Thursday Night Football this week takes us to Kansas City for what should be a good matchup on paper and will have huge implications in who will win the AFC West. Only one game separates these two teams with the Chargers coming in sitting at 10-3 and the Chiefs coming in sitting at 11-2 and currently holding the number one seed in the AFC. Kansas City already has a win over the Chargers this season when they went into Los Angeles in week one and won 38-28. The only thing that could drag the quality of this game down a little bit is the injuries to key players on both sides.
Chargers offense vs Chiefs defense
Phillip Rivers has a chance to pick up a marquee road win here and he will have to do it without some of his weapons. Austin Ekeler isn’t going to play and the status of Melvin Gordon is really in question after he’s already missed the past two games. The good thing for the Chargers is that the Chiefs defense is not good.
It’ll be interesting to see what the play-calling for the Chargers will be like with the injuries they have to their backfield. With the way that Keenan Allen and those other receivers have been playing, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Phillip Rivers really air it out to try and move the ball, but when the Chargers have been at their best this season it’s been when they’ve been able to be balanced, plus I don’t think it’s a good idea for the Chargers to try and beat the Chiefs in Kansas City in a track meet and they would probably be better served trying to be balanced and keep the Chiefs offense on the sideline as much as they can.
Another big key in this matchup is that Eric Berry will be making his season debut for the Chiefs. When healthy, Berry has been one of the better safeties in football and while he won’t cure all that ills the Chiefs defense, he will help, but how much can he help in his first game? That will be something we will have to wait until game time to see, but he’s a very valuable piece of that defense.
Chiefs offense vs Chargers defense
It’s well-documented how good the Chiefs offense is, but not nearly enough credit is given to the way the Chargers defense has played this season. The Chargers are top-10 in scoring defense and top-10 against the pass and rookie Derwin James has turned out to be a steal for the Chargers in last years draft.
This Chargers unit is also good at getting to the quarterback and they could be a team that can put pressure on Patrick Mahomes and potentially rattle him a little bit like the Ravens were able to last week, before breaking in the fourth quarter and overtime.
It’s huge news that Tyreek Hill will be able to give it a go. He definitely won’t be 100% dealing with his foot injury, but even just having him in the lineup is a really big deal because he’s been probably the most explosive player in the NFL this season. In other injury news, Spencer Ware is dealing with a hamstring injury and with Kareem Hunt no longer in the fold, it will be a tough blow if Ware is unable to go because they would be stretched really thin in the backfield.
This is really even because Desmond King has really emerged as a good punt returner for the Chargers this season and Michael Badgley has been much better than Caleb Sturgis was earlier this season for the Chargers. I’d still give a slight edge to the Chiefs because Tyreek Hill is more explosive and Harrison Butker has been just as good as Badgley, but both punt returners are guys that can change a game.
Also, the weather isn’t expected to be great in this game and the odds of a special teams play changing the game are probably pretty high because weird things can happen in bad weather games, especially on special teams.
I want to go with the Chargers because I think they are playing better football right now than the Chiefs are, but the Chiefs are at home and the Chargers are looking at playing this game without Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon and I think having both of those guys out in the backfield will ultimately be too much to overcome and the Chiefs will win a game that’s lower scoring than you would think between these two teams because of the weather and because of some of the injuries.