It should be a close game. Seven of the last nine matchups between these two AFC West rivals have been decided by a single score. While Los Angeles’ 2-3 record is indicative of the team’s struggles to start the season, it is still a dangerous opponent. This is especially true when quarterback Justin Herbert — who always seems to play at his best against Kansas City — is on the field.
“His numbers speak for [themselves],” said Kansas City defensive lineman Chris Jones during his Wednesday press appearance. “They say, ‘Women and men lie — but numbers don’t lie.’ You look at his numbers year-in and year-out? He’s continued to be dominant. He’s continued to make big-time throws. He’s continued to be a force on their team.
“Sometimes the record doesn’t show how good a player is. We go back to last week: Russell Wilson has a QBR of like 101, but they have a bad record. Does that mean he’s a bad quarterback? No. His QBR is telling you he’s not a bad quarterback; [he’s] just in an unfortunate situation.
“So I definitely think that he’s a heck of a quarterback — a top-10 quarterback in this league.”
Fortunately, the Chiefs also have a pretty decent quarterback: two-time Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes. The reigning league MVP should be plenty fired up for this matchup against Herbert, whom he leads 4-2 head-to-head.
“He’s a great quarterback,” said Mahomes on Wednesday. “He does a lot of great things on the football field. I’ve said it multiple times: he makes some throws I don’t think anyone else can make.
“I got to meet him more this offseason — shooting those commercials and stuff like that. He’s a great guy — and I think he’s a pretty good golfer, so maybe we’ll have to get on the golf course at some point.
“I haven’t built that friendship like that, but I’ve talked to him a couple [of] times now — and [I] understand he’s a really good guy; all his teammates love him.”
The Chargers hope that new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore can provide a different plan of attack that will allow them to keep up with the Chiefs. Thus far, Herbert has done his best to adapt to Moore’s system — ranking sixth in both passing yards per game (266.6) and QBR (67.8) — but it hasn’t been easy; the coordinator is Herbert’s third in four years.
“He is a sharp kid — very, very smart,” Kansas City head coach Andy Reid said of Herbert. “He’s got a coach now that played that position in the NFL. It looks like he’s doing pretty good with it; he looks sharp.”
Adding to the potency of the Chargers’ offense is the healthy return of running back Austin Ekeler, who missed three games after he suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1.
“There’s nothing he can’t do,” Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. said of Ekeler. “He missed a couple [of] weeks — but he’s back now healthy. He can run the ball [and] catch the ball out of the backfield, so we’ll just keep our eyes on him.”
But in the Los Angeles offense, it all comes back to Herbert. Kansas City’s defenders know that stopping him will be the key to victory on Sunday afternoon.
“He’s a quarterback that’s growing,” noted Gay. “He’s been good since Day 1 — when he came into the league with me four years ago. He was good then — and he’s getting even better now.”