3.) Protecting Justin Herbert
This is incredibly obvious, right? You’d think so, but the Chargers offensive line hasn’t done that well of a job over their past two games, and that includes former All-Pro Rashawn Slater. After allowing 26 pressures in all of his accolade-filled rookie season, he’s allowed 10 pressures in just the past two weeks alone. Granted, those games have come against Maxx Crosby of the Raiders and the fierce overall pass rush of the Cowboys, but you’d still expect your elite left tackle to perform a bit better against the best competition.
Against the Cowboys specifically, most of Slater’s pressures allowed were NOT against Micah Parsons. Most of his work was done against right tackle Trey Pipkins. So it was DeMarcus Lawrence and Dante Fowler that got the best of him far too often.The Chiefs have an attacking front seven with some A+ athleticism. Chris Jones is an All-World level player and former edge rusher Frank Clark is in town as of me writing this for a physical. If he rejoins his former team, the entire front line of the Chargers will have to play well above their recent outings to come away with a win on the road in very hostile territory.
2. The Chargers have racked up the third-most sacks in the NFL.
The Chargers have tallied 21 sacks this season – tied for the third-most in the NFL – and after failing to record a single sack in Week 1, Los Angeles has amassed at least four sacks in each of its last four games. That includes a five-sack outing vs. Dallas last week, and a seven-sack performance against Las Vegas the week prior.
Los Angeles features an impressive stable of edge rushers led by All-Pros Khalil Mack (7 sacks) and Joey Bosa (3 sacks), but two additional names to know on Sunday are rookie outside linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu and defensive lineman Morgan Fox.
Tuipulotu – who joined the Chargers as a second-round pick – ranks second on the team in pressures with 19, trailing only Mack’s 23. In fact, Tuipulotu has the fourth-most pressures among all rookies so far this season.
Fox isn’t far behind Tuipulotu in pressures, either, as he owns the third-most on Los Angeles with 13. A seven-year veteran, Fox is a versatile player who will likely line up from a variety of different spots along the defensive line on Sunday.
With all of that in mind, the good news for Kansas City is that the Chiefs have yielded the fewest sacks of any team to play six games this season with six. In that same vein, according to Pro Football Focus’ grading system, Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been the league’s best passer when pressured this season.
Additionally, for what it’s worth, the Chargers’ defense is currently allowing the second-most yards-per-game (391.6) of any team in the NFL despite those lofty sack totals.
Chargers become first team to score more than 21 points on the Chiefs in 2023
The Los Angeles Chargers visiting the Kansas City Chiefs is one of the league’s most intriguing, spotlight showdowns of the week despite the one-sided nature of this AFC West rivalry. The Chiefs have won 15 of the last 18 against the Chargers going back to the 2014 season. One of those Chiefs losses came in Week 17 of the 2020 season, when both MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce were rested.
However, each of those three Chargers wins have come at Arrowhead Stadium, the location of this week’s contest. Los Angeles has won two of its last three games in Kansas City, a surprising fact. For years, the Chiefs offense has been the breadwinning unit on their team, but through six weeks in 2023, that distinction belongs to their defense. The Kansas City defense is the only one in the league to allow 21 or fewer points in every game this season, as they rank second in the NFL in scoring defense (14.7 points per game allowed, trailing only the San Francisco 49ers’ 14.5 points per game allowed).
WR market heating up
Wide receiver is a buzz-worthy position entering the deadline. People I’ve talked to believe the Colts, Packers, Panthers and Chiefs have at least monitored the receiver market in recent weeks, though Carolina, sitting at 0-6, might be out, and the Chiefs got their man in Hardman.
Broncos wideout Jerry Jeudy’s name has percolated for a while. He will have suitors. Teams are torn on his worth, though, with multiple execs saying they couldn’t justify a Day 2 pick for him at this stage, though two others said a late-third-rounder might suffice based on Jeudy’s ability.
Bold prediction: Kansas City will sack quarterback Justin Herbert at least three times. Herbert and the Chargers’ offense haven’t looked like themselves their past two games, starting with a Week 4 matchup against the Raiders that included career lows in completions and passing yards for Herbert along with a fractured left finger. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Cowboys pressured Herbert on 47.6% of his dropbacks in Week 6, the highest rate of pressure he has faced this season. Kansas City’s defense is 12th in the league with 17 sacks and could take advantage of a struggling offensive line and an injured quarterback. — Kris Rhim
Stat to know: Arguably no two QBs have been better on the move or when pressured since the start of the 2020 season than Patrick Mahomes and Herbert. They both rank top five in QBR under pressure, outside the pocket and when blitzed over that span.
WR Rashee Rice vs. Los Angeles Chargers (38 Percent Rostered)
Two weeks ago, we suggested Rashee Rice as a fantasy sleeper, and he’s back on the list with another plus matchup.
Managers who add the 23-year-old should keep the rookie on their rosters for the remainder of the season. He’s second on the team in targets (28), receptions (21) and receiving yards (245) with a couple of touchdown catches.
Though Rice is a distant second behind tight end Travis Kelce in those receiving categories, he’s the young wideout on the Chiefs roster who’s primed for a big breakout game.
Even though the Chiefs reunited with wide receiver Mecole Hardman via trade with the New York Jets, Rice should hold on to a solid role in the passing attack going forward.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, “Rashee Rice’s profile could continue to grow in the Chiefs’ offense coming out of Thursday’s night’s win over Denver.”
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has targeted the SMU product at least five times in four out of six games, and the second-round wideout hauled in all four of his targets for 72 yards against the Broncos.
This week, Rice gets one of the best possible matchups for a wideout in a game with the Los Angeles Chargers. They give up the most passing yards per game, and they’re tied with the Seattle Seahawks for most fantasy points allowed to wide receivers.
Around the NFL
The NFL has fined Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams $50,000 for his actions toward a concussion doctor on the sideline during the team’s Week 6 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, a league source confirmed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday.
According to CBS Sports, which first reported the fine, the league deemed that Adams “directed verbal remarks and made inappropriate physical conduct” with an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) who was preparing to evaluate Seahawks wide receiver Jake Bobo for a possible concussion late in the third quarter.
CBS Sports reported that the league reviewed unspecified video of the incident before fining Adams. A video recap of Seattle’s loss to Cincinnati, posted on the Seahawks’ YouTube page, briefly shows Adams repeatedly shouting “He good!” as the UNC and Bobo walked past him on their way to the medical tent for evaluation.
Veteran Brian Hoyer will get the start Sunday against the Chicago Bears, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday, per a source informed of the situation.
The Athletic reported the news first.
Heading toward Sunday’s Raiders-Bears tilt in Chicago, we knew it would be the battle of backup quarterbacks, with Justin Fields (right thumb) and Jimmy Garoppolo (back) dealing with injuries. Undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent will get the start for the Bears. Whether it would be Hoyer or rookie Aidan O’Connell for Vegas was the question.
O’Connell started in Week 4 when Garoppolo missed the loss to the Los Angeles Chargers due to a concussion. The 2023 fifth-round pick completed 24 of 39 passes (61.5%) for 238 yards and a rushing touchdown. He also threw one interception, was sacked seven times, and fumbled three times, losing two in the 24-17 defeat.
There was some thought heading into the weekend that the Raiders preferred O’Connell to start games that Garoppolo was ruled out ahead of time, with Hoyer being more of a relief pitcher if in-game injuries struck.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Hardman revealed that a severe medical situation that required 10 days in the hospital began after the Chiefs’ Week 9 victory over the Tennessee Titans — starting with an urgent phone call to Rick Burkholder, who is the team’s vice president of sports medicine and performance.
“I was at home,” Hardman recalled. “It was after the game, on Monday. We’re off on Monday... It was just me and my girl... [she] was going to get some food. I was playing a game [and] felt some discomfort; I got a cramp. I went to lay down, got up — and literally every hour, it got worse and worse and worse.
“I called Rick and told him, ‘Something ain’t right. I’m hurting.’ He said, ‘If you get worse, call me back.’ I called him back five minutes later. [I] was in tears like, ‘I can’t do this.’”
What he had initially believed to be a minor issue eventually became so painful he couldn’t walk. He was rushed to the hospital.
“The bed that I got in at the emergency room was the bed that I was in for 10 days,” said Hardman. “It was kind of one of those injuries that we didn’t really shed much light onto last year — we didn’t really need to.
A tweet to make you think
Travis Kelce arrives in an Iowa State mascot head after Cincinnati lost to the Cyclones. pic.twitter.com/xXxxKtkTTz— Sam McDowell (@SamMcDowell11) October 20, 2023