Following a disappointing and frustrating loss on Sunday Night Football last week, the Kansas City Chiefs return to Arrowhead Stadium to battle with Los Angeles Chargers.
Sunday will mark the second matchup between star quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. The lone matchup in 2020 came during Week 2 of last season that concluded with a walk-off 58-yard field goal from Harrison Butker to lead the Chiefs to a 23-20 victory.
The two teams met in Week 17 last season, but the Chiefs were resting their star players after securing the first seed in the playoffs. The Chargers won their season finale 38-21.
The AFC West has proven to be the toughest division through the first two weeks this season. The Broncos and Raiders are tied for first with 2-0 records, while the Chiefs and Chargers are at the bottom at 1-1. This game is important as the loser will fall into the cellar of the division.
Last week, Kansas City held a 35-24 lead after three quarters in Baltimore. However, the Ravens pounded the rock down the defense’s throat and it led to a 36-35 loss. Baltimore is one of the top teams in the AFC, and the Chiefs had the ball in Ravens territory with two minutes left, but a fumble from Clyde Edwards-Helaire ended the game.
As for Los Angeles, they fell at home last week to the Dallas Cowboys. A last-second field goal from Greg Zuerlein gave Dallas the win.
The Chiefs have dominated the AFC West since 2015. They own a record of 31-5 over that span, which is the best record of any team versus their division rivals.
What to Watch
After multiple key takeaways from last week’s game, let’s dive into things to watch in Sunday’s matchup.
The key storyline of the Baltimore game was the Chiefs inability to stop the Baltimore rushing attack. In total, they surrendered 251 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The Ravens have the best run game in the NFL, but against Cleveland against Week 1, they allowed 153 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
It is evident that the Chiefs issue is against the run as they haven’t been able to keep a team below 150 yards rushing. This week, they take on a Chargers team that is has a more pass-heavy offense, only averaging 92.5 rushing yards per game.
I would anticipate Los Angeles testing the Chiefs’ run defense early to see if they made any adjustments. For Kansas City, they need to move Chris Jones inside more when they anticipate a run. Putting him on the outside against the run takes away his aggressiveness. A way to help improve the run defense is to have Jones up the middle.
Getting Tyreek Hill Involved
After having 197 yards and a touchdown against Cleveland in Week 1, Tyreek Hill did not play a factor in the Sunday Night game. Hill was targeted only four times, hauling in three catches for 14 yards.
The Ravens did a great job of doubling Hill and taking him out of the game, but the Chiefs have to do a better job of getting him involved. Whether it is through screen passes, jet sweeps, or quick slants, Hill is one of the NFL’s premier wideouts and when he is in a groove, the offense is nearly unstoppable.
the Chiefs did get more receivers involved last week, with nine different guys recording a reception. This week, they need to continue to spread the wealth, but also get Hill and even Edwards-Helaire involved.
Third Down Battle
In this game, it is a battle of two of the best third-down offenses. so far this season, the Chargers have converted on over 61 percent of third-down situations, which puts them at the top of the NFL. As for Kansas City, they have converted on over 52 percent of their third-down situations, ranking them third.
However, both teams ranked in the bottom 10 in third-down defense, with both allowing a conversion on over 44 percent of situations.
This week it’ll come down to the defense and which one will be able to get off the field on third down. The key to beating the Chiefs is keeping Mahomes off the field and the defense can keep him on the field with third-down stops.
Kickoff is set for Sunday at 12 pm CST at Arrowhead Stadium on CBS.