This week's edition of Thursday Night Football pits two of the AFC West's struggling teams against each other as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers come into tonight's matchup in significantly better shape at 3-4 than the Chiefs, who are currently 1-6. Both teams, however, come in riding losing streaks. The Chargers are trying to end a three-game skid; the Chiefs, a four-game skid.
In a game that has been dubbed the "Desperation Bowl" by some, both teams need a win, and each needs one badly.
Kansas City has struggled all season to protect the ball and to get its offense to perform. At this point, the Chiefs have turned the ball over a league-high 25 times. The quarterback position has been one of the biggest struggles for the Chiefs this season as a controversy emerged concerning Brady Quinn before injuries pushed the controversy to the back burner. As soon as Quinn is cleared, expect that controversy to reemerge.
For the Chargers, all-around offensive production has been the problem as they have yet to score a touchdown in their last six quarters of play. A lack of weapons in San Diego is far from the problem because the Chargers roster stacked with talent; rather, the team has been inconsistent, which has limited the Chargers' success so far this season.
With both teams needing big games from their top players in order to turn their seasons around, Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, and Philip Rivers all need to have big games for their respective teams tonight.
To say the Kansas City quarterback has struggled so far this season would be to make an understatement.
With his job on the line, the Chiefs signal-caller has been less than ordinary, which led to Brady Quinn taking over the starting job in K.C. last week before being knocked out of the game with a concussion. Before the game against the Raiders, Quinn looked poised to start for at least a few games, but injuries gave Cassel another chance.
With Brady Quinn not cleared to play in tonight's game against the Chargers, Matt Cassel will have one last chance to prove that he is a starting quarterback. He will need to have a nearly perfect game tonight if he wants to prove to the coaching staff that he—not Quinn—can be the Chiefs' man of the future.
Cassel will need to play unlike he has played since arriving in K.C. tonight if he wants to a) win, and b) keep his starting job.
Once thought to be an NFL stud, Jamaal Charles has largely turned out to be a bust this season for the Chiefs. Much of Charles' slump can be credited to head coach Romeo Crennel's not using Charles, but at the same time, blame must be attributed to Charles as well.
Charles, who had 17 carries in September when the two teams met, has struggled to run consistently this year. Once again, some of that blame should go to Crennel, but Charles needs to do something to make himself stand out. Tonight, as he takes on a Chargers defense that is allowing a 3.6 yard per carry average, Charles needs to make a statement.
Whether he is given 20 carries or six, a big game is needed to bust Charles out of the slump he has been in lately. With only two touchdowns in seven games the Chiefs need Charles to do something special tonight to get them back on track.
Rivers has been known to go through slumps during his career, but this season, his slumps have become more apparent. He had a great interception-to-touchdown ratio during his first few seasons, but his numbers during the last two seasons have not reflected that.
With the lack of a dominant—or even strong—running game in San Diego, it is Rivers' responsibility to carry the team until a running game emerges.
Rivers needs to step up his play tonight.
Statistically speaking, Rivers has struggled since the start of last season, and this year, what he is doing is not nearly enough. As the leader of an offense that has not scored a touchdown in six quarters, Rivers should be helping the Chargers bounce back.
Most hope that Rivers can find a way to regain his Pro Bowl form from a few seasons ago. If Rivers finds that form, the Chargers could become a dangerous team in a weak division.