Locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs, the Kansas City
Chiefs don’t have much to play for in Sunday’s regular-season
finale at San Diego.
While that certainly bodes well for the Chargers’ postseason
hopes, they could already be eliminated by the time kickoff rolls
Set to hit the road for a wild-card game in two weeks, Chiefs
coach Andy Reid is debating whether to play his starters or keep
them on the sidelines.
“If you look at the history of it, it’s about a 50-50 shot over
the last three or four years of people who have done it. It’s what
you’re most comfortable with as a coach,” Reid said. “The obvious
benefit is you rest your guys. You kind of get back a little
fresher than what they were at the end of the season. You take a
risk of the timing part of it. So those are the things that you
have to evaluate.
“… This is one of those decisions you make, it’s a bit of a
gut feeling you go with.”
While Sunday’s matchup is virtually meaningless for Kansas City
(11-4), San Diego (8-7) could be playing for a playoff berth.
Besides needing to beat the Chiefs, the Chargers must have Miami
and Baltimore lose or tie in order to clinch the conference’s
second wild-card spot.
San Diego could also get in with a tie plus losses by the
Dolphins and Ravens, who both play at 1:00 pm EST. Miami hosts the
New York Jets while Baltimore visits Cincinnati.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us before that time and we have
to beat the Kansas City Chiefs,” coach Mike McCoy said. “If we
don’t beat them, we’re not in. That’s our No. 1 concern right now.
Win this game this weekend.”
The Chargers’ game plan won’t change even if they are eliminated
“There’s only one person happy at the end of the year and that’s
the team who’s holding the trophy at the end,” McCoy said. “So
that’s always your No. 1 goal. You always want to try and win as
many games as you can and get in that tournament.”
Top rusher Ryan Mathews is expected to play despite missing
practice with an injured left ankle. Mathews has run for a
career-high 1,111 yards, including 329 over the past three weeks,
and now looks to play all 16 games for the first time in his
“He’ll be ready,” McCoy said. “He’s got a great frame of mind
right now. I’m looking forward to him having another big game.”
San Diego could catch a break if Reid decides to rest Jamaal
Charles, who leads the NFL with 19 total touchdowns after scoring
11 over the past five games. Charles has 794 yards from scrimmage
during that span and is averaging 132.0 this season, ranking second
in the league behind LeSean McCoy (134.1).
Charles, though, hasn’t heard anything regarding his status for
“Man, I don’t have nothing to do with it,” he said. “We still
want to win. We’ve got one more game to play before the
The Chiefs opened 9-0 but have since dropped four of six after
falling 23-7 to Indianapolis last Sunday. Charles had a 31-yard
touchdown run on Kansas City’s first drive.
San Diego is coming off its season-high third consecutive
victory, 26-13 over Oakland last Sunday. Mathews compiled 119 total
yards and a touchdown.
“I’m just trying to work hard and be there for my teammates, and
that’s all that matters,” he said. “I try to be as good as I can be
for the linemen up front. They block their tails off.”
Mathews leads the NFL with 97 carries since Week 13, and the
Chargers are 5-0 this year when he has at least 20. They’re 5-1
when he scores a rushing TD compared to 3-6 when he doesn’t.
Mathews found the end zone as San Diego handed Kansas City its
first home loss, 41-38 on Nov. 24. Philip Rivers threw for 392
yards and three touchdowns.
Rivers has a 126.1 passer rating as the Chargers have won the
last three meetings. He’s helped San Diego take 10 of 12 in the
series, including five in a row at home by an average of 16.4