Let’s make some bold predictions about an AFC West matchup in Arrowhead.
It’s another year of NFL football, which means it’s another year of NFL analysts picking the Chargers to win the AFC West. While there is reason for optimism (as always), with the Chargers they still have a lot to prove. They come into Kansas City off a loss to the Cowboys.
Their defense played well against one of the top offenses in football, but the offense struggled in the red zone and the team committed over 100 yards in penalties. That is something they cannot afford to do against the Chiefs.
Kansas City is also coming off a heartbreaking loss that saw their defense struggle to get any sort of stop against a depleted Ravens team. Though the offense played well there are still some real questions about Kansas City’s new offensive line and their ability to run the ball.
There’s a lot on the like for the Chiefs this week. A loss would be the first time in the Mahomes era that the team had a losing record. It would also give the Chargers the leg up in the division, stealing a game at home from KC. Especially because the match-up in LA will be a Thursday night game, which is incredibly difficult for road teams to win.
Whenever you get two quarterbacks as talented and Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert facing one another you’re bound to see something bold and unpredictable. Here are three bold predictions for Sunday’s clash at Arrowhead.
1. Darrel Williams leads the Chiefs in RB snaps
While there are some serious questions to be answered about Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s production on the field, this prediction may not be as bold as it seems. First off, Williams has produced well in his chances to be the lead back in the Chiefs offense. He was the featured back in the playoffs until Clyde healed up for the Super Bowl. He had 155 all-purpose yards in those two games as the starter. Additionally, Andy Reid has a long track record of benching running backs for fumbling in big moments.
In 2019, LeSean McCoy seemed like KC’s best back early in the year, but after some key fumbles, Damien Williams took the job over when he healed up and McCoy quickly became a healthy scratch. Last year, Darwin Thompson had a key fumble (also in a Ravens game) that caused his small role in the offense to disappear. I think there’s a chance Clyde gets a few “sit and think about it for awhile” drives as Darrel carries the load. Lastly, we know the Chargers have a strong defense and pass rush with Joey Bosa and Darrel is the best pass protection back the Chiefs have. It’s reasonable to think that if this game turns into a shootout Clyde may be on the bench simply due to the game script as well.
2. This game goes UNDER the 54.5 points total
It’s hard to imagine a game with offensive talent like Tyreek Hill, Austin Ekeler, Travis Kelce, and Kennan Allen going under any points spread but it’s not as crazy as it seems. First off, the Chargers have really struggled in the red zone this season, they rank 5th overall in total yards but 27th in total points scored. Though this is a small sample size of just two games so far the Chargers have not eclipsed 20 points in a game. Additionally, the Chargers have done about as good of a job as any team in the NFL in limiting Mahomes and company. The defense of the Chargers limited Mahomes to just 23 points last year in LA. Lastly, divisional games always can get muddied up by teams and coaching staff who know the talent and tendencies of the other team.
3. The Chiefs pass rush makes an appearance
It’s no secret that the big men up front have not been getting the job done early in the season. Besides a dominant half of football from Chris Jones, the pass rush has been on the side of a milk carton. Last year, the Chargers were one of the few teams who had an offensive line as bad or worst than the Chiefs. They also were ravished by their annual wave of injuries. But, the Chargers have made some improvements in the trenches. They drafted a blossoming star in Rashawn Slater at left tackle and Corey Linsley one of the best centers in football was added through free agency. However, the right side of the Chargers line is leaking. Bryan Bulaga will be out with an injury and his replacement Storm Norton ranks 67th out of 70 offensive tackles according to PFF. The veteran right guard Oday Aboushi has struggled as well, Justin Herbert has been sacked 4 times thus far this season.
The Chiefs pass rush has struggled the last two weeks, but they have faced two of the most difficult offenses to pressure in the league. The best counter to a strong pass rush is an effective play-action game, as Chiefs hall of Famer Tim Grunhard says “If you hesitate, you lose.” The Browns and Ravens extremely effective ground game kept the Chiefs’ pass rush hesitating all game long and limited their ability to pin their ears back and rush. The Chargers are a much more traditional offense that looks to throw the ball. Look for Chris Jones, Jarran Reid, and Frank Clark to make an impact on this game.