Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 10:42 AM
Last year the San Diego Chargers had the raw stats of a Super Bowl team, but couldn't even make the playoffs because of horrible special teams play and turnover troubles. This year's team is once again showing the same tendencies. The stats say they should be on the short list with New England, Green Bay, and a few others in terms of Super Bowl champions. Last week against the New York Jets, they got a cheap touchdown and still couldn't win as a favorite.
What's going on with San Diego?
*Is Norv Turner such a bad coach that he can't win even when he's dominating the stat battle by monster margins? Shouldn't he get credit for those stat wins. You can't pile up the yardage while shutting people down unless your schematics are doing something right.
*Is Philip Rivers just too big a goofball to trust when it's time to win a game? He's great in Fantasy Football. Why isn't he getting results in REAL football to the same degree? How can yards not equal points and wins when he's throwing the ball in the same way it does for everyone else?
*Is the defense getting too much credit? Maybe they're great at shutting down bad teams, but they break at just the wrong time versus quality opposition.
We can't say we've solved all of these mysteries ourselves. It's obviously true that special teams have been a concern. And, Rivers really does have a knack for making terrible decisions when it comes time to win the game (especially on the road). Let's look through our favorite indicator stats and see if any clues present themselves. That will also give us a chance to look at tonight's outlook from the Kansas City perspective too.
DRIVE POINTS PER GAME (scored and allowed on 60 yards or more)
San Diego: 15.8 on offense, 10.3 on defense
Kansas City: 8.7 on offense, 11.0 on defense
You regulars know that this is our favorite indicator stat because it tells you so much about true quality. You do have to make a mental adjustment for strength of schedule though. The Chargers have had things pretty easy. They played two tough games against the Patriots and Jets, and were outscored 39-35 on long distance scoring in those two games (which is certainly respectable on the road against playoff caliber teams!) Against the likes of Minnesota, Miami, Denver, and this very same Kansas City team, the edge was 60-23. Remember, the Chiefs had been through a disastrous start at the time of that first meeting.
San Diego's differential is +5.5. It would fall back a couple of points if they had played a more normalized schedule.
Kansas City grades out poorly considering they haven't played a brutal schedule. Sure, Buffalo, Detroit and Oakland are better than people expected. Teams like that aren't in any sort of pantheon yet. The other opponents outside of San Diego were Minnesota and Indianapolis. It's a respectable schedule. Posting a -2.3 point mark long distance scoring vs. a respectable schedule means you're not a playoff caliber team.
Obviously the big difference between these two is on the offensive side of the ball. San Diego can drive the field for points (even though they've yet to top 30 points overall in a game this season). Kansas City has been pretty helpless. Don't forget that 14 of their 28 points in Oakland last week came on interception returns.
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS
San Diego: 55% on offense, 44% on defense
Kansas City: 39% on offense, 42% on defense
Same story here in general, though the Chargers are even more dominant. You have to be VERY good to pop an 11-percentage-point edge on third down conversions. Rivers has some weaknesses, but we're very impressed this year with his understanding of how to move the chains. Kansas City has the kind of numbers you'd expect for a team with a poor drive point differential.
San Diego: -5 (7 takeaways, 12 giveaways)
Kansas City: -1 (11 takeaways, 12 giveaways)
Here's where San Diego gets into trouble. We saw poor differentials in our Sunday Night preview of Dallas and Philadelphia. The Chargers, Cowboys, and Eagles have a lot in common in terms of big name quarterbacks not living up to projections because they make so many dumb turnovers. Rivers, Tony Romo, and Michael Vick all make a lot of highlight reel plays. They don't measure up to the teams actually win championships because consistency is a riddle. Maybe if fantasy football had bigger penalties for turnovers, and for BLOWING REAL WINS, then this would be more widely understood amongst avid fandom.
Gamblers should be smarter than they've been. And oddsmakers! Philadelphia was the Super Bowl favorite in the NFC before the season started. San Diego was priced like a dynasty team rather than a perennial disappointment.
Well, we can't say our indicator stats said much about WHY San Diego underachieves beyond what was already known. They just confirmed what was already known. The Chargers put up great raw stats but erase those edges with badly timed mistakes. If that continues through the rest of 2011 like it did in 2010, they'll miss the playoffs again.
AFC WEST CONTENDERS
San Diego 4-2
Kansas City 3-3
Oakland had a bye this week…so everyone will be at seven games after tonight. Should Kansas City win, we have a three-way tie at the top of the division at 4-3. Should San Diego live up to its expected statistical dominance…then they take control of the AFC West with a 5-2 record and the knowledge that Oakland will be trying to win the rest of the way with rusty Carson Palmer.
JIM HURLEY always leaves no stone unturned when trying to find Monday Night side or total winners for his clients. He knows this is the most important betting night of the week in Las Vegas. Whether you were plus or minus over the weekend…you have to win on Monday Night!
*Our on-site sources are looking very closely at the San Diego mindset entering this game. Everyone knows Kansas City is going to show up as a Monday Night home underdog. If the Chargers bring their A-game, what the Chargers do won't matter. San Diego can win by at least a touchdown (and more like two touchdowns) if they play clean. But, a distraught team that's once again questioning its coach after another big road loss would certainly be upset fodder.
*Our computer programmers are running simulations around the clock to account for every possibility. When the Chargers are involved, that's a lot of possibilities! No team has as much variance as San
Diego when it comes to playing to where the models say they should. Sometimes that means a 42-10 win…sometimes it means an embarrassing loss against a lesser for. Our software is must hone in on what's going to happen TONIGHT!
*Our Wise Guy connections in Las Vegas and offshore have been alerting us to smart money moves all week…and will be on top of 'dumb money' developments from public betting throughout the day. By the time NETWORK'S play is available for purchase here at the website, you'll be locked in on the right team side…and/or the right total.
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