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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 1
September 3, 2003
Season Ticket
Thu 9 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
NYJ at WAS DEN at CIN MIN at GB ATL at DAL OAK at TEN
Sun 1 PM HOU at MIA NE at BUF CHI at SF Mon 9 PM
ARZ at DET IND at CLE SD at KC NO at SEA TB at PHI
BAL at PIT JAX at CAR STL at NYG Times EST no byes
   
San Diego vs Kansas City Sun, Sep 7; 1 PM on CBS at Arrowhead Stadium
  San Diego Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 10 0 250,2
RB L. Tomlinson 100,1 40 0
TE Josh Norman 0 20 0
WR David Boston 0 80,1 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 40 0
WR Tim Dwight 0 50,1 0
  Kansas City Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Green 10 0 270,2
RB Priest Holmes 70,1 50 0
TE Tony Gonzalez 0 40 0
WR Johnnie Morton 0 40 0
WR Marc Boerigter 0 60,1 0
WR Eddie Kennison 0 70,1 0

Game Prediction: SD 21, KC 27

The Chargers kickoff their 2003 season with Drew Brees entering his second year as the starter, LaDainian Tomlinson as the consensus best running back in the league and an upgraded set of receivers. Brees needs to improve from his 16 touchdowns last year and the Chargers went out and obtained the hottest free agent receiver in David Boston to help him do just that. The offense under HC Marty Schottenheimer is unlikely to ever lead the league in any passing categories but must improve to win those games that Tomlinson alone cannot.

Boston is a physical monster in size and strength but will have to remain healthy to matter. For a receiver whose diet and exercise regimen borders on fanaticism, his inability to remain 100% is surprising. Then again, nature never intended for fast 245 pound men to constantly run routes over the middle either. Reche Caldwell also starts and allows Tim Dwight to be used more creatively.

Stephen Alexander may have cost the Chargers a bundle two years ago but the payoff has been limited. Alexander has been often injured and missed most of the training camp with an injured groin. Josh Norman will start and Alexander may be sent to a specialist to determine a better course of rehab for his groin. Alexander is the lone injury question mark for this game.

The Chargers are essentially setup for a run heavy, ball-control style of offense but are denied that too often from having one of the worst defenses in the league. The pass defense ranked 30th last season and this year they open with different starters in every spot in the secondary. Rodney Harrison and Junior Seau are now gone and take with them the last vestiges of when the Chargers had a defense to concern opponents. With the young and largely inexperienced crew this season, the plan is to keep the coverages simple. It is probable that the Chargers will improve on defense since they were among the worst but considering the player moves there is no guarantee they will not again disappoint.

The Chiefs were a scoring machine last year with Priest Holmes playing the role of fantasy football deity and the passing offense somehow turning in 26 touchdowns without actually using wide receivers. Trent Green had an inconsistent year but his highs and lows went higher and deeper than most quarterbacks. His inconsistency stemmed largely from relying heavily on Holmes and not making use of the wideouts in a consistent fashion. This season Johnnie Morton is moved back to his natural split end position which should help the 32 year old receiver in what will be his final years. Marc Boerigter turned in an astounding eight touchdowns in only 20 catches in 2002 and will again be the #3 receiver behind Morton and Kennison. If Morton does not show improvement with his production, expect Boerigter's playing time to significantly increase.

Tony Gonzalez enters the season on a scary note, having suffered a knee injury a week ago that caused tiny tears to his ACL. He is expected to play in this game though his role will be less than normal as he heals.

Priest Holmes returns from his hip injury which ended his 2002 season and has shown no adverse effects from the experience. Holmes was carefully used in training camp but has not had any signs of a setback other than his contract dispute which he claimed would keep him out of the regular season until resolved. Holmes has played the media, fans and coaches perfectly in the standoff and the signs have been favorable that no holdout will occur. Holmes is a risk since he turns 30 this year and has recently been absorbing a lot of shots due to his heavy use. He has worked out with the team this week in preparation for the game while talks continue on. It appears very favorable that Holmes will be playing this week and so the projections considers that likely outcome.

The Chiefs were a fantasy delight because they could score so often last season and they had nothing short of a horrendous defense which made them score even more touchdowns to stay in games. Kansas City has made a concerted effort to improve their defense this year that was affectionately termed the "32 Defense" for being the worst in the league. They added LB Shawn Barber and DL Vonnie Holliday. They hope that recent draft picks start to play to form like last season's 6th overall pick of Ryan Sims. There is optimism that they will improve dramatically but they have some things to prove before the unit can be termed even a "16 Defense".

Kansas City gets a nice first game to try that defense out. While Tomlinson shredded them last season, the Chargers will be trying to establish a passing game with Boston for the first time in the regular season and the Chiefs/Chargers games were always nail biters last year. Look for the Chiefs to take a close win here with a better defense and a slightly more cohesive offense. This game could go either way but the home team advantage over a well known adversary will be just enough.

 

Comparative Stats
Starting Week Two

 

Chargers (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 @KC
Week 2 DEN
Week 3 BAL
Week 4 @OAK
Week 5 @JAX
Week 6 BYE
Week 7 @CLE
Week 8 MIA
Week 9 @CHI
Week 10 MIN
Week 11 @DEN
Week 12 CIN
Week 13 KC
Week 14 @DET
Week 15 GB
Week 16 @PIT
Week 17 OAK
Chiefs (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 SD
Week 2 PIT
Week 3 @HOU
Week 4 @BAL
Week 5 DEN
Week 6 @GB
Week 7 @OAK
Week 8 BUF
Week 9 BYE
Week 10 CLE
Week 11 @CIN
Week 12 OAK
Week 13 @SD
Week 14 @DEN
Week 15 DET
Week 16 @MIN
Week 17 CHI
(Statistics are game averages from current season )