Every game is important, no question. If the Chiefs are going to be a team that leaps from the bottom of the NFL to the playoffs then they are going to have to win the games they should win against the perceived lesser teams. Failure to do so will send the Chiefs back into the top 10 of the draft and render the rest of this post useless.
However, if the Chiefs do manage to win the winnable games on the road and take care of business at home then the season is going to come down to two key matchups: home against the Chargers and away against the Chargers.
While the Chiefs and Chargers are coming from two different perspectives with two separate views on their present and future, both teams are staring down a similar journey for 2013. Both, for various reasons, are 8-8 teams with 10-win ceilings and 6-win floors. A key break here for one of these teams, and their season could end with a run in the playoffs. A bad break there, and the season could be over by the end of week eight. There are both teams with a similar fragile state, large looming questions, and the potential to make a lot of noise this season.
And to make things even more even, the Chiefs have an all-time record of 52-52-1 against the Chargers.
Who is making the noise and who is back in the shadows mediocrity will heavily depend on the results of the two matchups against each other.
ROUND 1 – Week 12: Chargers at Chiefs
By the time both of these teams meet for the first time we are going to have a very good idea of what is at stake. Each team will have played 10 games, played their easiest stretch of football, and will be staring down a tough five game road to the end of the season.
In San Diego’s case they will be coming off a week 11 road game against the improved Miami Dolphins, and finishing a stretch of four road games in their last five games with the one home game being against the Denver Broncos. In fact, seven of the first 11 games the Chargers play will be on the road. This is terrible scheduling by the NFL but at least it leaves San Diego with four home games in the final five weeks. For SD, Jackie Battle had a touchdown catch and touchdown run. Philip Rivers passed for only 209 yards and interception, but had two touchdown passes.
LAST GAME @ KC: SD won 37-20. KC committed six turnovers in the game. Matt Cassel passed three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Jamaal Charles rushed for a TD and caught a TD while rushing for 88 yards on 17 attempts. Dwayne Bowe caught 7 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.
LAST 10 @ KC: Each team has won and lost five games.
ROUND 2 – WEEK 17: Chiefs at Chargers
The final game of the season could decide who goes to the playoffs and who does not. By the time this games starts – it is scheduled to kick off at 3:25 – both teams are going to know what they need to advance to the playoffs or even if they can advance. But given the weak state of the AFC and considering both teams should have around eight or nine wins by week 17, which would put them in the playoff hunt.
San Diego will be finishing their four home games in five weeks stretch while Kansas City will be coming off a home game against the Indianapolis Colts.
LAST GAME @ SD: SD won 31-13. Rivers was 18-20 on pass attempts with two touchdowns and an interception (Eric Berry). KC only turned it over four times in this game. Charles had just 12 rushing attempts. Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates each had touchdown catches.
LAST 10 @ SD: The Chargers are 8-2 at home against the Chiefs. KC has lost their last five games at San Diego.
In the games itself will be the quarterback play of Alex Smith – assuming he stays healthy enough to even start those games. The 10 turnovers in the two combined games last season made each of the games seem more lopsided than they really were. With Smith managing the offense the turnovers should see a sharp drop.
Also, KC absolutely has to win the game at home in order to prevent a “must win” situation at San Diego. There were some good teams that went into San Diego and lost, which suggests a lot of good things about the way Rivers and his teammates feel when they play at home. Should KC lose to SD at home then the likelihood the Chargers make the playoffs over the Chiefs increases significantly.