Breaking down how the Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs match up heading to their game Thursday at 5:15 p.m. PDT at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The game will be shown on Amazon Prime and Fox locally.
When Chargers have the ball: Pro Bowl receiver Keenan Allen won’t play because of a hamstring injury suffered in the Week 1 victory over Las Vegas. That should mean more opportunity for Mike Williams, and the timing couldn’t be better. In his two most recent visits to Kansas City, Williams had 108 and 122 yards receiving. He also scored three touchdowns in both Chargers victories. He should be primed to make an impact. He had only two catches for 10 yards against the Raiders. “It’s funny,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Monday, “if you had watched practice early in the week, the guys were joking that he’s going to have about 20 catches.” Lombardi said it wasn’t any one thing but rather a series of circumstances that worked against Williams in the opener. “The defense,” Lombardi added, “sometimes decides where the ball goes.” Justin Herbert certainly should be welcoming the first trip of the season, even if it comes against the team that has won the AFC West six consecutive seasons. Herbert had at least 300 yards passing in each of his final five road games last season.
When Chiefs have the ball: In his first game without Tyreek Hill, Patrick Mahomes threw for 360 yards and five touchdowns as Kansas City scored 44 points, the most of any team in Week 1. So, yeah, the Chiefs are still plenty dangerous without the speedy wideout they traded to Miami in March. “I think the optics of Tyreek leaving … they had a lot of good players when he was there too,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “It’s just when you have a player that’s as special as Tyreek, maybe the other players don’t get the same amount of attention.” When these teams last met in Week 15 last year, Mahomes threw for 410 yards and hit tight end Travis Kelce for a 34-yard winning touchdown on the first drive of overtime. Kelce finished that Thursday night at SoFi Stadium with a career-high 191 yards in 10 catches. Among Kansas City’s most notable offseason additions was wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. A former USC Trojan, Smith-Schuster has faced the Chargers twice — both with Pittsburgh — totaling seven receptions for 56 yards. “You can keep them quiet for a while, and then, all of a sudden, they just get hot quick,” Staley said of the Chiefs. “A very, very tough cover.”
When they kick: Punter JK Scott earned a game ball for his performance in his Chargers debut. Scott averaged 49 yards on four punts, one of which was downed at the Raiders’ two-yard line. Dustin Hopkins missed a 49-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter to help keep Vegas alive. Kansas City will be without Harrison Butker, who suffered an ankle injury on his first kickoff of the season. Matt Ammendola will kick instead.
Jeff Miller’s prediction: The Chargers have won the last two games in Kansas City and three of four against the Chiefs on the road. Mahomes halts the mini skid — barely.
CHIEFS 31, CHARGERS 30