The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Los Angeles Chargers, 38-28, in their first game of the 2018 season on Sunday afternoon.
Here are the game’s winners and losers:
- In a game that was supposed to be more about Patrick Mahomes than anything or anyone else, Tyreek Hill stole the whole damn show on Sunday. Hill returned the first punt of the Chiefs’ season 91 yards for a touchdown, then proceeded to score a 58-yard touchdown on his first reception of the game. Hill scored another 1-yard receiving touchdown late, totaling three touchdowns and 169 receiving yards on the day. Hill started out his career as strictly a special-teams guy, then developed into a reliable receiver and is now officially in the mix for one of the best receivers in the league. If Antonio Brown wasn’t paying attention before, he is now.
- Mahomes was a winner, too. Though it wasn’t a perfect game by any means, we saw flashes of the guy the Chiefs traded up 18 positions to go and get. Mahomes makes throws that very few, if any, other quarterbacks in the league can make, and we are now beginning to see them in the regular season. Mahomes finished 15 for 27 for 256 yards and four touchdowns.
- Two of those touchdowns were to Hill, one was to De’Anthony Thomas and another was to fullback Anthony Sherman, our third winner of this game. Matt Derrick of Chiefs Digest astutely pointed out that in Sherman’s first 107 games of his career, he recorded 408 receiving yards, 11 rushing yards and two touchdowns. His last two regular-season games? 57 receiving yards, 40 rushing yards and two touchdowns. It was a sausage party on Sunday.
- Dee Ford, in the first game of his contract year, looked to have a little extra pep in his step Sunday (as he $hould). He seemed to get consistent pressure on Philip Rivers all game, and it paid off for him with the Chiefs’ only sack of the game. I think Ford will play just well enough this season to make fans second-guess what to do with him, but this is ultimately Ford’s Kansas City finale.
- Ron Parker played well in his return, picking up right where he left off in the Chiefs defense. The Chiefs sure needed him, as Eric Berry was indeed held out after being ruled doubtful for the game on Friday. Parker had one pick, and it could have been two had he not dropped the second one. Parker totaled two passes defensed and recorded eight total tackles by game’s end.
- In regular-season game one of his five-year contract, Anthony Hitchens looks like he was well worth the more than $21 million of guaranteed money. The Chiefs run defense was better, holding running back Melvin Gordon, one of the league’s absolute studs at the position, to just 64 yards on 15 carries.
- The combined force of Andy Reid and Brett Veach put a winner on the field Sunday against a team that many, including those at Las Vegas sportsbooks, picked to win the AFC West division. It wasn’t all pretty, but the Chiefs are 1-0.
- And Chiefs Los Angeles, you outdid yourself.
- Sometimes, it isn’t your day. And it wasn’t tight end Travis Kelce’s day on Sunday. Targeted six times, Kelce had just one catch for six yards, including one pass that was just knocked out of his hands.
- Similarly, Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt couldn’t really get it going Sunday, finishing with just 49 yards on 16 carries. It wasn’t a bad day, per se—just not a great start for the 2017 NFL rushing champion. He’ll look to rebound against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- The Chiefs secondary did not look good. I counted at least three occasions in which the Chiefs were badly burned but the Chargers receivers just dropped the football. The Chiefs managed to put 38 points on Sunday, and had it not been for quality players making unusual mistakes, it may have been a game at the end.
- Toward the final stretch of the game, it felt as if Rivers may have been singling out Orlando Scandrick, who, in particular, didn’t look especially sharp. He arrived to Kansas City, so he does deserve some time to sort it out, but not the start you’d want for the Chiefs nickel corner.
- The Chargers as a team have lost nine games in a row to the Kansas City Chiefs. I asked Rivers about needing to get over the Chiefs’ hump this week on a conference call, and Rivers told me that no year and no team is the same, but man, the way the Chargers lost Sunday, by shooting themselves in the foot on numerous occasions, felt awfully similar to recent years.
- Chargers fans. That was an embarrassing home crowd. Someone flew a plane around StubHub Center with the message, “ONLY TEAM WITH 16 AWAY GAMES” tailing it on Sunday. Through one game, it was true.
- Me. I got a few tweets after the game about my game prediction. Let’s pull it up.
I like the idea of having a Week 1 AFC West matchup, as right out of the gate, it feels like this game matters more. The Los Angeles Chargers have been the Las Vegas favorite to win the division all offseason despite the Chiefs winning back-to-back titles. The Chargers haven’t beaten the Chiefs since Chase Daniel was the quarterback, but I don’t think that matters here. This is a new Chargers team that offers one of the best front sevens in the league. I look at this game and it’s simple.
Chargers offense, good; Chargers defense, good; Chiefs offense, good; Chiefs defense, HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE at this juncture.
To update that last thought. Ahem...
Chargers offense, good; Chargers defense, below average; Chiefs offense, potential to be scary good or perhaps even elite; Chiefs defense, worrisome.
Through one game, I learned that Mahomes is more ready than I thought. But the secondary may be as bad as I thought, too.
Welcome to Shootout City, USA.