KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs face a daunting task Sunday against arguably one of the hottest quarterback in the NFL.
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has topped 300 yards passing in two of the past three games. Rivers also has 15 touchdown passes against two interceptions on the season while leading his team on a five-game winning streak.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton knows his players won’t have it easy Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, a venue where the Chargers have won six straight against the Chiefs since 2008.
“He keeps the chains moving,” Sutton said Thursday of Rivers. “He doesn’t get negative yards very often. That’s the real issue, the guy can make any throw, he’s got a strong arm. He has a little bit of an unorthodox motion. But oh my gosh, the last two seasons he’s been as accurate as anybody in the NFL.”
Of course, something will have to give when the Chiefs put its seventh-ranked pass defense (214.4 yards allowed per game) against the Chargers’ sixth-ranked passing offense (285.5 yards per game).
And part of the challenge for the Chiefs is maintaining discipline while accounting for all the receivers, as the Chargers utilize a variety of routes on offense.
The Chiefs also want to ensure to wrap up the receivers to prevent yards after the catch.
“It’s going to take all 11 guys,” Sutton said. “Part of it is when a guy is throwing the routes that he’s throwing, a lot of them are underneath routes, we’re going to have to do a great job tackling.”
The Chiefs defense have clamped down on the big plays down the field that plagued the secondary in 2013, and Rivers played a role in those statistics with a 392-yard effort in Week 12.
Kansas City has allowed 11 plays of 20-plus yards on the season, a cause for optimism against Rivers when considering the Chiefs have already faced Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Defensive back Ron Parker believes a big part of containing Rivers is getting him off the field whenever the Chiefs have an opportunity to shut the door.
“The key is getting him off the field on third downs and making early stops on first downs,” Parker said. “That’s the key to Philip Rivers. If you get him going – like you see he’s having a good season – he can get going and do some good stuff. Just getting him off the field on third down would be a big key for us because it slows him down, gives our offense the ball, and let him go to the sidelines and think.”
Inside linebacker James-Michael Johnson looks forward to the test.
“They kind of have one of the best passing games in the league right now,” Johnson said. “Philip is playing really good, probably playing as good as he has in a while, so it’s a good opportunity.”
The Kansas City Royals’ pennant-clinching game Wednesday night and magical 8-0 run through the postseason hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Chiefs just because it’s football season.
“I’m not really a huge baseball fan,” defensive coordinator Bob Sutton admitted. “But if you don’t get into this, you better go see if it’s (pointing to his heart) working right, know what I mean? They’ve done a great thing.”
Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said what the Royals have done is great for Kansas City and the baseball team.
Pederson adds the Chiefs watch the Royals on TV whenever the opportunity presents itself, such as Wednesday night.
“We were sitting up here as a staff watching the end of that game and kind of put football on hold for a second just to see the end of the game,” Pederson said. “So we’re excited for them and wish them the best of luck.”
The World Series starts Tuesday, Oct. 21 at Kauffman Stadium where the Royals will host Game 1 and Game 2.