Week Seventeen Analysis:
The Chiefs defensive swoon began in week 12, at the hands of this Sunday's quarterback, Philip Rivers. Rivers threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns in that game, both season-worsts at the time for the Chiefs. In fairness, there were a lot of defensive injuries in that game. But, his game wasn't an isolated incident. Rivers has thrown multiple touchdowns against Kansas City in 10 of his last 12 matchups with them. Since then, their defense has been inconsistent. This game has no bearing on the Chiefs playoff situation, and they may rest starters at some point.
Week Sixteen Analysis:
Philip Rivers has rebounded from a mid-season slump with multiple touchdowns in three of his past four games. And with a matchup against Oakland coming up, his hot streak should continue. Here's what we can say for sure: Rivers isn't going to get shut out. Rivers has scored in every game this year, and Oakland has allowed passing touchdowns in every game but one. But that's a worst case scenario. Rivers has thrown multiple touchdowns against the Raiders in four of his last five meetings, including a massive game in their earlier meeting this year, when he threw for 411 yards and two scores.
Week Fifteen Analysis:
While Philip Rivers has scored touchdowns in every game this year, he's also been pretty feast-or-famine with 6 one-touchdown games, and five games with three or four touchdown passes. Two of those big games have occurred in the last three weeks. But when Rivers saw Denver at home five games ago, it was famine, as he only managed 218 yards and one touchdown. And this matchup has proven tricky for him for years. He's had zero or one touchdown in six of his last nine meetings with Denver. The Broncos secondary has been a neutral matchup for most of this year. Rivers is playing well enough that I wouldn't be surprised if he performed well, but history says to use caution.
Week Thirteen Analysis:
Philip Rivers was fantastic on the road against a tough Chiefs secondary last week, so this matchup seems like a no-brainer. But there's a little more happening below the surface. First, the Bengals secondary, even without star cornerback Leon Hall has been decent. Since Hall went on IR, the Bengals are allowing less than one touchdown per game. Second, Rivers has thrown just one touchdown pass in four of his last six games, and that includes games against easy secondaries like the Broncos, Colts, and Jaguars. So, while I like Rivers, there's more danger here than might be apparent.
Week Eleven Analysis:
I was hoping for a better outing from Philip Rivers last week, in his come-from-behind effort against the Broncos. Instead we got the third one-touchdown game in the last four from Rivers. And his 218 yards was the lowest total of any quarterback to play a full game against the Broncos. So, I'm growing worried about Rivers, and doubly so against an incredibly stout Miami secondary. In recent weeks, Tom Brady was held to 116 yards by Miami. Andy Dalton was shut out. Only two opposing quarterbacks have managed more than one touchdown against Miami. Combine those trends, and I'm nervous about Rivers.
Week Ten Analysis:
Quarterbacks generally perform very well against the Broncos. It's partly because they're usually playing from a sizable deficit, and partly because the Broncos secondary isn't that good. Opposing quarterbacks are throwing an average of 41 passes against Denver, the fourth most. Four times Philip Rivers has thrown more than 33 times. His average game in those four pass-happy outings? 393 yards, 2.5 touchdowns per game. There's little/no chance that Rivers doesn't top 33 passes, eight fewer than the Broncos average against them, so the prospects of a big game in a possible (probable?) shootout are very good.
Week Nine Analysis:
The Redskins secondary looked like it might be improved after decent games Matt Flynn, Tony Romo and Josh McCown. But Flynn and McCown are backups, and Peyton Manning just rocked this secondary for 354 yards and four scores. For much of the year, the player with the second most touchdowns, behind Peyton, was Philip Rivers. But, Rivers had a bye last week, and his production slowed in the prior two games, with just one passing touchdown in each game. Still, I love what Mike McCoy has done with this offense, and I expect Rivers to get healthy against a dubious secondary.
Week Seven Analysis:
Even after his ho-hum performance on Monday night, Philip Rivers has thrown the third-most yards and the second-most touchdowns. And, now he faces the NFL's worst team, the Jaguars. They've allowed the most passing touchdowns, 14 already. Except for Terrelle Pryor, every opposing quarterback has thrown for multiple touchdowns against the Jaguars. Over the last month, the average quarterback line against the Jaguars is three touchdowns and 286 yards. Credit Rivers for building wonderful rapport with newcomers Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen. It's a great opportunity for another roasting of the novice Jaguars secondary.
Week Six Analysis:
The angles for this matchup couldn't have been more unexpected a month ago, but here goes: The red hot Philip Rivers will need another great performance to topple the shutdown Indianapolis secondary. Wow! That felt weird to say. Yet, here we are, with Philip Rivers second only to Peyton Manning in passing touchdowns. Meanwhile, only one team is allowing fewer passing touchdowns than the Colts, and they're sixth best in passing yardage allowed. With four downright explosive games in five weeks, Rivers has earned the benefit of the doubt, but this is a surprisingly tough matchup.
Week Five Analysis:
Phillip Rivers has thrown for 400 yards in a game twice this season, his prior two 400-yard performances came in Week 3 and Week 5 of 2010. That season happened to be Rivers' career best, where he threw for 4,700 yards and 30 touchdowns. Enter the Oakland Raiders. They're still not good, but they're not nearly as dreadful as they've been over the last few years, holding three of the four quarterbacks they've faced to fewer than 250 yards. And two of four quarterbacks have managed just one touchdown pass. I'm not expecting to see 400 yards again, but mostly because few people will actually see this game with an 11:35pm ET kickoff.
Week Four Analysis:
Philip Rivers has been one of the best stories of the early fantasy season. He's thrown eight touchdowns, second most in the league. This despite losing his No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers to injury. He's filled the gaps with Antonio Gates and Eddie Royal, and it's been enough for Rivers to gain the confidence of fantasy owners. After a Monday night game, followed by two cross-country trips, the Chargers get to stay at home, and I see Rivers again being surprisingly competent. The Dallas secondary has been slowly improving, but it's still beatable. They've allowed seven touchdowns in three games.
Aside from injury to himself, everything went wrong for Philip Rivers last year. Well, that and a positive herpes diagnosis. His receivers were hurt and lousy. Robert Meachem might have been last year's worst free agent signing. The Chargers offensive line was awful, and he was sacked a career high 49 times. This year, the team spent the 11th pick in the draft on a new left tackle, and added two other free agent starters to the line. They also brought in a new target, Danny Woodhead, to play the role of Darren Sproles for Rivers. Vincent Brown has looked great in early training camp, and if Denario Alexander can stay healthy, Rivers will have some legitimate targets, and could easily bounce back from last year's disappointing season.
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