Chiefs vs. Chargers: 10 Keys to the Game for San Diego

Alex Ramirez@@alexramirez127Correspondent IOctober 30, 2012

Chiefs vs. Chargers: 10 Keys to the Game for San Diego

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    The San Diego Chargers started the season 2-0. Since then, they are 3-4, including three straight losses. 

    Surprisingly, the only game the Chargers didn't have the lead at one point during their skid was against the Browns. They had double digit leads against the Broncos and Saints, before falling apart. 

    2012 is a season of downward spiral. After their 7-6 loss to the Browns, yes the Browns, most hope from fans is gone.

    They scored only six points against the Browns.

    A short week could be a good thing for the Chargers. They will face the worst team in the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs who, like the Browns, are looking for their second win. 

Contain Jamaal Charles

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    Jamaal Charles has 595 yards on 120 attempts. That's a 5.0 yard per carry average. 

    San Diego, up until last week, had one of the league's best run defenses. Trent Richardson proved it was possible to break the century mark against the Chargers in week eight, and Charles has the ability to do the same.

    In his first game against San Diego, Charles ran for 88 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown where he ran to one side of the field, and ended up scoring on the other side. It was very "Chris Johnson" like I must say.

    With the mess at quarterback in Kansas City, San Diego needs to eliminate the run early in the game. 

Contain Dexter McCluster

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    Dexter McCluster, behind Jamaal Charles, is the Chiefs' most explosive play maker. 

    His stats aren't very enticing, with only 241 yards receiving and one touchdown, but his versatility gives him the capability of being Percy Harvin-like. In his first game against the Chargers, he was held to two receptions for six yards. It's clear what Kansas City wants to do. They are looking to get him the ball on a screen pass, and give him room to run. If the Chargers give him space, he'll make the most of it. 

Give Rivers Time

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    When Philip Rivers has time, he is the most effective quarterback in the league. Well, at least that's what the statistics say. Rivers has completed 76% of his passes when he hasn't been blitzed, hurried or knocked down. That's the only category Rivers leads in the NFL.

    Ever since last year, Rivers has not been protected consistently. Jared Gaither needs to stay healthy for EVERY game, not just two or three at a time. As for the rest of the offensive line, with exception to Nick Hardwick, they need to step up and play better. Philip Rivers is the least mobile quarterback in the league, he NEEDS time. 

    If the Chargers block effectively for Rivers, we wouldn't even think of putting any blame on him. 

No Drops by Receivers

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    Giving Rivers time will not matter if receivers continue dropping passes. 

    As mentioned in the slide above, Philip Rivers is accurate with space and time. He'll get the ball to his receivers, but they need to make sure to catch the ball. The Chargers rank 31st in the league in receiver receptions and 1st in running back receptions. Malcom Floyd has been the only dependable guy, but defenses are recognizing that and shutting him down throughout the game. 

    Do we even need to mention the play with Robert Meachem against the Browns? San Diego now has four healthy receivers in Malcom Floyd, Robert Meachem, Seyi Ajirotutu and Danario Alexander. Hopefully Eddie Royal can give it a go Thursday Night. 

Antonio Gates Must Be Involved

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    In week six, Antonio Gates made six receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns. Five of the receptions, including the two touchdowns, came in the first half. San Diego led 24-0 at halftime if you don't remember. 

    When the future hall of famer is involved, the Chargers just seem to do better. Because defenses aren't worried about Meachem and Royal like they were with Vincent Jackson and Vincent Brown last season, they can focus on stopping Gates.

    San Diego must find a way to open the field up for Antonio, because he'll make the plays the Chargers have been looking for.

Consistently Get to the Quarterback

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    Corey Liuget recorded the first sack for the Chargers since the first half of the Saints game against the Browns in the second half. San Diego has not been breaking through the line and getting to the quarterback, giving him time to rip apart the secondary.

    Yes, the secondary can play better, but the pass rush's ineffectiveness isn't helping. Shaun Phillips started the season on fire, but has cooled off. Antwan Barnes and Melvin Ingram have not lived up to expectations this season and Larry English has been nowhere to be found. Corey Liuget is the Chargers best pass rusher right now, and while that's not a bad thing, others need to improve. 

Get out to an Early Lead

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    Even though the Chargers are a second half team, they need to get out to an early lead. 

    Does anyone appreciate sarcasm at this point? Maybe not.

    The Chargers have scored under ten points combined in three straight second half's, they need to get out to an early lead. Getting out to an early lead is the best thing against the Chiefs as well, forcing them to play from behind and pass the ball. It would eliminate Jamaal Charles' carries early.

Keep That Lead

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    Just keep the lead, please.

Play Ryan Mathews 95% of the Time

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    In each game, Ryan Mathews has proven he's the Chargers' most explosive playmaker.

    He ran the ball 24 times for 95 yards against the Browns, but he didn't have one carry when it really mattered. On the final two-minute drive, Mathews didn't see one snap. Ronnie Brown, who was very effective, played in front of him.

    Even though he fumbled again, Mathews must be in the game almost the entire time. He's the only running back capable of breaking a long run at any time.

FIRE AJ and Norv

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    If Norv Turner is fired, but not A.J. Smith, another "Norv Turner" like coach will be brought in.

    Dean Spanos must fire A.J. Smith as well if he truly cares about this franchise. There is still the slightest bit of hope with the Chargers, but if these two stay in the organization much longer, that hope will be erased.