2 Chiefs Dreams and 1 Chargers Nightmare

Photo Credit: Denny Medley (USA TODAY Sports)

After dominating the Las Vegas Raiders 48-9 in a game that was never in doubt, the Kansas City Chiefs have won six straight. They are now 9-4 and in contention for first place in the AFC. On Thursday, the Chiefs are once again battling a division rival on the road, hoping to secure their sixth consecutive AFC West title. Kansas City faces a Los Angeles Chargers team, coming off a 37-21 blowout win over the New York Giants.

The Chargers are 8-5 after starting the season 5-4 and are second in the AFC West. They have an opportunity to sweep the Chiefs after beating them 30-24 in Week 3. A win would allow them to jump ahead of KC in the playoff race with only three weeks to go.

For Kansas City, this is the biggest game of their season so far. Whoever wins will be first in the AFC West and will control their destiny in pursuit of the AFC’s No. 1 seed.

Let’s take a look at two Chiefs dreams and one Chargers nightmare in Week 14.

The Chiefs’ offense embarrasses the LA defense

In Week 3, the Chargers beat the Chiefs in a game in which Patrick Mahomes threw two interceptions that set KC back considerably as the Chargers only won by one score. This loss was part of Kansas City’s 4-4 eight-game start to the year.

The Chargers gave up 100 yards to Clyde Edwards-Helaire and nearly 300 yards and three passing touchdowns to Mahomes. KC has worked through their turnover problems and the Chiefs’ defense has become one of the best in the NFL, so the Chargers won’t be able to count on interceptions and fumbles to keep them in the game this time.

Los Angeles has had a porous defense throughout the season, letting other teams stay in the game. They gave up 37 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34 to the Baltimore Ravens, and 42 to the Cleveland Browns. While only one of the three games resulted in a loss, their defense has been playing with fire. It looks like they may get burned this week.

Mahomes played well against the Chargers earlier in the season, interceptions aside. Now that the early kinks have been ironed out, look for this Chiefs’ offense to take off.

Kansas City’s running game steals the show

The Chiefs’ offense has been slowly working Edwards-Helaire back into form since he returned in Week 11. CEH is coming off a quality outing last week against the Raiders, going for nearly four yards a carry and two touchdowns. Having given up 100 or more rushing yards in each of their last three outings, the Chargers’ defense seems to be most vulnerable in the run game.

While this offense’s greatest strength is the passing attack, it would be ideal for them to utilize the running game to lead into a play-action attack. Clyde looked healthy last week, and each running back on the Kansas City depth chart can provide a boost: Darrel Williams with his catching out of the backfield and Derrick Gore with his ability to rattle off big runs.

This Chargers team is prone to giving up yards on the ground, and that will undoubtedly continue this week against the Chiefs.

COVID hurts both the Chiefs and Chargers, leading to a much closer game

At the time of this writing, both Chris Jones and Josh Gordon have entered COVID-19 protocol. Chargers left tackle Rashawn Slater has been placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. All three players could potentially test negative twice before Thursday and come back. However, the odds of that happening are slim.

COVID-19 is once again spreading across multiple sports spanning the globe, including 37 positive tests in the NFL just yesterday. It is difficult not to see these leading to shifts in the game plan for both the Chargers and the Chiefs on Thursday.

As far as Jones and Slater go, it feels like a wash. Missing a top-tier offensive tackle and a premier defensive lineman look to be offsetting issues. However, losing Gordon feels more like an issue for this Chiefs’ passing game. Gordon scored his first touchdown of the year on Sunday against the Raiders, signaling he might finally gain more attention from Mahomes and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy in the passing attack.

Without Gordon, the passing game is back to Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson as a third option, and teams are well aware of that. Should the Chargers be able to focus on Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, leaving much of the offensive workload to the running game, this game could be much closer than we think.

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Photo Credit: Denny Medley (USA TODAY Sports)

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