The Kansas City Chiefs host the San Diego Chargers in the 2016 season opener. To help get some inside looks, I talked with Travis Wakeman from Bolt Beat, the San Diego Chargers site on our FanSided network.
The Kansas City Chiefs open the 2016 season at home in Arrowhead Stadium this week. Our first victim? The San Diego Chargers. Yes, the Chiefs kick off the season with division action against the team expected to finish last in the AFC West. To help get some inside information on KC’s first opponent, I reached out to Travis Wakeman who covers the Chargers for Bolt Beat on the FanSided Network.
In recent years, the Chiefs have had the Chargers number. That was especially true in 2015 when KC held San Diego to a total of 6 points in two games. The Chiefs defense was incredibly lights out in both contests, holding the Chargers to under 300 yards in both games and racking up eight sacks.
The Chiefs defense may not be as dominant as they were last year, but I am still expecting a strong showing. The Chargers also have some added weapons this time around. Again though, I don’t see San Diego getting the best of our defensive unit. Plus, the Chiefs look much improved on the other side of the ball.
For some further perspective, I asked Travis about some key areas for Sunday’s game. To see my answers about the Chiefs, just click the banner.
Ben Almquist: Spencer Ware looks to get the start at RB for the Chiefs this week. Last year he went 11 carries for 96 yards and 2 TDs, and 8 carries for 52 yards against the Chargers. Will SD be able to stop him this year?
Travis Wakeman: “Yes, I remember him running all over the Chargers, particularly in the game in San Diego. I do think the Chargers will have more success in containing him this time around for one reason…. Brandon Mebane. Mebane should be able to do his job and take on double teams at the point of attack, allowing Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman to come up and make plays in the running game. That is an element the team simply didn’t have last year. I still think Ware will get his yards, just not as many at a time.”
BA: The Chargers lost Eric Weddle to Free Agency this year. Without him patrolling the deep middle, how will the Chargers look to contain Travis Kelce?
TW: “Good question, as this is probably the biggest concern on the squad. Dwight Lowery was brought in through free agency to replace Weddle, so it will be a combination of he and Jahleel Addae who will be charged with containing the big Chiefs tight end. Whether they’ll be able to do it or not is another question, but Casey Hayward and Brandon Flowers, who looks to be a better player now than he was all of 2015, should help an improved secondary.”
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BA: The Chiefs sacked Philip Rivers 8 times in 2 games last year. Will the Chargers be able to keep their quarterback upright this time around?
TW: “That will be a challenge, particularly because several different players sacked Rivers and none of them were named Justin Houston. While Houston won’t play in this game, the Chiefs still have players that can get to the quarterback. At the same time, it’s no secret how banged up the Chargers’ offensive line was last season, particularly at the stage of the season when these two teams played. Matt Slauson is a big upgrade over Chris Watt at center and D.J. Fluker and Orlando Franklin are both healthy. I wouldn’t expect the offensive line to pitch a shutout but Rivers will only be sacked once or twice.”
BA: Is there someone on this Chargers roster that Chiefs fans might not know but should be aware of?
TW: “Dexter McCoil. A former CFL player, he is big enough to play linebacker and quick enough to line up at safety. He was a fringe player to make the roster when camp opened but quickly impressed the coaching staff and made it impossible to cut him. He could be a weapon the team uses against Kelce in this one as well.”
BA: Ok, who are you taking this week?
TW: “As much as I want to say the Chargers have completely recovered from last season’s horrific 4-12 record and will beat the Chiefs on the road, it’s not going to happen. I do think we see a competitive game, but the Chiefs are one of the more underrated teams in the league in my eyes and I feel that with home-field advantage and a balanced attack, the Chiefs pull it out in the end. Moral victory for the Chargers, if you believe in such a thing, as they show improvement in several areas. Chiefs 20, Chargers 14.“
A big thanks to Travis Wakeman for agreeing to talk with me. It is the start of a new season, and everyone’s optimism is up. Travis brings up some great points about why the Chargers should be improved this year. However, I am not sure it will be much of an improvement. The biggest addition to San Diego is the return of Keenan Allen. However, even when Allen was healthy last year, the Chargers were still only 2-6. Kansas City needs a big win to start the season, and I think they get it.