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San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs Preview and Pick


San Diego Chargers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS), 10:20 p.m. EST, NFL Week One, Monday, September 13, 2010, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
By Scotty L of

Point Spread: SD –5/KC +5
Over/Under: 44.5

Week one features an AFC West matchup with old rivals San Diego Chargers visiting the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. The Chargers look to continue their excellent run in the regular season with their 12th straight win. Using the “watched water never boils” theory, maybe the lack of Super Bowl expectations will give way to a better Chargers postseason this season. The Chiefs look to rebound from an awful run that has seen them notch a measly 10 wins over the past 3 seasons.

While the Chargers do not have an infinite window in which to do great things, they still appear to be in that range. The postseason collapses notwithstanding, they have been one of the better teams in the AFC for a while now. Philip Rivers has blossomed into a big-time QB boasting of a lethal, multi-dimensional offense. Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates are a pair of 1000-yard catchers who should have productive seasons again, assuming that Jackson ends up returning to the team. Either way, he will miss this game due to a suspension, but Malcolm Floyd is coming up too and he has the same huge size as Jackson, giving the Chargers a lot of options in the air.

With rookie Ryan Mathews expected to a get a bulk of the carries, we’ll have to see how he good he is. Considering the Chargers managed a potent offense during a drop in Tomlinson’s form, the rushing game shouldn’t be a problem—at least not a big enough one to affect the overall potency of this offense. Darren Sproles is still there to provide a boost from the backfield and on returns.

Under Ron Rivera, the Chargers defense came around, especially considering their horrid pass defense in the 2008 season. The pass rush and overall menace of Shaun Phillips anchors a linebacking crew that would only become better if Shawne Merriman rediscovers the form that made him a premier pass rusher before injuries diminished his form. A stellar linebacking crew with good depth can make up for a D-line that while strong at the top, is not very deep. Look for the secondary to continue making strides with veteran Quentin Jammer heading up a strong crew. Losing Cromartie might actually help. First-rounder Antoine Cason needs to continue developing and maybe some of the veterans acquired during the offseason can step up.

The Chiefs have some upside that could see them actually put up some W’s this year. If some things click into place, this is a team that can cover a lot of spreads this season. Charlie Weis figures to help, as his record as an offensive coordinator speaks for itself. Maybe he can help big-money QB Matt Cassel get the poison out this season. After distracting Larry Johnson was released midway through last season, Jamaal Charles really stepped up, almost putting together a 1000-yard season in limited time with almost 6 yards per carry. With 1000-yard rusher Thomas Jones coming from the Jets, the Chiefs should have a bang-‘em-up backfield. The ball catchers need to step up if they hope to distinguish themselves, particularly Dwayne Bowe—who needs to start living up to his billing.

Romeo Crennel takes over a defense that finished 30th last season. His leadership figures to help, but this squad should still experience its share of growing pains. They will need to improve their pass rush and stop the run more effectively to get out of the cellar of the AFC West this season and that secondary cannot afford another underachieving year of disappointment. If this defense starts performing, the Chiefs can surprise some people this season.

The Chargers crushed the Chiefs by 30 at Arrowhead last season. That probably won’t happen again, but the Chargers should be in command of this game. Being the first game of the season, the technical offense of San Diego might not be in full-flight, but Kansas City figures to struggle putting pressure on an offense that can get clicking quickly.

Scotty L’s Pick to Cover the Spread: The Chiefs play hard for coach Todd Haley. The Kansas City fans are faithful and will be going nuts, always hopeful for a big season despite what is on paper. Their offense, honed during the offseason by Weis, will be better and that running back tandem of Charles and Jones should help keep the chains moving.

The defense will let them down in the end, as the Chargers offense gains increasing foothold as the game moves into the second half. A reasonably close game breaks open a bit late, as the Chargers put up a couple late touchdowns to cover the spread with ease. Take the Chargers minus the 5 points.

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