Sunday Night Football Preview
- Game: Kansas City Chiefs (7-2) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)
- Line: Chiefs (-5) | O/U 52
The Kansas City Chiefs will visit SoFi Stadium on Sunday night in a key AFC West showdown against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs raced out to a 20-0 lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars last week en route to their third straight victory. The Chargers were shutout in the second half last Sunday night in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Patrick Mahomes & Co. have rolled to five wins in their last six games and can open up a three-game lead over the second-place Chargers with a victory this weekend. In their previous two visits to Southern California, the Chiefs have twice defeated the Chargers in overtime. Injured San Diego receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams returned to practice this week, albeit in a limited fashion. According to NFL Research, the duo has been on the field together for just 7.1% of the team’s 608 offensive snaps this season.
The high-powered Kansas City offense leads the NFL in points scored (30), passing yards (326), and total yards (435). The Chiefs have posted 40-plus points in three games this season and are averaging 36.5 points in their last four road matchups.
Mahomes tossed four touchdown passes in Week 10 and has 16 career games with at least four TD passes, the ninth most by a quarterback in at least 72 years. The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback leads the league with 25 touchdowns and 2,936 yards and has thrown three or more scoring passes in five games this season.
Tight end Travis Kelce is the Chiefs leading pass-catcher with 63 receptions for 740 yards and eight scores. The former third-round pick is second in franchise history with 65 career touchdowns. JuJu Smith-Schuster, who suffered a concussion last week, has 615 yards and two touchdowns on 46 catches.
Rookie Isaiah Pacheco has taken over lead back duties and rushed for a season-high 82 yards on 16 carries against Jacksonville. Jerick McKinnon is the Chiefs’ third down back and has caught 12 of 16 targets 96 yards over the past two weeks. However, the former Georgia Southern product is questionable for this week’s contest with hamstring and shoulder injuries.
Linebacker Nick Bolton and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed are the leading tacklers for the Chiefs’ fifth-ranked run defense. Bolton has a team-high 81 tackles, including 54 solo stops and two sacks. Sneed has tallied 64 tackles and has 3.5 quarterback takedowns.
Kansas City has struggled mightily against the pass and has surrendered the eighth-most passing yards. Chris Jones leads the league’s eighth-ranked pass rush with seven sacks, and Carlos Dunlap has sacked opposing quarterbacks four times.
The short-handed Chargers’ offense played last week without both starting tackles and wide receivers. Despite Allen and Williams playing in nine combined games, the Chargers’ passing attack is ranked sixth with 272 yards per game.
Justin Herbert has been adversely affected without his top two wideouts. The third-year quarterback threw nine scores in the first four weeks of the season but averaged just one touchdown in his last five games.
Running back Austin Ekeler leads the team with 67 catches for 420 yards and four touchdowns. Williams and Josh Palmers have caught 37 balls each, while tight end Gerald Everett has reeled in 34 passes.
Ekeler paces San Diego’s woeful rushing attack that has gained the third-fewest yards in the NFL. The undrafted back has 451 yards and six touchdowns on 104 carries. Sony Michel and Joshua Kelley have combined for 209 yards and one score.
Defensively, safety Derwin James is the leading tackler for a unit that allows the third-most rushing yards. James has 85 tackles and three sacks, while linebacker Drue Tranquill has notched 80 tackles, three sacks, and one interception.
Khalil Mack has posted a team-best seven sacks for a squad ranked 19th with 20 sacks. Cornerback Bryce Callahan has intercepted a team-high two interceptions while Tranquill, Kenneth Murray Jr., Asante Samuel Jr., Nasir Adderley, and Alohi Gilman have each collected one pick.
CHIEFS VS. CHARGERS PREDICTION
Four of the last five meetings between the two teams have been decided by six points or less. The Chargers have struggled to stop opposing running backs, but the Chiefs are averaging just 109 yards on the ground each week. However, San Diego’s sixth-ranked passing attack has the advantage over Kansas City’s 25th-ranked passing defense.
The status of Allen and Williams will play a key role in determining if the Chargers have enough offensive firepower to trade points with the Chiefs. I think at least one of the wideouts will return this week, but the emergence of Pacheco will help the Chiefs win the time-of-possession battle and wear down the Chargers’ run defense in another hotly-contested win at SoFi Stadium.
My Prediction: Kansas City 27, Los Angeles 23
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Marvin is a sports fanatic who enjoys writing, daily fantasy sports, and coaching baseball. The native Texan loves traveling overseas and experiencing new cultures. Marvin is an avid fisherman and his favorite hobby is cooking Asian cuisine with his wife. People-watching at outdoor cafes, visiting different zoos, and watching vintage wrestling videos are among his favorite pastimes. He is fascinated with King Cobras, the Himalayan mountains, and the street dogs of Bhutan. His favorite TV shows include The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, and Have Gun – Will Travel. Marvin has coached baseball in Switzerland, Philippines, Brunei, and Bhutan.