Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Kansas City has the opportunity to take full control of the AFC West and separate themselves with a victory this week.
- The Chargers have lost three games by a combined eight points, with the opposing team having their winning score come in the last 2:30 of regulation or overtime in every instance.
- The Chiefs have a significant rest advantage in this game, as they played last Thursday night, while the Chargers are playing on a short week after a home loss on Monday night against Dallas.
- Kansas City’s offense has not been as good as advertised this year, scoring at a much lower clip and moving the ball with less efficiency than we have seen in years past.
- Both offenses rank in the top 5 in the NFL in situation-neutral pass rate.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
The Chargers continue to be the Chargers, finding new and uninspiring ways to lose games in 2023. Through six weeks, the Chargers have already had their bye and have a 2-3 record, with all three losses happening at the end of games and being losses of three points or less. The Chargers offense has been solid most of the year, scoring 24 or more points in every game but one, but their defense has struggled and not allowed them to turn their points into wins. Star running back Austin Ekeler returned to the lineup following the team’s Week 5 bye and had a solid, but not spectacular, outing against the Cowboys on Monday night.
Los Angeles plays at a brisk pace, with the fourth fewest seconds per play in the league through five weeks, and ranks fifth in the NFL in Pass Rate Over Expectation (PROE). Now that Ekeler has returned, it is possible that the Chargers will return to a more balanced offensive approach, especially since they are struggling to replace Mike Williams, who was lost for the season with a knee injury, in their receiving corps. Remember that in Week 1, the Chargers faced the Dolphins, and their rushing offense had a field day with Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley combining for over 200 rushing yards on 32 attempts. Given their success in that game, along with the Chiefs defense being stronger against the pass than they are against the run, it would not be shocking for offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to lean on his offensive line and running game more in this spot. The Chiefs rank in the top 6 in the NFL in pass defense DVOA and opponents yards per pass attempt while ranking worse than 20th in run defense DVOA, yards per carry allowed, and PFF run defense grade. There is also the added bonus of keeping Patrick Mahomes on the sideline for a larger portion of the game if they are able to keep the play clock moving and make their drives methodical marches down the field.
While running the ball more may help extend drives to keep Mahomes off the field, it would likely be hard for the Chiefs to find a lot of explosive pass plays downfield, even if they wanted to. Keenan Allen continues to be the alpha wide receiver in this offense, but the loss of Mike Williams and the slow development of rookie first-round pick Quentin Johnston have crippled their ability to challenge teams deep. The Chargers will work to utilize the short and intermediate passing game as well as their running game to control the clock and frustrate the Kansas City offense as it sits on the sideline. Additionally, the Chiefs are still a very good offense with an All-World QB, but they haven’t shown the usual consistent offensive explosiveness we have become accustomed to so far this season. With that in mind, the Chargers are likely to feel more comfortable with a ball-control approach early in this game than they would have in the past.