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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 21, 2005
Season Ticket
Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at CIN NYG at WAS TEN at MIA* IND at SEA* Mon 9 PM
DET at NO* SD at KC* CHI at GB Updated* Times ET

Prediction: San Diego 20, Kansas City 27

The Chargers won 28-20 when the Chiefs came to San Diego in week eight. Now that the Broncos have won the AFC West, this game is for a wild card bid and a loss by the Chiefs spells certain disaster and even a Chiefs win does not ensure that they can make the playoffs. The Chargers come off their game of the season when they beat the Colts last week and they need a win here to keep pace with the Steelers for what will likely be the final wild card since the Jaguars seem certain to take the first one. One important stat here - the Chiefs are 5-1 at home this year and the Chargers are coming off a huge, emotional win. Oh yes, and the Chiefs have not lost in Kansas City in December for the past four years.

Update: Eric Parker has returned to practice and reportedly looks good for Saturday. I am including him in the projections now. Eddie Kennison remains listed as questionable but has practiced for the last two days at least to some extent and is now expected to contribute this week though he may be limited.

San Diego Chargers (9-5)
1 24-28 DAL 10 Open Bye
2 17-20 @DEN 11 48-10 BUF
3 45-23 NYG 12 23-17 @WAS
4 41-17 @NE 13 34-10 OAK
5 22-24 PIT 14 21-23 MIA
6 27-14 @OAK 15 26-17 @IND
7 17-20 @PHI 16 Dec 24 @KCC
8 28-20 KCC 17 Dec 31 DEN
9 31-26 @NYJ . MON SAT
SDC at KC Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 290,2
RB L. Tomlinson 60 20 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 80,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 90,1 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 40 0
WR Eric Parker 0 30 0
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Hard to believe that the same team that could not beat the visiting Dolphins is the same team that went to Indianapolis and took down the unbeaten Colts, ruining their perfect season aspirations. Welcome to the NFL.

Quarterback: Drew Brees threw for 324 yards and three scores against the Chiefs in week eight. Since that game he has continued to play well with only one game without a score - at Washington - and three games of multiple touchdowns. Brees threw for 255 yards and one score last week against the Colts.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson did not finish the Colts game due to bruised ribs and Michael Turner was the star when he ran for his 83-yard touchdown to ice the win. Tomlinson ran for 69 yards on 17 carries and added 23 receiving yards against the Chiefs earlier this season. I am assuming that Tomlinson plays this week but will be slightly limited from his ribs.

Wide Receivers: Eric Parker could miss this game with a foot sprain that took him out last week. Parker scored once on his four catches for 63 yards and Keenan McCardell turned in 73 yards on five catches in the previous match-up with the Chiefs. That makes McCardell even more important this week and he'll also have to field punts as well if Parker cannot play. Early reports have Parker as out this week.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates had 10 catches for 145 yards and three scores against Kansas City this season for a season high but only had 29 yards last week.

Match Against the Defense: The Chiefs have been outstanding against the run at Arrowhead this season and no runner has had more than 93 yards with most remaining less than 50 yards. There have been only two rushing scores allowed to opponents this year. Expect a lower game here from Tomlinson that could be even less if his ribs act up.

Where this game must be won is in the air and the Chiefs always allow at least one passing score if not more. Gates has been a monster against them and it is not just him - the Chiefs are typically weak against tight ends. Look for the best action to naturally go to Gates and McCardell who will have to both come up big in this game.

Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)
1 27-7 NYJ 10 3-14 @BUF
2 23-17 @OAK 11 45-17 @HOU
3 10-30 @DEN 12 26-16 NE
4 31-37 PHI 13 31-27 DEN
5 Open Bye 14 28-31 @DAL
6 28-21 WAS 15 17-27 @NYG
7 30-20 @MIA 16 Dec 24 SDC
8 20-28 @SDC 17 Jan 1 CIN
9 27-23 OAK . MON SAT
KCC vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Green 0 0 220,1
RB Larry Johnson 110,2 20 0
TE Tony Gonzalez 0 50 0
WR Samie Parker 0 40,1 0
WR Chris Horn 0 40 0
WR Eddie Kennison 0 50 0
PK Lawrence Tynes 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Chiefs offense has been very good, but on the road it has struggled to be quite as good as the opponents. The Chiefs have never scored less than 26 points in a home game this year and this match-up will be like a super bowl for them - it will be as close as they come to one anyway.

Quarterback: Trent Green threw for 347 yards and two scores against the Chargers earlier this year. He faltered last week in New York when he only had 176 yards and no scores in his worst showing of the year but that came after three straight 250+ yard games - two of them at home.

Running Backs: Larry Johnson not only has topped 100 yards in each of his seven starts this season, he appears to be getting stronger as the season progresses. He has scored ten times in the last five games and only once had to settle for merely one touchdown. For the second half of the NFL season, no other runner can come close to the 1019 rushing yards by Johnson in the last seven games. And yes, that is a pace that would result in an NFL record 2329 yards.

This was the final game for Holmes and he gained just 38 yards on 14 runs while Larry Johnson totaled 55 yards on just six carries.

Wide Receivers: Though Larry Johnson has been shredding defenses this season, Eddie Kennison has retained his fantasy value in most games until last week. One caveat here - most of his good games and four of his five touchdowns this year have been on the road. Back at home, the running of Johnson has made Kennison less important. Samie Parker comes off a career best game of 87 yards but he's only scored twice this season and typically offers a 50 yard, possession type of role.

Kennison had seven catches for 115 yards and one score against the Chargers this year but left the game last week on crutches. He apparently has a sprained MCL and until he is cleared for the game, I am assuming that he does not play.

Tight Ends: Like Kennison, Tony Gonzalez has been generally more productive on the road. He only has two games over 50 yards while at Arrowhead this year. He only has two scores this season anyway. Gonzalez had seven catches for 97 yards and one score in San Diego this season. His other touchdown came in week 13 when the Broncos visited on his only catch in that game.

Match Against the Defense: The Chiefs at home are always better and in December have been unbeatable for years. Unlike the first match-up in San Diego, Larry Johnson is the primary runner now and has never looked more formidable. Expect a big game here because as far as we know, he is incapable of not having one. The Chargers have not allowed a 100 yard rusher this season though several have been close. In the road, the Chargers have allowed six of their nine rushing scores this season.

Green has already had a big game against this secondary but a better running game this time should spell less need for him to throw. Look for moderate to good numbers here with one passing score that favors Kennison slightly over Gonzalez.