempt in the AFC (8.7). For Rivers, the matchup is right. His recent performance suggests he could easily turn in another dud.
Wednesday Update: With Meachem (hamstring) added to Wednesday's injury report as questionable and slot receiver Eddie Royal (hamstring) listed as doubtful, the Chargers may be forced to turn to Danario Alexander and Seyi Ajirotutu in three-wide sets opposite Floyd.
The soon-to-be-fired clowns running the show in Kansas City got Jamaal Charles the ball eight times in last week's loss to Oakland. He had five runs and three receptions. "I would love for Jamaal Charles to have five carries (again)," Chargers OLB Shaun Phillips said this week. "He's their best player." Logical thinkers might anticipate Chiefs coaches fixing the problem in their next game, although NFL coaching staffs don't always operate logically. So we'll just have to see. The Chiefs and Chargers played in Week 4 this year, and Charles shredded San Diego for 111 yards, a 5.18 YPC average, and two touchdowns. There is some silver lining to last week's workload; Charles will have fresh legs Thursday night. ... Peyton Hillis and Shaun Draughn rotated in behind Charles against the Raiders. Neither Hillis nor Draughn has standalone value, but they can be drains on Charles' if playcaller Brian Daboll attempts to stick with a committee. ... Dexter McCluster lined up in the backfield and at slot receiver versus Oakland, gaining 69 yards on eight touches and scoring from ten yards out in fourth-quarter garbage time. McCluster had two catches for six yards in the aforementioned Chiefs-Chargers game. McCluster is a checkdown option for Matt Cassel and offers little to no standard-league fantasy appeal. He would be a desperation WR3 in PPR.
The clown show confirmed this week that Brady Quinn remains Kansas City's starting quarterback when healthy, but Cassel will start Thursday because Quinn hasn't received medical clearance to return from his concussion. Last week's three-catch, 65-yard game was discouraging, but Dwayne Bowe's average stat line when Cassel has played the majority of Kansas City's snaps this season is 6/78 with three TDs in six games. Bowe had seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in the Week 4 game. Quinn got Bowe the ball three times for 25 scoreless yards in his lone full start. Bowe is a virtual lock for year-long inconsistency because his quarterback situation is unreliable regardless of who's under center, but fantasy owners should be hard pressed to bench him at San Diego. ... Tony Moeaki made a couple of nice catches down the seam and sideline against the Raiders, but he's yet to clear 60 yards in a game this season and still hasn't found pay dirt. San Diego has also been stingy against tight ends (25th-most fantasy points allowed). ... Jon Baldwin and Steve Breaston continue to rotate at the receiver position across from Bowe. Breaston hasn't so much as caught a pass in over a month. Baldwin plays more snaps, but averages 29 yards a game.
Score Prediction: Chargers 21, Chiefs 16