Halftime Digest: Chiefs halfway to AFC West title

The Kansas City Chiefs need to hit the daily double to win the AFC West title and earn the No. 2 seed and a bye week in the playoffs, and so far everything is going according to plan.

The Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers line up during the first half of their game at Qualcomm Stadium, Jan. 1, 2017. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

The Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers line up during the first half of their game at Qualcomm Stadium, Jan. 1, 2017. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

The Chiefs used a touchdown run from Alex Smith and a pass from Smith to running back Charcandrick West in building a 20-10 halftime lead against the San Diego Chargers. The Denver Broncos, meanwhile, hold a 17-0 lead on the Oakland Raiders.

The Chiefs must beat the Chargers and rely on a Broncos win over the Raiders to clinch the AFC West title. That brings with it the No. 2 seed in the AFC, a bye week and a home playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium in two weeks.

Otherwise, the Chiefs find themselves as the No. 5 seed on their way to Houston for a playoff rematch against the Texans next weekend.

Smith earned first-half MVP honors for the Chiefs, completing 11 of 15 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown for a sizzling 134.3 passer rating. Smith also added a touchdown and 17 yards rushing on three carries.

Charcandrick West leads the team in both rushing and passing with eight carries for 33 yards and four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Cornerback Marcus Peters and safety Dan Sorensen both picked up interceptions to stop potential scoring drives for the Chargers.

Keys to the second half for the Chiefs:

Find the running game

Spencer Ware sat out today’s game resting his bruised ribs, which leaves West and Knile Davis leading the rushing attack. West proved a major asset in the first half in the passing game. But outside Smith’s three carries for 17 yards, the Chiefs have 10 carries for just 30 yards. A ground game is critical to running the clock and keep the Chargers offense off the field.

Get Kelce and Hill involved

Hard to believe the Chiefs built a 20-10 lead with very little contribution from tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Kelce and Hill have one catch each for a total of 14 yards combined. Hill also has a rush for a 2-yard loss. Hill has been absent from the passing offensive for three-straight games now. Kelce is as critical as the run game in keeping the chains moving in the second half.

More pressure on Rivers

The Chiefs have just a single quarterback hurry against Philip Rivers, but have held the Chargers quarterback to 12-of-19 passing for 122 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for a rating of just 59.4. The Chiefs forced a turnover on a bad pass from Rivers thanks to pressure from a blitz. Rivers is the best weapon the Chargers have left with all the injuries the team has sustained. Keeping him check limits what the Chargers can do.

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and the Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.


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