While the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs continue preparations for their Monday Night Football showdown at Arrowhead Stadium we offer our final thoughts on the game and conclude our complete analysis of this matchup.

San Diego (4-2 SU & 2-4 ATS) opened in the spread as a -3.5 point favorite over Kansas City (3-3 SU & 4-2 ATS) with the total at 44. In the first matchup of the year on September 11, the Chargers prevailed 20-17 but came up woefully short of covering as a +14.5 point home favorite in the NFL odds.

Philip RiversAll eyes will be on San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers who is struggling this season like never before. He’s thrown as many interceptions (9) as he did in his Pro Bowl season of 2009 and only four less than he did all of last year. San Diego fans insist he’s hurt, otherwise how do you explain the drop off in production? Maybe he’s missing Daren Sproles who went to the Saints in the off-season or perhaps not having the oft-injured Antonio Gates in the lineup has hurt him.  Whatever the problem, Rivers lack of production has been dissected to death unlike any Chargers quarterback in recent memory.

Scoring slump

Although the San Diego Chargers have scored at least 21 points in all six contests this year, they haven’t yet reached 30 points in any game and the fans are blaming Rivers. Although he’s 9-3 lifetime against K.C., his numbers haven’t been overwhelming: 233 passing per game with 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

San Diego’s ground game has been extremely inconsistent. Two weeks ago it rushed for 206 yards in a victory over Denver, but the Jets held them to 96 yards on 25 carries. Both running backs are hurt with Mike Tolbert doubtful because of a hamstring injury. Ryan Matthews is also a question mark with a thumb injury.

Chiefs QB Matt Cassel hasn’t been tearing it up either. He has thrown for just over 1100 yards compared to 100+ for Rivers. Part of his problem has been the lack of a running game which can be traced back to the season ending knee injury suffered by Jamal Charles who had 1400 yards a year ago. Cassel threw for a combined five touchdowns in wins over the Vikings and Colts, but had a horrific 38.3 QB rating last week in Oakland, when he completed 15 of 30 passes for 161 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. WR Dwayne Bowe has been Cassel’s favorite target and has made 67 catches for 496 yards and four touchdowns including a score in the Week 3 loss to the Chargers. Running back Jackie Battle has filled in admirably for Charles gaining over 200 yards the last two weeks.

Doing it with defense

At the moment the defense is carrying both teams. Kansas City has won three straight despite losing Charles and defensive back Eric Berry for the season. San Diego hasn’t found a rhythm on offense but the defense ranks third in the NFL in passing yards (176). The Chargers are in first-place in large part because of a soft schedule that saw them beat the Vikings, Broncos, Chiefs and Dolphins. All but the Chiefs have losing records. San Diego’s two losses came against a pair of winning teams; the Patriots and Jets.

The Chargers have won seven of the past eight games in this series, and although they are just 4-4 ATS in these meetings, my hunch is they’ll be able to cover the relatively small number.

Please check out our Chargers/Chiefs thread in the NFL sub-forum at SBR Forum and give us your feedback on the Monday night game.

Final thoughts: There’s no reason to get excited about either team. The game is likely to be low scoring with the quarterbacks playing it close to the vest and leaving the heavy lifting to the respective defenses. I’ll stick with the ‘under’ 44 as my play with a lean to San Diego.