The Kansas City Chiefs travel to Qualcomm Stadium for the NFL's Week 9 Thursday Night Football matchup with the San Diego Chargers. The fact that these two teams enter this contest having lost a combined seven games will either result in a night of uninspiring football or give those watching an unexpected show.
The Chiefs' season is all but lost at this point. An injury-fueled quarterback controversy is all you need to know about the current direction of this team.
While Kansas City may be one year late to the Andrew Luck-Robert Griffin III sweepstakes, it is imperative the franchise rid itself of its apprehension to draft a quarterback in the first round.
Who that signal-caller is at this point is irrelevant, to a degree. Chiefs' fans need change and deserve someone to call their own, as every other organization has done over the years.
The Chargers are arguably the most Jekyll-and-Hyde franchise in the history of the NFL—at least over the last decade or so.
San Diego has benefited greatly from a second-rate division. But since 2010, the Chargers have done nothing but add to the mediocrity of the AFC West.
When the NFL put out its schedule back in April, this game had the look of one that could have playoff implications. Now, just past the season's midway point, it has the look of another prime-time dud.
Here is one bold prediction for each team, along with fantasy football "beast or bust" candidates in Thursday's matchup:
Matt Cassel Throws for 300 Yards and 3 Touchdowns
With Brady Quinn now out due to a concussion, Cassel re-enters as the Chiefs' starting quarterback—at least for Thursday night's game with the Chargers.
San Diego ranks 21st in the NFL, allowing 246.6 yards through the air per game. Even if Cassel isn't forced to play from behind, the quarterback should be able to exploit a porous pass defense.
However, the Chargers should control this game from the start. This will force the Chiefs away from the run and give Cassel plenty of opportunities to connect with his targets.
The quarterback could tally some serious garbage-time stats.
Chargers Rush for 175 Yards and 2 Touchdowns
Who wins this game?
While the Chargers haven't committed much to the run this season—ranked 20th, averaging 103.4 yards per game—Norv Turner would do well to pound the ball against a reeling Chiefs defense on Thursday night.
Kansas City was able to limit San Diego to 104 rushing yards in Week 4's 37-20 loss—but it wasn't for a lack of trying on the Chargers part, tallying 34 rushes in that game.
Since then, the Chiefs have given up 413 rushing yards in just three games.
If the Chargers can control the game for most of the night, look for the offense to limit quarterback Philip Rivers' chances at making mistakes. Ryan Mathews and Co. could benefit in a huge way.
The Chargers, while not having much success on the ground so far this season, seem committed to a healthy Mathews as their No. 1 option out of the backfield. The running back has tallied 58 of the team's last 79 rushing attempts, dating back to their 31-24 Week 5 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Mathews should be in a similar position to gash Kansas City's defense on Thursday night. Though his 4.3 yards per carry in that same span isn't what you would consider elite, the Chiefs are giving up 4.6 yards per carry, so a couple of nice runs isn't out of the question.
The Chargers will want to put last week's embarrassing 7-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns in the rear-view mirror, so look for a more aggressive game plan to get out to an early lead on the Chiefs.
If that happens, Mathews' prospects of a big game increase.
How many rushing yards will Jamaal Charles finish the game with?
As good of a game that Mathews is set up to have for the Chargers, Jamaal Charles could be in for another disappointing performance on Thursday night.
Over his last two games, Charles has only tallied 44 yards on 17 carries. Though the Chiefs have been forced to ditch the run early in each of those contests, that is certainly not a recipe for success for this team—especially with a talent like Charles in the backfield.
San Diego will also look to get out to an early lead against Kansas City in this matchup—not to mention the Chargers are ranked second in the NFL, allowing only 80 yards per game on the ground.
Unless the Chiefs can keep the score relatively close, look for much of the same out of Charles on Thursday night.