Analysis

Sports Info Solutions: Chiefs vs Chargers Thursday Night Football Preview

Week 2 of the NFL is officially upon us, and there might not be a better matchup to kick things off. A showdown between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs will certainly set the tone for this divisional race throughout the season.

Both teams enter this game 1-0, as the Chiefs took control from the jump against the Arizona Cardinals, and the Chargers got an AFC West win against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1.

In May, this game opened with the Chiefs as a 3-point favorite, but after their convincing win in Week 1, they are now a 4.5-point favorite via FanDuel Sportsbook. Additionally, the total has moved from opening at 52.5 to 54.5, as both offenses looked good in their Week 1 wins.

Chiefs Offense vs. Chargers Defense

All offseason, the discussion surrounding the Chiefs offense centered on the departure of Tyreek Hill and whether his absence would slow things down. After posting 44 points and 7.4 yards per play, the Hill discussion has been placed on the back burner.

Patrick Mahomes, once again, proved he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, as he posted a whopping 360 yards and 5 touchdowns, both weekly highs. His 11.8 adjusted net yards per attempt and 144.9 SIS-Independent Quarterback Rating (IQR) also led the league.

 

 

In regards to running backs, preseason darling Isiah Pacheco outpaced Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon in carries and scored a touchdown. The majority of his carries came in garbage time. Edwards-Helaire and Mckinnon, however, made their presence felt early on in the passing game, as Edwards-Helaire scored 2 touchdowns through the air and McKinnon added 3 catches for 27 yards. 

As for targets, Mahomes’ apology to fantasy owners was well warranted in Week 1. He targeted 10(!) different players. Travis Kelce led the team in yards, but JuJu Smith-Schuster led the team in target share.

Player Routes Run Target Share Rec. Yards
Travis Kelce 28 23.1% 121
JuJu Smith-Schuster 31 25.8% 79
Mecole Hardman 24 15.4% 16
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 32 10.3% 44
Jerick McKinnon 14 10.3% 27
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 11 7.7% 32
Noah Gray 9 5.1% 10
Jody Fortson 9 2.6% 1
Skyy Moore 7 2.6% 30
Justin Watson 7 2.6% 0

The Chargers’ defense will certainly have their hands full against this offense after allowing the Raiders to put up 8 yards per pass attempt. They did, however, force 3 interceptions even without J.C. Jackson.

Another positive for the Chargers: they forced 6 sacks, good for 3rd-most this past week. Newly acquired pass rusher Khalil Mack paid dividends early, recording 3 of those 6 sacks and posting a 12.1% pressure percentage. 

Both Mack and Joey Bosa will need to have a major impact rushing Mahomes. Even though the Chiefs allowed the 6th-highest pressure percentage at 39%, Mahomes posted a 0.57 EPA per play mark when pressured, which led the league by a wide margin.

With Jackson’s status still in question for this matchup, the Chargers will certainly have their hands full. In order to limit Kansas City, the Chargers will have to make some splash plays on defense as they did in both matchups last year when they forced 6 total turnovers.

Chargers Offense vs. Chiefs Defense

The Chargers’ offense will look to build on a positive, but not stellar performance against the Raiders in which they scored 24 points on 355 total yards. Justin Herbert averaged 8.2 yards per attempt and posted an IQR of 131.5, second-most behind Mahomes in Week 1.

Additionally, the Chargers fared well in early-down passes, posting the 4th highest yards per attempt at 9.2 and the 3rd-highest positive pass percentage at 61.5% in Week 1. 

What came as a surprise, however, is who the production was coming from. The Chargers’ target share was something to behold. Herbert spread the ball around so much that no receiver had more than 4 targets.

Player Routes Run Target Share Rec. Yards
DeAndre Carter 14 11.8% 64
Gerald Everett 22 11.8% 54
Austin Ekeler 11 11.8% 36
Keenan Allen 12 11.8% 66
Tre’ McKitty 13 11.8% 24
Josh Palmer 24 11.8% 5
Mike Williams 28 11.8% 10
Zander Horvath 6 5.9% 6
Joshua Kelley 8 5.9% 14

Both Keenan Allen and Donald Parham Jr. have been ruled out for this game against the Chiefs. Certainly a big loss in regards to Allen, but the Chargers will be ready for an all-hands-on-deck approach to replace his production, evident from last week’s target distribution.

One aspect the Chargers struggled with was the run game. Austin Ekeler was the leading rusher with only 36 yards on 14 attempts. Overall, the Chargers posted the 2nd worst EPA per attempt in the league with -0.35. Even though the Chargers will have to keep pace through the air, an improved ground attack, as a change of pace, will help the Chargers succeed.

Defensively, the Chiefs held the Cardinals to 5.4 yards per attempt through the air and allowed only a 36.6% positive play percentage. It will be hard to keep these numbers low against a division rival with a high-powered offense.

Both Chris Jones and Carlos Dunlap will have to make an impact on the pass rush for the Chiefs’ defense to have success. The Chargers allowed the 4th highest pressure percentage in Week 1 at 42.9%, so there is certainly an opportunity to bother Herbert in the pocket.

Conclusion

Overall, this game has the makings of another thrilling Chargers-Chiefs shootout. These two have provided plenty of classics in the past, and this one appears to be no different. 

As the Chargers are dealing with injuries to key players J.C. Jackson and Keenan Allen, it is no shock the line has moved to favor the Chiefs at home by 4.5 points.

James Weaver contributed to this report.

WATCH MORE: Fantasy and DFS Stats to Know for TNF 

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