Chargers Perspective

Chargers Receiver Seyi Ajirotutu hauls in the game-winner, a pass that quarterback Philip Rivers put on the money.

Chargers @ Chiefs

  • After trailing at the half at Kansas City with just 10 points on the scoreboard, quarterback Philip Rivers led the Bolts to 31 points in the second half.
  • The lead changed hands 8 times in the division game shootout.
  • The Chargers scored in every quarter again, increasing by the quarter (3-7-14-17).
  • They played clean football, no turnovers and Rivers only got sacked once.
  • The win snaps a 3-game skid.

The Bolts offensive line kept Rivers clean last Sunday, lighting up the scoreboard.

San Diego Stats

  • Back to the offense that ranks 6th in the NFL, still 2nd in the AFC behind Denver.
  • They are 4th in passing, 3rd on 3rd downs, and have the 2nd most first downs in the league.
  • They have also bumped up to 3rd in time of possession, just behind New Orleans and Carolina.
  • Rivers: He threw for 392 yards against the Chiefs. On the season he has surpassed the 400-yard mark thrice with a couple 300-yard efforts.
  • Running Back Ryan Mathews was having a solid day before pulling his hamstring on his 16th touch of the game. Mathews is a guy with an injury-plagued history, so his touches should be limited. The team was trying to keep him involved after gaining steam, since the offense was getting so many opportunities perhaps Danny Woodhead should have gotten more touches, or maybe insert Ronnie Brown earlier. Some fans were vocal about Brown not gaining any ground in relief. Mathews left running for 3.9 yards per carry, Brown picked up where he left off at 3.8.
  • Wide Receiver Keenan Allen has officially become the go-to guy by moving ahead of tight end Antonio Gates for the team lead in first downs. The rookie has moved the chains 39 times this season. For a team that lost both starting receivers,
  • Second tight end Ladarius Green continues to breakout, he grabbed 3 balls for 80 yards and a score. Whether the team runs more two-tight end sets or splits Green out wide, someone that averages 28 yards per catch needs to be on the field more. Perhaps at the expense of wide receiver Vincent Brown, who hasn’t been the same since his ankle injury, lacking separation and leaping ability.
  • Another player pushing for more snaps is Seyi Ajirotutu. At Miami he hauled in a pair of passes in the final drive of the game, for 38 yards. Last week in Kansas City he caught a 26-yard, game-winning touchdown.
  • Kicker Nick Novak was reliable with a pair of 30-yard field goals, he’s made 22 out of 25 up to this point.
  • Safety Eric Weddle continues to shine on the defense, making six stops and forcing a fumble in the Sea of Red.

Draft Class Impact

  • Talk about this year’s draft class brought in by Tom Telesco. For a team that lost both starting receivers, Denario Alexander and Malcolm Floyd, Allen is a 3rd round pick that looks like a starter for years to come.
  • Offensive Tackle D.J. Fluker is the first round pick known for his run blocking, which has been solid as expected, and he has surprised scouts with his pass blocking so far at right tackle. In the past two weeks, Allen and now Fluker, have shaken off knee injuries to return the next week.
  • Manti Te’o is the 2nd round pick. In the month of November he’s tallied 22 tackles with two passes defensed.

Defense

  • Despite injuries, the last three games Te’o got paired up with Donald Brown in the middle. Brown is coming off a 7-tackle performance with a pass defensed.
  • Jarrett Johnson expects to join them on the field this Sunday against the Bengals. His impact is immediately felt against the run.
  • This is a linebacker core that has already lost Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney to injuries.
  • Some good news: The defense got an interception, courtesy of Marcus Gilchrist, and notched 3 sacks at Arrowhead. Kendall Reyes got to Alex Smith, Thomas Keiser has a sack in consecutive games, and Reggie Walker has gotten to the quarterback in 3 of the last 4 games. Perhaps defensive coordinator John Pagano can shore up this front-7 for a wildcard playoff run.

Chargers, Danny Woodhead and Eric Weddle, celebrate an impressive win in the Sea of Red.

Playoffs

  • In the AFC it appears that the first five teams are set. The seedings are far from decided and the AFC West is out of any realistic reach, and the Chargers will be jockeying for that final playoff spot with nine other teams that are still alive.
  • San Diego is 5-6, along with the Titans, Steelers, Ravens, Jets, and Dolphins.
  • Tennessee plays at Indianapolis. It is a division game, Indy edged them out a couple weeks ago on Thursday Night Football, by a field goal. Receiver Kendall Wright is really coming on for them.
  • The Steelers are streaking, taking three straight wins to Baltimore this Thursday night. Big Ben (Roethlisberger) is rising to the occasion in the midst of rumors about his future with the team. Receiver Antonio Brown is having a Pro Bowl season.
  • Baltimore split games in November (2-2), and the result of their rivalry with Pittsburgh will reshuffle the wildcard picture. The Ravens still have a stout defense but the offense has done very little. Running Back Ray Rice might be aging before our eyes, then again the O-line hasn’t helped the cause. Quarterback Joe Flacco despises playing receiver in the wildcat formation, calling it “high school offense.”
  • The Jets just lost to the Ravens, rookie quarterback Geno Smith is struggling while running back Chris Ivory rolled his ankle. They host the Dolphins in another division game with playoff implications. New York has the defense to stay in games, but only for so long if the offense can’t muster up some touchdowns.
  • Miami is trying to keep things afloat despite turmoil, also splitting games in November. They protected home field against the Bolts a couple weeks ago and gave the Panthers a scare last week. Now they head to the Meadowlands. The battered offensive line gets a boost this Sunday when Mike Pouncey returns to the lineup.
  • The Bolts have a tough matchup as they host the 7-4 Bengals, who are coming off a bye week.
  • Looking ahead they host a winnable game next week against the Giants. Rivers gets to go to battle against Eli Manning.
  • They finish out the year against all division rivals, in this order: at Denver, then closing out the season at home against Oakland and Kansas City.

AFC West (According to Pro Football Focus)

  • Denver Broncos: When quarterback Peyton Manning is under pressure, he averages 8.2 yards per pass attempt which is the best for all quarterbacks with at least 20 attempts under pressure.
  • Kansas City Chiefs: Linebacker Derrick Johnson is the only inside/middle linebacker that ranks in the Top 10 in both Run Stop Percentage at 11.4% and Yards Per Coverage Snap at 0.63.
  • Oakland Raiders: Center Stefen Wisniewski has the second highest Pass Blocking Efficiency for centers at 98.9%. He also has the second highest Run Block Grade for centers at +8.8.
  • San Diego Chargers:  Running back Danny Woodhead’s 2.17 Yards Per Route run this year is the third highest for all backs with at least 200 pass routes in a season over the last four years. He will play on third downs.