This is a must-win game for two teams looking to keep their seasons going into 2015.
For the San Diego Chargers (9-6) it’s win and in. The Kansas City Chiefs (8-7) need to win and have the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans lose to lock up the second AFC wildcard spot.
While the Chiefs have a bigger hill to climb to make the post season, the Chargers are heading into the game with a battered Philip Rivers. Kansas City, on the other hand, will be playing without Alex Smith, who has a lacerated spleen. Chase Daniel will make his second career start in Smith’s place.
While Kansas City has a slim chance at continuing its season, it might be able end San Diego’s.
Chargers vs. Chiefs
Sunday, 1 p.m. Eastern
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
Chiefs by 3
Chiefs 23, Chargers 20 on Oct. 19 in San Diego
Scouting San Diego
The San Diego Chargers may have put a together a season good enough to last into next year, but that all depends on the final game of the season. Currently the sixth seed in the AFC, they need a win against divisional rival Kansas City to lock up the second wildcard spot.
While the team has so much to play for, they also have a lot working against them.
Quarterback Philip Rivers is playing with a bulging disk in his back as well as a possible rib injury. Rivers has been playing with the back injury for about a month, and there is a possibility of offseason surgery being required. The possible rib aliment did keep Rivers limited in practice before last week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, but he was able to play in that game and found a way to win it in overtime.
They also lost to the Chiefs, at home, earlier this season. In that game, a healthy Rivers passed for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
Scouting Kansas City
The Kansas City Chiefs announced Friday that quarterback Alex Smith will miss the season finale due to a lacerated spleen.
— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) December 26, 2014
Back up Chase Daniel will make his second career start in the game. Last year, he made the first of his career — a Week 17 loss to the Chargers. Smith, along with most of the starters, sat out that game to rest after the Chiefs had already clinched a playoff spot.
Due to this change, it should be expected that running back Jamaal Charles will carry a heavier load to help ease some of the offensive pressure. With just under 1,000 rushing yards on the season, Charles has scored a total of 14 touchdowns. He has fumbled five times this season, losing only three of them. He will have to be sure handed if in this game if the team hopes to use him to have a chance at continuing the season.
Chargers 14, Chiefs 10
While both of these teams are dealing with quarterback issues, the Chargers have had more going for them all season. Plus, we watched what Rivers did last week with the same back and rib injuries. The Chargers are coming in hot, and Chase Daniel hasn’t even had a chance to warm up.
Jamaal Charles may be able to help the Chiefs case, but it Rivers can find a way to get a little bit of an edge against Kansas City’s defense, there’s no way to imagine them not punching their ticket to the post season.