This game has a chance to define the AFC west
Quentin Morris @quentincmorris
This is a big game for both the Chargers and the Chiefs. After the first week it is clear these are the two top dogs of the AFC west and if the division comes down to tiebreakers later in the year this win could define the division winner.
The Chiefs are defined by injuries this week. Despite leaving Arizona with an unquestionable win the turf monster did take its toll. Trent McDuffie left with a hamstring, Patrick Mahomes hurt his wrist. However, the biggest injury is to kicker Harrison Butker. Head coach Andy Reid blames the poor playing surface for some of the injuries.
“It was a little bit loose,” Reid said. “It was part of the Butker injury and McDuffie injury.”
Butker did not practice on Monday or Tuesday and late on Tuesday McDuffie was put on injured reserve. This means he will not be able to return for at least four weeks. Mahomes did participate in full practice and should be good to go for the game on Thursday.
In a short week the Chiefs need to prepare for the firepower that the Chargers are bringing into Kansas City. On defense the Chargers were able to get pressure against the Raiders quarterback Derrick Carr. The Chargers totaled six sacks with three of them coming from Khalil Mack. Joey Bosa was able to get to the backfield a couple of times getting one and a half sacks.
While the Raiders’ offensive line is not on the same level as the Chiefs’ line, they will have to prepare for big play potential the Chargers have along the d-line.
The Chargers also have some big injuries heading into Thursday night. On Sunday Keenan Allen, the number one target for Justin Herbert, had a hamstring injury and is questionable for Thursday. They also have J.C. Jackson listed as questionable, a quality corner that got injured during the preseason. Both of them are likely to miss this game meaning the Chiefs will not have to worry about a top wide receiver and a top defensive back this week.
The Chargers will still have great playmakers like wide receiver Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler, both guys who are explosive and will make plays.
This game is likely to be a close game. Not just because it is a divisional game but also because the Chargers have played close games with the Chiefs during the Mahomes era. Since 2018 the Chiefs and Chargers have only finished two games with a point differential of more than seven points. Both of them were wins by the Chiefs.
Since 2018 the Chiefs have averaged 24 points and have averaged giving up 19 points to the Chargers. The Chiefs have won eight out of the last 10 matchups.
History says the Chiefs will win this game but it will also be a game that will come down to the wire.