After playing two previous playoff teams, the Chiefs defense looks to rebound after their first couple of lackluster performances.
The Chiefs kick off their AFC West matchups with the Los Angeles Chargers this Sunday. The defense looks to rebound after giving up an average of 34.5 points per game this season so far.
The Chiefs did play the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, two teams with the potential to win the AFC North this season. But to win this week, the Chiefs will look to contain Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.
Their offense has a decent bit of depth that could become problematic for Kansas City. There are a few things the defensive side must do in order to get to 2-1.
Get pressure on Herbert
The Chiefs struggled to force pressures in Week 2 against Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Chiefs recorded no sacks throughout the whole game (one was reversed after a penalty).
One thing to get their offense to stop clicking is to force Herbert to make plays under pressure. This Chiefs’ defensive line should have no problem flustering Herbert.
Chiefs defensive linemen Chris Jones, Frank Clark, and Jarran Reed need to perform better. The defense is certainly working at full capacity when the opposing teams’ quarterback is flustered trying to make decisions.
Limit Chargers wide receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen
One surprising start to the season is Williams’ solid performances. Williams has two touchdowns, one each game and over 170 yards total.
Williams has also been a preferred target for Herbert, leading the team in passing targets in Week 1 and second right behind Allen in Week 2.
Williams is a long, athletic playmaker and is a sweet pairing with Allen. When it comes to pure route-running, Allen has shown to have one of the best and most well-versed route trees in the league.
If the Chiefs want to truly halt this offense, they’re going to need its secondary to limit these two guys from impacting the game.
Stop the running game
With Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, the Chiefs linebackers will have their work cut out for them. Ekeler is a speedy back who can affect the game with his running and pass-catching ability.
The Chiefs have really struggled against the run this season. The Chiefs have given up 404 yards on the ground in just two games, including 251 yards against Baltimore.
Along with Ekeler, running back Larry Rountree III could be a bruiser running back against the Chiefs. Rountree has seen plenty of running back No. 2 work and could see an uptick in carries if the Chiefs show signs of struggle.
Herbert will be able to utilize play-action much more if the running attack is working. Since the Ravens ran so well, don’t be surprised if the Chargers come out with a similar strategy.
So your keys to the win are: Stop their run, stop their passing (especially their two best WRs)? Brilliant.