Today is Saturday, December 16, 2017.
|Saturday, December 16, 2017|
|National Football League|
Arrows point to tight game between Chargers, Chiefs
Wednesday, December 13 at 10:36 PM (EST)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The teams meeting Saturday night share striking similarities with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers sitting atop the AFC West with 7-6 records and seeking the inside track to the division crown with two games left after their showdown at Arrowhead Stadium.
The teams share another startling similarity as they each have a four-game losing streak on their resume. Los Angeles coach Anthony Lynn said he believes his team's winless skid opening the season made his squad stronger.
"Coaches are understanding what we do better, I'm understanding this team better and the guys are executing better," Lynn said. "With the effort that we've always had, this is kind of what we had envisioned before the season started. I think we went through some tough times early and I think those tough times have helped make us better and prepared us for this stretch we're in now."
The Chargers now sit on a four-game winning streak, blowing out their opponents 131-53 in that stretch. Quarterback Philip Rivers owns three-straight 300-yard passing games and Los Angeles piled up 174 yards rushing last week against the Washington Redskins.
Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson said he sees the same offense with one small tweak since the last time the two teams met, a 24-10 Chiefs win back in Week 3.
"The only difference is they're running the ball a little bit better," Johnson said. "Philip is still Philip. He's doing a great job in the passing game. He still takes his shots down field. If you make a mistake, he's going to capitalize off of it for sure."
Kansas City coach Andy Reid remains wary of the threat Rivers poses along with his favorite target, wide receiver Keenan Allen.
"He's time tested," Reid said of Rivers. "He's been doing it a long time and at a very high level. He's got Allen who's healthy and that's his guy and he's playing at a high level. So he's in tune with the offense and his players and things are clicking for him."
While the Chargers started 0-4 and are 7-2 since, the Chiefs season offers a mirror-image. The club started 5-0 before their 2-6 slide left them in a dog fight for the AFC West.
But Kansas City showed signs of righting the ship last week with convincing 26-15 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Lynn sees the same team he saw in Week 3.
"Watching the game last week, they look like they picked up where the left off," Lynn said. "Their guys making plays all over the field and I thought they played well. They have weapons on the offensive side of the ball at every skill position. Lot of speed, lot of team speed."
The teams seem to be relatively healthy. The Chiefs will likely be without starting center Mitch Morse, who appears likely to miss his second straight game after re-aggravating a sprained left foot that kept him out of five games earlier this season. The offensive line fared well without Morse last week as the team pile up 165 rushing yards and kept quarterback Alex Smith relatively clean.
But Reid acknowledges that Kansas City's offensive line faces a tougher task this week facing San Diego's aggressive defensive ends duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
"They're bringing it every snap," Reid said. "They're great with their combinations and twist games. They're going to give you four good quarters of aggressive football."
Chargers starting left tackle Russell Okung (knee) along with starting defensive tackle Corey Liuget (toe) were limited participants in practice Tuesday and Wednesday but appear likely to play Saturday.
The rare Saturday night game brings a touch of history to Arrowhead Stadium. This marks only the seventh Saturday game and first Saturday primetime game in the stadium's 46-year history.
"Both teams have something on the line this late in the year, it's kind of a neat deal," Reid said. "Our guys are well aware of that and we're lucky we're playing here at Arrowhead."
With Saturday's game looming as a must-win for both, Lynn said he thinks that gives his battle-tested team an advantage.
"When you start out the season 0-4, you start feeling like it's a must-win game back in September," Lynn said. "We've been in this situation every single week."
Lions beat Bears to keep playoff hopes alive
Saturday, December 16 at 9:50 PM (EST)
DETROIT -- Jim Caldwell cringes at the mere mention of the playoffs. The Detroit Lions' head coach doesn't want his team to think about the postseason, even though they moved closer to a berth on Saturday.
Matthew Stafford tossed two touchdown passes and the Lions kept their playoff hopes alive with a 20-10 victory over the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. The Lions (8-6) need to defeat Cincinnati and Green Bay in the final two weeks of the regular season to have any realistic chance of reaching the postseason.
"That's not our focus. We don't talk about that stuff," he said. "Our focus is on one thing -- Cincinnati. That's it."
Stafford completed 25 of 33 passes for 237 yards, but the Lions mainly relied on their defense. They intercepted Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky three times in the second half and limited Chicago to 43 rushing yards on 15 carries.
The Bears gashed Detroit's run defense for 222 yards in their first meeting this season.
"Our defense played incredible today," Stafford said. "You go out there and get those turnovers, that's what we feed off of on offense, more chances. They got the turnovers and then just stopping that run game. That's as good a run game as we face all year. I know our guys were looking forward to the challenge and they stood up there and shut them down."
Eric Ebron caught five passes for 33 yards and a score for the Lions, while Marvin Jones caught three passes for 85 yards. Darius Slay intercepted two passes to lead the defense.
"Everybody (knows) this time of the year, every game counts in this league and they're all big," Stafford said. "There's something about December football. People know the regular season is closing down. You've got to go out there and play well."
Trubisky completed 31 of 46 passes for a career-high 314 yards and a touchdown but that was offset by the turnovers.
"We've got complete confidence in him," Bears coach John Fox said. "Sometimes quarterbacks have those days. He'll have better days. It wasn't all on him. We just didn't play well enough."
Chicago's Jordan Howard, who entered the game with 1,032 rushing yards, was limited to 37 yards on 10 carries. He also caught four passes for 26 yards for the Bears (4-10). Kendall Wright hauled in seven passes for 81 yards.
The Bears were penalized 13 times for 97 yards.
"We just didn't start fast," Fox said. "We had penalties, particularly on offense, to spot them 13 points in the first half. The guys battled and got semi-back into it but too little, too late."
Slay intercepted a Trubisky pass in the opening minute of the second half. That gave Detroit a short field and it cashed in on Stafford's 8-yard touchdown pass to Ebron for a 20-3 lead.
The Bears drove inside Detroit's 10 early in the fourth, only to have Trubisky get picked off again by safety Quandre Diggs in the end zone.
Trubisky completed a 9-yard scoring pass to Benny Cunningham with 2:32 remaining. He picked off again by Slay on Chicago's last possession.
The Lions led 13-3 at halftime.
Detroit settled for a pair of Matt Prater field goals from 48 and 31 yards out to grab the early lead.
Midway through the second quarter, Stafford rolled out and hit TJ Jones on a third-down pass from 3 yards out for the game's first touchdown. Jones' only other career touchdown came against San Francisco on Dec. 27, 2015, during his rookie season. The score was set up by Stafford's 58-yard heave to Marvin Jones.
Chicago's Tarik Cohen had an 89-yard kick return wiped out by a holding penalty. Another holding penalty pushed the Bears out of field-goal range late in the half.
The Bears would have been shut out in the half if not for Theo Riddick's fumble at his 27 in the closing seconds. Mike Nugent drilled a 41-yard field goal with two seconds left.
NOTES: The Lions were missing two starting offensive linemen, C Travis Swanson (concussion) and T Rick Wagner (ankle). G T.J. Lang departed during the game with a foot injury. ... TE Adam Shaheen (chest) and S Adrian Amos (hamstring) were among the Bears' inactives. S Chris Prosinski suffered a concussion in the first quarter. ... Detroit has won nine of the last 10 meetings. ... Lions QB Matthew Stafford became the first player to reach 34,000 passing yards before the age of 30. He needed 14 yards entering the game. ... The last time Chicago won a Saturday game was Dec. 14, 1996, against San Diego. ... Bears RB Jordan Howard has 12 100-yard games since the start of last season, tops in the NFL.
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