Chargers at Chiefs: Time, streaming, how to watch, key matchups, pick for Week 2 of ‘Thursday Night Football’

In this week’s edition of Thursday Night Football we have a blockbuster matchup of two of the league’s best teams – each from the widely anticipated best division in the NFL. Both the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers started their seasons by defeating top-flight opponents, and now they’re going head-to-head in one of the most momentous games of the beginning of the year.

The winner of that game secures an early lead in the AFC West and a shot at one of the top seeds in the conference. These two teams played some thrillers a year ago, with the Chargers prevailing in the preseason encounter thanks to aggressive decision making and big plays, and the Chiefs coming out on top in an overtime contest late in the year.

Which squad will make it to an early lead? We’ll find out soon enough. Before we break down the matchup, here’s how to watch the match.

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Date: Thursday 15 Sept | Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri)
Stream:
Amazon Prime Video
TV: Check local market listings
Consequences: CBS Sports App
Opportunities: Chiefs -4, O/U 54

When the Chargers have the ball

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The Chargers are without Keenan Allen in this contest, as they were for much of their Week 1 win over the Raiders. The Chiefs, meanwhile, won’t have rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie – who did reasonably well against the Cardinals before leaving with an injury of his own.

McDuffie’s absence will leave Kansas City’s main corners against Justin Herbert’s top remaining target Mike Williams, who is compared to Rashad Fenton’s 5-11, 188 and L’Jarius Sneed’s 5-11, 188 and L’Jarius Sneed’s 6-foot-4 and 218 Pound measures, at a disadvantage being 6-0, 189. Williams wasn’t heavily targeted by Herbert in Week 1, instead the Los Angeles signal caller distributed the ball to all his playmakers: Williams, Allen, Joshua Palmer, DeAndre Carter, Gerald Everett, Tre’ McKitty and Austin Ekeler all led the team with four shots each.

Herbert’s ability to fire absolute laser beams across the field makes this type of distribution possible. He (like the quarterback on the other side of this matchup) is the kind of rare talent that can turn targets of different abilities into equally dangerous threats simply because of his ability to hit on throws that shouldn’t really be possible .

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Still, the size advantage Williams, and to a lesser extent Palmer, Everett and McKitty, have over Chiefs defensemen should give Herbert opportunities to fit the ball into tight windows — because he can (and must) trust them. get away with contested catches. Kansas City’s Week 1 coverage against Arizona was pretty good, with Marquise Brown, the Cardinals’ best wideout, averaging just 2.2 yards per goal — 13th lowest of 74, according to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats Receivers and tight ends tackled five or more times. Brown has averaged 3.3 and 3.5 yards over the past two seasons, suggesting this was likely due to sticky coverage (and possibly Arizona’s offensive design) rather than an inability to separate.

The Los Angeles offensive line held up well in Week 1 against a very good pass rush from the Raiders. Herbert was under decent pressure but only had to climb once, didn’t take a sack and only got knocked down twice with 35 dropbacks. Kansas City’s passing rush isn’t nearly as scary as Las Vegas’s, so don’t worry too much about Herbert having time to throw himself into this duel. It’s more about whether Steve Spagnuolo and company can find a way to generate pressure without having to release too many bodies from the back end and thereby making the trajectories wider than they want. Chris Jones is the best pass rusher the Chiefs have, but the Chargers are pretty strong down the middle as the combination of Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley and rookie Zion Johnson cements things ahead of Herbert.

Austin Ekeler played just 49% of Los Angeles’ offensive snaps in Week 1, but he was also the only Chargers back to be as effective, with his 13 carries and four receptions gaining 72 yards compared to just 47 yards on 13 Touches overall Joshua Kelley and Sony Michel. Maybe rookie back Isaiah Spiller can be a better compliment for Ekeler when he comes on the field, but right now LA might want to get him back in the 60-70% snap range – especially in a matchup like this where they are You may need to score on every drive to keep up with another of the league’s most explosive offenses.

When the Chiefs have the ball

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After Patrick Mahomes blitzed at by far the lowest rate in the NFL last season (11.3% vs. a league average of 25.3%, with the next closest qualified passer being 20.3%), Patrick Mahomes netted more than on five or more rushers every other passer in week 1. The Cardinals sent extra bodies on 22 of his 41 dropbacks – a rate of 53.7%. The league average at season openers was just 23.7%, and Jalen Hurts (40.9%) and Trevor Lawrence (40%) were the only other QBs to be blitzed at least 40% of the time. The strategy was… unsuccessful as Mahomes made 15 of 21 attempts for 137 yards and four touchdowns with zero sacks, despite being pressured on 11 of Arizona’s 22 streaks.

In the first year of the Brandon Staley era, the Chargers blitzed at a pretty accurate league batting average. They also stayed within that range in their two games against the Chiefs, making 22% and 24% of Mahomes’ dropbacks under pressure. (Mahomes went 15 of 21 for 264 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a sack on those plays.) They pretty much scaled back the blitz rate in Week 1 against the Raiders, sending five or more pass rushers to just 16.3% over snaps.

It’s perhaps worth noting that while the Chargers walked away with six sacks, they pressured at a below-average rate in Week 1, making 28% of Derek Carr’s dropbacks by a sack, hit or rush compared to a league average of 33 % in season opener. That’s despite having an elite edge rush duo in Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, who were responsible for nine of the team’s 16 total pressings and 4.5 of the six takedowns. Getting to the quarterback without sending additional rushers is more important against Mahomes than perhaps any quarterback in the league because he blitzes with deadly precision.

However, it’s not like sitting back in reporting is any better. Mahomes recorded the league’s highest EPA per dropback against non-blitzes in Week 1, completing 15 of 18 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown without catching a single sack. He didn’t force anything at all and proved he was content to work his checkdowns and take short passes down the middle to the likes of Travis Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman. Smith-Schuster, in particular, was used specifically for situations like this and Mahomes kept finding him in weak spots in the first half.

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With JC Jackson likely still out for the Chargers, it will be interesting to see how Staley uses Derwin James as a pawn in this matchup. He’s so versatile he can do pretty much anything. Will he man Kelce more often? Will he play in the slot to try and take away some of that Smith Schuster stuff over the middle? If he’s on Kelce, can the Chargers count on the likes of Asante Samuel Jr. – who is very good but is on the small side compared to Kansas City’s redesigned wide receiver room, which is a lot of size – and Michael Davis to match? How much shell coverage with the safeties just sitting over the top, forcing Mahomes to work his checkdowns all the way down, Los Angeles wants to use – and will do that against an offense now designed to work to the end Point you drop a fuse so it can hit you over the top?

The Chiefs ran the ball fairly successfully against Arizona in Week 1, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire looking better than he had at any point in his first two NFL seasons. (Both CEH and Jerick McKinnon could succeed from behind that very good line.) The Raiders also ran the ball against LA with some success, with 46.2% of their rushing attempts gaining five or more yards. The Chargers’ total inability to stop the run came back to bite them quite a few times last year, to the point that they’ve spent a bunch of free-agent money shore up the issue this offseason. Kansas City’s offensive line should still have a decent advantage in the run game here, and using it a little more than expected could be a way to unbalance the Chargers’ pass rush.

Prognosis: Chiefs 33, Chargers 30

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