After a long offseason, we have finally made it to the beginning of the regular season. The Chiefs are beginning a new era, with Patrick Mahomes running the show at quarterback. This year they will begin things against a Chargers team, who has been surrounded by a lot of hype. There is even a fair share of analysts who believe the Chargers could represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year. Let’s go ahead and take a look at some headlines going into this Chiefs-Chargers game.
Does the Streak Live On?
The Chiefs have owned the Chargers pretty handily for a while now. Entering Sunday, Kansas City holds an eight-game winning streak against them. There has been a number of different ways that the Chiefs have been able to keep winning, too. For example, there was the largest comeback in Chiefs history to open the 2016 season. Also, there was the game where the Chargers drove all the way down the field in the rain, only to have the ball be dropped in the end zone by Danny Woodhead in 2015. With all the hype surrounding the Chargers, this game will have a lot on the line for them. Meanwhile, for the Chiefs, they hope that even with all of the changes, they will maintain dominance over the Chargers.
Matchup to Watch: Chiefs Secondary vs Chargers WRs
Going into the season, the Chiefs secondary is the weakest part of their team. Preseason results may have no meaning on regular-season performance, but there is definite concern about how the Chiefs will fair in pass defense. There has been a lot of changes, as Marcus Peters is gone and now the best cornerback on the team will be playing his first official snap for the Chiefs this week. Also for this contest, it looks as if the Chiefs will be without Eric Berry, who is nursing a heel injury. Berry has not participated in practice in over three weeks and is officially listed as doubtful for Sunday.
With that said, it’s hard not to give the advantage to the Chargers receivers in this matchup. Keenan Allen could not have torn it up any better last season. In his first season of playing all 16 games, Allen had a career high in receptions and receiving yards, by a pretty large margin. Kansas City will also have to worry about speedsters Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams, who run swift routes and can catch anything Philip Rivers throws their way. Finally, we have Mike Williams. He needed to have a strong preseason after missing basically his entire rookie year last season. Williams didn’t disappoint, showing his best attributes in multiple opportunities.
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We know that there are high aspirations for the Chiefs offense. But, this is a Chargers team who fields one of the better starting defenses in the league. Though, they will be without star pass rusher Joey Bosa, who has a nagging foot injury.
The Chiefs will attempt to counteract this defense by throwing multiple looks at them. We saw some creative wrinkles in the offense in the preseason, and Mahomes has said that those were just the first or second of twenty possible installs. Just by hearing that, it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Chiefs get in Week One.
-The last time the Chargers beat the Chiefs, Mahomes was a junior in high school. Also, Mahomes was just six days short of his 11th birthday when Philip Rivers made his first career NFL start in 2006.
-While Berry will miss Sunday’s game for Kansas City, this is not something new. Last year Berry missed both games against the Chargers, and the Chiefs fared well. The Chargers only scored 10 and 13 points respectively in both games. That is with the Chargers averaging 22.2 PPG last season. The Chiefs picked off Rivers 6 times, sacked him 4 times, with a 52.6 completion percentage. Melvin Gordon never broke 80 yards.
-As much flack as defensive coordinator Bob Sutton gets, he has done well in this matchup since coming to Kansas City. Rivers has 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, with a 76.3 passer rating vs Sutton. The Chiefs are 8-2 in those games.
Thank you for reading. Enjoy the Chiefs-Chargers, as well as the other NFL games this week. For more previews and post-game analysis, check out Going for 2.