Trap game? Chiefs insist focus is on Chargers ... and improving

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo -- To a man, the Kansas City Chiefs vow that Sunday's divisional contest against the San Diego Chargers is not a "trap" game, despite being sandwiched between showdowns agains the Denver Broncos.
"This is no trap game," free safety Kendrick Lewis said when asked if the Chiefs would overlook San Diego. "The Chargers are the next team up. We know what comes after that (the Broncos), but we don't play that game until next week. We are focused on the Chargers."
The Chiefs are now 9-1 and tied for first place with the Broncos. They play host to the 4-6 Chargers at the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium in the first part of a two-game home stand. Game No. 2 is the return matchup against Denver after losing 27-17 at Sports Authority Field last Sunday night.
"Denver does not have anything to do with this week," said outside linebacker Tamba Hali. "We went over the tape, we know what we didn't get done and now we have to come back and play better and get things done against San Diego. That's what matters."
It helps the Chiefs' cause that the Chargers are a division rival and the game is at Arrowhead. Winning at home and winning in the division are priorities that have been established with this team and the Chiefs can double up on those goals by beating San Diego. They are currently 5-0 at home and 1-1 in the AFC West.
"All you have to do is turn on the tape and you can see that the Chargers are a good team," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "They have an offense that can move the ball, a defense that's going to blitz and bring people from all over the place and they are solid in the kicking game.
"It's important that we learn from what happened (losing to Denver). We have to bring ourselves back as a stronger team."
What's going to trap the Chiefs in their plan for victory over the last six games on the schedule is an offense that's still struggling to establish consistency and even an identity. The Chiefs were unable to take advantage of several opportunities their defense created in Denver in terms of good field position.
"You turn on the tape and look at it and it was all little things," quarterback Alex Smith said of the offensive performance against Denver. "There were little things here, little things there. That's what results in the inability to move the football. The details of everything - we need to do a better job with that. If we focus on the little things, they will take care of it."
The Chiefs showed more of a willingness to throw the ball deep in the Denver game. Generally, Smith seldom throws passes that fly 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage; in 10 games, he has thrown an average 2.2 passes per game for more than 20 yards. Overall, he has completed just 7 of 22 pass attempts that have traveled more than 20 yards in the air this season. Against the Broncos, he threw four passes for 20-plus yards, something that has happened in only one previous game, against Tennessee.
"I think offensively you have to be able to attack all parts of the field," Smith said. "That changes from week-in to week-out depending on how a defense is playing you. Certainly if a defense is getting aggressive, you need to be able to take advantage of shots down the field."
As the season has gone on and opponents have more tape to analyze Reid's offense, the Chiefs are seeing more and more man-to-man coverage in the passing game. That's largely due to their lack of speed at wide receiver, where only Donnie Avery can out run most defensive backs. Plus, opponents are crowding the box with safeties, pulling them closer to the line of scrimmage to deal with the ability of running back Jamaal Charles.
Reid is the offensive play caller on game day and he points to himself as one area that must improve when they possess the football.
"We know we need to put our guys in better positions to utilize all of their strengths," Reid said. "We can still keep defenses off-balance. We've seen a lot of man coverage; they're packing the box. That's a point where you have to do some things throwing the ball. You try to mix and match it the best you possibly can."
SERIES HISTORY: this will be the 106th regular-season game between these original members of the American Football League. The series is tied at 52-52-1. The Chargers won both games last year, by 17 points in Kansas City and 18 points in San Diego. The Chiefs' last victory in the series was in 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in a 23-20 overtime game.
-- DE Mike DeVito did not practice Wednesday due to a sprained left knee suffered last Sunday night against Denver. MRI results were encouraging and DeVito may miss a game or two, but it wasn't a season-ending sprain.
-- DE Tyson Jackson did not practice Wednesday due to a strained abdominal muscle that he suffered last Sunday night against Denver. MRI results indicated that Jackson's stomach while sore, should not keep him out for a significant period of time.
-- RT Eric Fisher did not practice on Wednesday due to a sore shoulder from last Sunday night's game against the Broncos in Denver. MRI results gave the Chiefs hope that Fisher will play against San Diego.
-- RG Jon Asamoah took part in practice Wednesday and appears to be headed for returning to the field on Sunday against the Chargers. Asamoah left the game against the Broncos in Denver with a spasm in a calf and a sore shoulder.

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