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Chiefs-Chargers preview: the starting O-line is back to protect Patrick Mahomes

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The Chiefs take on the Chargers on Monday Night Football in Mexico City.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On this week’s mailbag/game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we talked about three points on offense and three points on defense to watch in Sunday night’s game.

Offense

Minnesota Vikings v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The offensive line is healthy!

We won’t be subjected to — how do I put this kindly? — not Eric Fisher lining up at left tackle for the Chiefs. For the first time since the first quarter of Week 1, the offense will have their starting offensive line and skill players at full strength.

It’s been a difficult stretch for the Chiefs, losing four of their last six. If the Chiefs can get the offense rolling, they could peak at the right time out of the bye and into the playoffs. It starts with a good performance this week with a healthy group.

Flood concepts

As Matt Lane wrote in his advance scout piece this week, the Chiefs can attack the Chargers’ Cover 3 heavy defense with flood concepts in the passing game.

The Chiefs should be able to put defenders in conflict with their weapons by overloading zones at different levels. They’ve had success against the Chargers in the past, and that shouldn’t change this season. Be on the lookout for concepts working to the sideline.

Hold on to the football

You can’t lose the turnover battle if you don’t turn it over. Patrick Mahomes has been intercepted just once this entire season. It falls on the ball carriers protecting the football. There have been far too many fumbles this season. In their four losses, the Chiefs have given up 28 total points off turnovers. Ball security needs to be a priority Monday night and moving forward.

Defense

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Pressure Philip Rivers

The Chargers offensive line will be without starting tackles Russell Okung and Sam Tevi Monday night — and it is a line that has already lost Forrest Lamp and Mike Pouncey. Third-round pick Trey Pipkins from the University of Sioux Falls will start at left tackle. The Chiefs defensive line should dominate Monday night. If they can pressure Philip Rivers, they should win this game.

Light personnel packages

The Chargers could utilize some lighter personnel groupings this week. You could see both Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon on the field at the same time, forcing personnel decisions for the Chiefs you may not typically see with 21 personnel (two running backs). You’ll likely see Los Angeles roll out Ekeler, Gordon, Hunter Henry, Mike Williams and Keenan Allen in a group. How the Chiefs will counter it will be interesting to watch. If Ekeler and/or Gordon are matched up against a linebacker, it could be a big advantage for the Chargers.

50/50 balls

Henry, Williams and Allen present a particularly big (pun intended) challenge for the Chiefs’ defense, as they can all win at the catch point at a high level. Allen (6 feet 2) is the shortest of the wide receivers and tight ends on the entire roster. This is a group where 50/50 balls are more like 70/30. The Chiefs’ secondary has struggled to make plays on the football this year. They’ve not located the football well at all. If that continues, it could spell problems for them Monday night.

Arrowhead Pride Laboratory

We went into further detail on these storylines and listed players we’re looking forward to watching on this episode edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory.