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Intriguing Game- Week 15

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

Chargers– It’s incredible to think where this football team was at the beginning of the season. There’s a new head coach in Anthony Lynn, the teams loses their first four games of the season and usually when that terrible beginning of losing a few games to open a season happens, teams don’t usually bounce back, but they did and here they are sitting at 7-6 and in a really good position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and ironically, that was also with a first-year head coach in Mike McCoy. A few weeks ago, I was asked about some dark horse teams in the AFC that can give the elite teams in the conference some trouble. Jacksonville was the first I said, followed by Baltimore and then, I said these Los Angeles Chargers. My reasons were they have an experienced quarterback in Philip Rivers who’s still playing at a really high level as we speak, they can run the football and balance things out offensively, the receivers are playing really well especially Keenan Allen who’s had issues with injuries over the years and he’s been consistent for them. He made history when he became the first player in NFL history to record ten catches, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in three straight games. This team has also played some good defense and they have the top tandem of pass rushers in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. When you think about having to find a way to neutralize one of them, you also have the task of trying to make the other a non-factor and keep him out of your backfield. As a defense, they do all of the small things the right way. They tackle, they can defend the pass down the field, they can get turnovers and they get off the field. I could see them going into Foxboro and really giving the Patriots a tough time because they have the defensive front and formula to pressure Tom. This is a huge game for them on Saturday night when they travel to Arrowhead to face Kansas City.

Chiefs– I’ve been absolutely stunned with them this year. As everyone else was, I was also singing their praises with how hot of a start they got off to at the beginning of the season and how they really made the New England Patriots look bad to open things up. A 5-0 start and people were calling them the class of the AFC which I thought was stretching things a bit. In their last seven games, the Chiefs have a record of 2-5. They lost some tough games which should’ve been victories. They couldn’t find the end zone when they played the Giants and fell to them in overtime, they struggled to get anything going against the Bills and scored only ten points and they actually looked better as an offense when they played the Jets, but their defense collapsed at the end. Last week against the Raiders, it was an important game and for the first time since October, they played with a strong sense of urgency and finally decided to show up and play with some effort and heart. When they were winning early on, they made sure that Kareem Hunt was getting his touches and they finally got back to establishing him. You want the football in the hands of a playmaker and he makes things happen. Alex Smith took care of the ball and you finally saw the aggression on the offensive side of the ball with them throwing the deep pass. Their defense finally stepped up and played well and this was just a good all-around team win and a big win because had they lost that one, they’d be out the playoff picture, out of first place and Oakland would’ve owned tiebreakers in both meetings. The Chiefs should have this division wrapped up as of now, but they don’t and it’s come down to this game on Saturday night.

Chargers Player To Watch: Corey Liuget– This Charger defensive line is a solid one all across the front four. We all know about Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa of course and Brandon Mebane from his time with the Seattle Seahawks. Corey Liguet is a six-foot-two, 300-pound defensive tackle that never gives up on the play. Nowadays, you’re seeing more of a pass rush coming from the inside of the defensive line. He can also stop the run and he’ll be needed to help shut the run down and keep Alex Smith in the pocket.

Chiefs Player To Watch: Demetrius Harris– Travis Kelce is the Chiefs best offensive player and he’s become one of the best tight ends in the NFL. They also have another serviceable tight end in Harris here and he’s usually targeted on third down situations. If I’m Kansas City, I’m mixing things up offensively and not making it look so obvious as to who’s getting the football.

Final Analysis: It has come down to this. I never imagined that the Chargers would be in this position for the division title. What a turnaround it has been. At one time, the Chiefs were in first place and the Chargers were at the bottom of the division and winless at that. Alex Smith has thrown five interceptions in his last five games. I’ll be watching the Kansas City offensive line which is one of the best against the Chargers defense which is tied for fifth with 37 sacks. This will definitely be something to watch the entire game. Can the Chiefs defense play like they did last week? They finally cut back on the penalties and made stops.

Prediction: Chargers 23 Chiefs 21