Chiefs – Chargers Preview: AFC West on the line

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Tonight, the Kansas City Chiefs will go against the Los Angeles Chargers in a primetime fight, for the division. The Chargers are red hot, winners of their last four, while the Chiefs have won just twice since starting the season 5-0. These two faced off in Week 3, and Kansas City won 24-10, and while the teams are quite different today than that week, the Chiefs can draw much from their victory if they’re to repeat it tonight.

With a win, the Chiefs – who would hold the tie-breaker over the Chargers, thanks to a season sweep, with two games left. The only way they could lose the lead would be losing their final two games, while the Chargers would need to win their final two games.

Here’s how they’ll have to do it:

1. Run Kareem Hunt

The standout rookie FINALLY hit the 100-yard mark (and the endzone) last weekend against Oakland, and in Week 3 he rushed for 172 yards and a score. The Chargers have played some seriously good defense since then, allowing more than 20 points just four times. However, they’ve yet to face a back like Hunt in that time frame. Hunt caused them serious problems in the first meeting with his patience on cutback runs, and the Chiefs would be use to use a heavy dose of them again.

2. Where’s Kelce?

Despite the win, their week 3 match was Kelce’s wost performance of the season. Catching one pass for one yard, he was effectively nonexistent from the offense (due to the Chargers defensive effort or game planning, I haven’t figured out). He’s been on a tear lately, gaining 70 or more yards in six of the last seven games. With Casey Heyward (97.0 PFF grade) sure to give Tyreek Hill fits, Kelce must make himself an open target for the gun shy Alex Smith.

3. Marcus Peters

Anyone watching the Chargers lately can attest to the majesty of Keenan Allen. He’s gone over 100 yards in each of the last four games, with four trips to the end zone as well. If the Chargers are going to be stopped, the Chiefs will need a steady performance from their best defensive back. He won’t match up on Peters all game, as LA will be sure to move him around, but it’s easily one of the most important battles of the night.

4. Which Alex Smith do we see tonight?

While the Chiefs won last weekend, controlling the Raiders handily until deep in the fourth, Alex Smith didn’t play a great game. He had a host of turnover worthy throws (one INT, and another called back due to penalty), and faltered against the Raiders pass rush. Faced with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, in a game that could decide their playoff hopes, Smith must maneuver the pocket with care. If he starts scrambling from empty pockets, the Chiefs offense will get ugly. Quickly.

5. Matt Nagy

Since taking over the Chiefs offense two weeks ago, the Chiefs offense rediscovered their aerial attack. Tonight will be his toughest task, game planning against some of the best defenders in the NFL. If Nagy can scheme a winning offense tonight, it will only build his case to be a coach somewhere. (Or keep him the OC in Kansas City)

Predoction: Arrowhead will be rocking, but the last time the Chiefs played a playoff-like game at home, it was in the playoffs, and they lost. Expecting the same tonight. Chargers 26-23.

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