Week 17 Preview: Chiefs @ Chargers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Don’t expect a repeat of Week 12’s 41-38 shootout for Sunday’s rematch.

This week’s Chiefs lineup against the San Diego Chargers could sport a different look throughout the game, as Andy Reid hinted earlier in the week.

Nov 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid watches play during the first half of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chargers won 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid watches play during the first half of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chargers won 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

“I’ll figure out by the end of the week exactly how I’m going to work it, but they’re all going to practice,” Reid said of potentially resting players during Monday’s media session. “They’re all going to do their thing.

“Every position is going to do their thing. Then, we’ll just kind of break it up and, you know, mix and match.”

Then again, whether there’s a “mix and match” remains to be seen.

“We kept the same practice schedule that we have,” Reid said during his opening remarks of Friday’s media session. “And everybody practiced and is getting themselves ready to play against a good Chargers football team.”

When asked by Randy Covitz of The Kansas City Star the team’s plan to distribute playing time among players and backups, Reid was noncommittal on resting players before kickoff.

Instead, Reid indicated the team is prepared to play like they’ve done the entire season.

“We’re going to play, that’s what we’re going to do,” Reid said. “We’re coming to play.”

Still, whatever happens Sunday against the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium, the entire team – from starters to backups – will be ready when the game arrives.

“If I have a change, everybody got themselves ready to work,” Reid continued. “I’ll make that decision when we get there. Right now, everybody practiced and ready to play.”

Tale of the tape

Offense

• The Chiefs rank ninth in rushing (127.5 yards per game) and 23rd in passing (210.1 yards per game).
• The Chargers rank 13th in rushing (118.6 yards per game) and fourth in passing (273.9 yards per game).

Defense

• The Chiefs rank 21st against the run (115.8 yards allowed per game) and are tied at 23rd against the pass (249.5 yards allowed per game).
• The Chargers rank 10th against the run (105.5 yards allowed per game) and 29th against the pass (263.3 yards allowed per game).

The last time

The Chargers defeated the Chiefs 41-38 at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 12.

The season finale is the 108th meeting between the two clubs, and the only team the Chiefs have faced more are the Oakland Raiders (109).

The Chargers hold a 54-52-1 record in the all-time series, including winning eight of the last 10 games.

On the road against the Chargers, the Chiefs are 21-30-1.

Knocking off rust

The Chiefs will have a pair of starters, outside linebacker Justin Houston (elbow, probable) and left tackle Branden Albert (knee, probable), for the playoffs.

Both are back to full practices, but there are apparently differing philosophies whether they should play Sunday before the playoffs.

Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton didn’t appear too concerned about getting Houston, a third-year pro, some snaps.

“I think it would be great if he could, but I wouldn’t lose a lot of sleep if he didn’t,” Sutton said. “He is a veteran player and has played a lot of snaps so I don’t see it as a huge thing.”

However, Sutton’s stance may not apply on the other side of the ball, where offensive coordinator Doug Pederson expressed the importance of getting Albert, a sixth-year pro, on the field.

“He’s a guy that needs to get on the field and he needs to play,” Pederson said. “He’s had a couple of weeks now where he’s rested that injury. He’s one of those guys that needs to get out and play.”

Houston has missed four straight games, while Albert has missed three straight games.

The Chiefs have used linebacker Frank Zombo in Houston’s place and offensive lineman Donald Stephenson in Albert’s spot.

Plan B galore

On the injury front, Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (concussion) and linebacker Tamba Hali (knee) are out for Sunday’s game.

The Chiefs will likely go with wide receiver Junior Hemingway in Bowe’s spot, while linebacker Frank Zombo will shift from the left side to the right side given the anticipated return of Justin Houston.

Still, at some point during the game, the Chiefs could experience numerous lineup changes if coach Andy Reid decides to pull starters ahead of next week’s playoff game.

It wouldn’t surprise to see backup quarterback Chase Daniel filling in for starter Alex Smith or rookie running back Knile Davis in for Jamaal Charles.

Moreover, there could be adjustments on defense with younger players such as rookie defensive end Mike Catapano having more action.

“We’re all going to be ready to play on all cylinders, whether it be starting, filling in on special teams or a situational guy,” Catapano told reporters during Thursday’s locker room media session. “You have to be ready to go when your number is called.”

Quotable

Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson responding to a reporter’s question as to who is taking the practice snaps Thursday:

“You,” Pederson said.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid when asked about his success this season winning the replay challenge to the ruling on the field (7-of-8 ruled in Reid’s favor):

“I appreciate the cookie there,” Reid said with a grin.

Former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Chad Lewis, a two-time Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro under Andy Reid in Philadelphia, on Reid’s primary vision when it comes to resting players:

“Winning the Super Bowl,” Lewis said in a phone interview.

Prediction

After starting the season 9-0, the Chiefs have gone 2-4 and could possibly end the season on a two-game losing streak before the playoffs.

But if the final regular season game results in a loss, it won’t be because the Chiefs normal starting lineup didn’t give their all.

Week 17 has almost a preseason feel to it considering the uncertainty surrounding who actually plays.

And if the regular starters are in the lineup, how much action do they receive?

The Chiefs are locked in at the No. 5 playoff seed and can’t improve that spot, so there’s zero incentive to risk player injury in what amounts to a meaningless game.

Additionally, the Chargers will know by kickoff if they still have a shot at the playoffs – depending what happens with the Baltimore Ravens and the Miami Dolphins in the early games – so they also may not have anything to play for.

In a potential game of backups or starters seeing limited to no action, it’s anybody’s game.

Outcome: Pick ém.

——-

Friday’s official NFL Injury Report, as released by the league:

Kansas City Chiefs

Out: WR Dwayne Bowe (concussion), LB Tamba Hali (knee)
Probable: T Branden Albert (knee), T Eric Fisher (shoulder), LB Justin Houston (elbow), LB James-Michael Johnson (shoulder), CB Ron Parker (ankle, shoulder), T Donald Stephenson (knee), K Ryan Succop (right groin)

Practice Report

Did not practice

Wednesday: LB Tamba Hali (knee)
Thursday: WR Dwayne Bowe (concussion), LB Tamba Hali (knee)
Friday: WR Dwayne Bowe (concussion), LB Tamba Hali (knee)

Limited participation

Friday:

Full participation

Wednesday: T Branden Albert (knee), T Eric Fisher (shoulder), LB Justin Houston (elbow), LB James-Michael Johnson (shoulder), CB Ron Parker (ankle, shoulder), T Donald Stephenson (knee), K Ryan Succop (right groin)
Thursday: T Branden Albert (knee), T Eric Fisher (shoulder), LB Justin Houston (elbow), LB James-Michael Johnson (shoulder), CB Ron Parker (ankle, shoulder), T Donald Stephenson (knee), K Ryan Succop (right groin)
Friday: T Branden Albert (knee), T Eric Fisher (shoulder), LB Justin Houston (elbow), LB James-Michael Johnson (shoulder), CB Ron Parker (ankle, shoulder), T Donald Stephenson (knee), K Ryan Succop (right groin)

San Diego Chargers

Questionable: WR Eddie Royal (toe)
Probable: G Jeromey Clary (hand), LB Thomas Keiser (elbow), DE Sean Lissemore (shoulder), RB Ryan Mathews (ankle), CB Shareece Wright (foot)

Practice Report

Did not practice

Wednesday: RB Ryan Mathews (ankle), WR Eddie Royal (toe), CB Shareece Wright (foot)
Thursday: RB Ryan Mathews (ankle), WR Eddie Royal (toe)
Friday: WR Eddie Royal (toe)

Limited participation

Wednesday: T Jeromey Clary (hand)
Thursday: T Jeromey Clary (hand), CB Shareece Wright (foot)
Friday: DE Sean Lissemore (shoulder), RB Ryan Mathews (ankle)

Full participation

Wednesday: LB Thomas Keiser (elbow), DT Sean Lissemore (shoulder)
Thursday: LB Thomas Keiser (elbow), DT Sean Lissemore (shoulder)
Friday: G Jeromey Clary (hand), LB Thomas Keiser (elbow), CB Shareece Wright (foot)

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