X-Factors For Primetime Matchup Between Chiefs And Chargers
It was really nice to watch a game that never really seemed close. The Chargers haven’t had a game this season where they dominated consistently throughout the entire game, it was a very nice change of pace. Despite not having Keenan Allen and Derwin James, you would hope this would’ve been the result against the Giants.
While we are still waiting on information for certain star players, we do know that Allen will be back in action this week as he was taken off the covid list on Tuesday. Still waiting to hear on the status for James, and it’s looking like they will be without their stud of a left tackle, Rashawn Slater. Obviously, none of that is ideal as he has become one of their most important and valuable players on the team this season. If the Chargers are going to want to win this game there are some very specific things they are going to have to do, which I will break down below.
X-Factor 1: Find a way to slow down the Chiefs pass rush
You can look at whatever you want on this Chiefs team but simply, this team is on a big win streak because of their defense. No one would’ve believed you if you were to say this 2 months ago or really anytime since Patrick Mahomes took over the team. The main reason why the Chiefs’ defense has been so dominant is because of their pass rush. The Chiefs had 4 sacks and 11 quarterback hits and immediately set the tone in what become a blowout of the Raiders. The Chargers are going to have their hands full due to the news that we heard about Slater testing positive. The only way he would have a chance is to test negative two times 24 hours apart. At this point in the week, it just doesn’t seem realistic. On the other side, the Chiefs are dealing with their own issues with their star defensive lineman Chris Jones most likely being out as well.
Despite that, the Chargers are going out there with only two of their original five linemen at the beginning of the year. We all know Melvin Ingram is going to want to get some revenge on the Chargers this Thursday. Trey Pipkins and Storm Norton are going to have to be at their absolute best this week if the Chargers are going to have any chance of winning this one. There are ways that the coaching staff can help this line out. I believe the Chargers are going to be running more with Justin Herbert and getting the ball out of his hands quicker. You are obviously going to want to establish the run but it may be difficult this week so you have to find ways to get the ball in Austin Ekeler‘s hands out in space in different ways. The more they mix things up and keep the Chiefs off-balance the better off they are going to be. Once they have the Chiefs second-guessing that’s when they can move the pocket and get Herbert out on a rollout for the big plays down the field and start taking over the game.
X-Factor 2: Win the turnover battle
This one is no secret and is necessary for every game, but more so against a team like the Kansas City Chiefs. Back in week 3 when the Chargers and Chiefs met, the Chiefs turned the ball over 4 times while the Chargers turned it over 0 times. We all know how that game turned out. Ignore the fact that the Chiefs nearly came back, in the end, it’s what they do. I’m not sitting here expecting the Chargers to win the turnover battle by 4, that’s not realistic to expect again. Just winning it by 1 or even breaking even is huge, both offenses are historically efficient per drive so it’s going to come down to who has more possessions to work with, in the end. It’s all about being opportunistic, Mahomes is up to 12 interceptions and 3 fumbles this year. The Chiefs have the 3rd most turnovers in the NFL at 23 on the season. They are going to give the Chargers opportunities, it’s up to them to take advantage.
The defense has been opportunistic, creating 5 turnovers last game and 15 over the past 5 games. It is extremely important that they protect the ball and don’t give the Chiefs offense more opportunities to score. The Chiefs defense is 27th in yards per drive allowed but they are 17th in points per possession allowed. There are two things that jump out to me when I first read this stat. Obviously, a big reason is that they are forcing turnovers but their defense is holding strong when the other team is on their side of the field. The Chargers are going to need to protect the ball but need to be aggressive and turn drives into touchdowns rather than field goals.
X-Factor 3: Embrace primetime
No matter how many ways people try to spin this game or find the angle to it, the most important matchup of all will be between those that are never on the field together, Justin Herbert Vs. Patrick Mahomes. That is what people are there to watch and what makes this game so enticing. In my opinion, they are the 2 best young quarterbacks in the NFL and are both electric and an absolute joy to watch. Back in the first game this season Herbert completed 68% of his passes for 281 yards and 4 touchdowns. Mahomes on the other hand completed 61% of his passes for 260 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Herbert won the first battle and you know Mahomes is going to be motivated to show the world that he is still the best of the best. These two get to play each other twice a year for a very long time and have the potential to be the next best quarterback rivalry.
Now there is an added element to this one, it’s a Thursday night game. In other words, this is a primetime game where the entire world of the NFL gets to watch. Mahomes in his career is 10-7 on primetime, he completes 68% of his passes, averages 286 passing yards per game with 43 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Fantastic numbers that we are used to seeing from Mahomes, he definitely elevates his game under the bright lights. Herbert in his short career on primetime is 3-1, completes 67% of his passes, averages nearly 300 passing yards per game with 12 touchdowns to 1 interception. His only loss came in a game where they led a game-winning only for the kicker to miss the game-winning field goal and the Chargers to eventually lose in overtime.
Either way, looking at the stats of those 2 in primetime, it’s obvious that both of these quarterbacks play their absolute best when everyone is watching. This is what people are here to watch and see. If the Chargers are going to want to win this game we are going to have to have the version of Herbert that we have grown used to seeing in all 4 of his primetime games during his 2 seasons in the league. With how great the Chiefs are playing and so much uncertainty with injuries and covid for the Chargers, it is very difficult for me to choose the Chargers to win this one. However, I believe Herbert continues his stellar play from the past 2 weeks and his previous primetime games and the Chargers steal this one and take back first place in the AFC West.
Final Prediction: Chargers 38, Chiefs 34