Week 2 of the NFL season is in the books. Every team has started to realize what their teams are doing well and what needs fixing. The Los Angeles Chargers, after losing 20-17 to the Dallas Cowboys, had numerous issues that needed to be addressed. The Kansas City Chiefs, on the other hand, experienced an embarrassing loss against the Baltimore Ravens on primetime. Both the Chiefs and the Chargers are going into this Sunday matchup with something to prove. There are plenty of interesting matchups and storylines that will play out here. This is the Chargers-Chiefs NFL Week 3 preview.
The First AFC West Showdown
Through the first two games, it has been a subject of debate for NFL fans to determine which division reigns supreme. Often, the two that come up are the NFC West and AFC West. Every NFC West team appears ready to make a legitimate playoff run. The AFC West teams, on the other hand, have the talent to make playoff appearances, but all the teams (save the Las Vegas Raiders) seem to have some pressing issues they need to work out first. Regardless, the AFC West teams have not yet had any divisional games, meaning it was difficult to compare the teams to each other.
Now, however, fans finally get to see an AFC West showdown. The Chiefs, who many considered to be the clear favorites to win the division, are sitting in third in the divisional rankings. The Chargers, who are coming off an offseason of significant change, had mixed expectations for their season performance. Some expected them to make it to the wildcard round, others expected an early draft pick. Through two games, those divided beliefs haven’t exactly swayed one way or the other.
This game will be important for both of these teams for several reasons. Primarily, since it is a divisional game, the winner of this game will have an advantage in case of a tiebreaker. More importantly, this game will be key for both teams in preventing a slip into low morale and poor play.
Interesting Player Matchups
Travis Kelce vs. Derwin James
The Chiefs’ Travis Kelce is arguably the best tight end in the league. His production in the passing game is elite, even over many receivers, and yet he still has the blocking skills of a tight end. That said, safety Derwin James is like his kryptonite. In 2018, during James’s stellar rookie season, he and Kelce faced off. In that game, Kelce was a non-factor, catching two passes for 2 yards. When they faced each other again in 2019, Kelce only had one catch for 6 yards. Though James has fought through some terrible injuries in his career, his full bill of health should be a sign of hope for the Chargers in potentially shutting down Kelce’s reign of terror.
Rashawn Slater vs. Chris Jones
Chargers tackle Rashawn Slater has proven through the first two games that he was well worth a first-round pick. Through 152 snaps, Slater has allowed 0 sacks and committed 0 penalties. He made Washington Football Team’s Chase Young look like a fool in Week 1, which seems to be a trend for him dating back to college. Now, though, Slater faces his toughest challenge yet. Chris Jones is among the best defensive ends in the league, putting up 21 tackles and eight sacks in 2020. Slater will need to shut down Jones like he did Young to protect Justin Herbert on his blind side.
Justin Herbert vs. Patrick Mahomes
Last Sunday, Herbert became the second player ever to throw for more than 5,000 passing yards in their first 17 starts. The first? Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. These two quarterbacks are unnaturally gifted talents, and NFL fans have the blessing of being able to watch them face off twice per season. Last season, the two quarterbacks had an epic showdown in Week 2, where they dueled into overtime. Mahomes and the Chiefs came out on top, but Herbert proved that he was definitely a match for the former NFL MVP. Regardless of who wins, being able to see these two battle again is a massive win for NFL fans everywhere.
This game’s outcome will be huge in determining how the rest of the season plays out for each team. The Chargers have a relatively easy schedule following this game, so if they win here, there’s a solid chance they slip into the playoffs. The Chiefs, on the other hand, have a difficult schedule going forward, so every win matters greatly. This game will be an uphill battle for the Chargers after coming off a sloppy loss to the Cowboys. Unless they fixed all the glaring issues from that game in a single week, the Chiefs likely take this game 27-20. This has been the Chargers-Chiefs NFL Week 3 preview.