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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Chiefs

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The Los Angeles Chargers (10-3) head to Kansas City for a key AFC West clash against the Chiefs (11-2) on Thursday Night Football. Kickoff from Arrowhead Stadium is set for 5:20pm PT.

What to Watch For…

On Offense for the Chargers

Philip Rivers looks to bolster his MVP resume Thursday night, adding to a campaign in which he’s already completed 284 of 409 attempts (69.4 percent) for 3,638 yards, 29 touchdowns and just six interceptions for a 114.5 passer rating. Keenan Allen looks to continue a torrid pace in which he’s scored a touchdown in five straight games. On the year, KA13 has hauled in 88 passes for 1,074 yards and six touchdowns, surpassing the 1,000-yard plateau for the second consecutive season and third time in six career seasons. Meanwhile, Mike Williams leads the team with seven receiving touchdowns, and has been a reliable target as he’s also caught 30 passes for 516 yards, many coming in key situations. Finally, the Chargers’ ground attack is in a bit of flux at the moment as Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler’s status remain unclear as they deal with injuries. Thus, the Bolts may rely heavily on Justin Jackson, who has toted the rock 27 times for 139 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Fellow rookie Detrez Newsome may also see an increase in touches if the team’s top two backs are unable to go.

On Offense for the Chiefs

Kansas City boasts an MVP favorite of their own at quarterback in Patrick Mahomes. The big-armed QB has thrived in his first season as a starter, completing 322 of 482 attempts (66.8 percent) for a league-leading 4,300 yards, a whopping 43 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a 115.2 passer rating. He’s also run for 235 yards on 53 carries, averaging 4.4 ypc with two TDs. Mahomes’ top weapon has been tight end Travis Kelce, who leads the team with 86 receptions for 1,159 yards and 10 touchdowns. His most explosive receiver is the league’s fastest player, Tyreek Hill, who has 74 catches for 1,258 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Meanwhile, Spencer Ware is Kansas City’s lead back following Kareem Hunt’s release, and he has 51 carries on the year for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Damien Williams is also in the mix as of late as he’s carried the ball 16 times for 124 yards along with nine catches for 41 yards with most of his damage coming in the past two weeks.

On Defense for the Chargers

Derwin James announced his presence with a terrific game to open the season vs. the Chiefs, and he enters the Week 15 meeting as the Bolts’ leading tackler with 92. He’s followed closely by Jatavis Brown (83), who has raised his game to the next level after fellow linebackers Kyzir White and Denzel Perryman were lost for the year. Meanwhile, Joey Bosa is once again up to his usual tricks, averaging a sack a game since returning in Week 11. Finally, James and Desmond King pace the Chargers with three picks apiece.  

On Defense for the Chiefs

The Chiefs may receive a huge emotional lift Thursday night as Eric Berry may play in his first game since Week 1 of the 2017 season. Overall, Kansas City’s defense is predicated around their pass rush, led by Chris Jones (11.5 sacks), Dee Ford (11.0) and Justin Houston (5.5). Meanwhile, Anthony Hitchens leads the team with 104 total tackles while Steven Nelson paces the defense with three interceptions.

Series History

The Chiefs hold a 61-55-1 all-time series advantage and have won the last nine matchups. Kansas City won the season opener in Los Angeles, 38-28. The two teams last met in Kansas City on Dec. 16, 2017, where the Chiefs won 30-13. The Chiefs hold a 35-23 all-time mark at home against the Bolts and have won the last four meetings at Arrowhead.

By the Numbers

The Chargers rank sixth in total offense (390.8 yards per game), ninth in passing (268.8 ypg), 12th in rushing (122.1 ypg) and fifth in points (28.2). The Chiefs rank first in total offense (437.5 ypg), third in passing (318.8 ypg), 15th in rushing (118.6 ypg) and first in points (36.2).

Defensively, the Bolts rank eighth in total defense (331.8 ypg), seventh in passing (224.8 ypg), 11th in rushing (107.1 ypg) and seventh in points allowed (20.8). Kansas City ranks 30th in total defense (409.6 ypg), 32nd in passing (281.8 ypg), 25th in rushing (127.8 ypg) and 28th in points allowed (27.0).

Milestones on the Horizon

Philip Rivers needs 300-plus passing yards to record his 62nd career game with at least 300 yards, tying Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre for the fifth-most in history.

Rivers needs 362 passing yards to reach 4,000 for the year. It would be his 10th season reaching that mark, which would be good for the third-most 4,000-yard campaigns in NFL history.

Rivers needs a touchdown pass to record his sixth 30-touchdown season, tying Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers for the fifth-most in league history.

Rivers needs a passer rating of at least 90 to become just the second quarterback in NFL history to do so in each of the first 14 games to start a season (Peyton Manning with Indianapolis in 2004).

Keenan Allen needs 12 more receptions to reach 100 for the season, which would mark the third 100-catch campaign in team history (and his second-straight).

Allen needs 15 more receptions to reach 103 on the year, breaking his own team record of 102 set last season.

Allen needs at least 10 receptions, 100 yards and a touchdown catch to post his fifth such game since 2017, which would be the most over that span.

Antonio Gates needs four receptions to reach 952 for his career and tie Hall of Fame WR Andre Reed for 17th in NFL history.

Gates needs 69 receiving yards to reach 11,835 for his career and pass Hall of Fame WR Don Maynard (11,834) for 28th on the all-time list.

Melvin Ingram needs 3.5 sacks to reach 44.0 for his career to pass LB Shawne Merriman for No. 6 in team history.

Derwin James needs an interception to be the first Chargers rookie with four interceptions since CB John Hendy had four in 1985.

Noteworthy vs. the Chiefs

During a Chargers game against Kansas City in Nov. 2015, Philip Rivers became the franchise’s all-time leader for career completions. During the Bolts’ second meeting that year in Kansas City, Rivers passed former Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana to become the 15th-most prolific passer (yards) in NFL history.

In 27 career games against Kansas City, Gates has 117 catches, good for 1,447 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has more receptions, yards and touchdowns vs. the Chiefs than any other single opponent.

In the Chargers’ 2016 regular-season finale, Jahleel Addae took an interception 90 yards for the score. The touchdown was a career first for the safety.

Melvin Ingram recorded a single-game career-high 3.0 sacks when the two teams met on Sept. 24, 2017.

Connections

Chargers Running Backs Coach Alfredo Roberts played tight end for the Chiefs from 1988-90.

DT Damion Square was on the roster for the Chiefs in 2014.

DT T.Y. McGill spent the 2018 offseason with the Chiefs.

Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy was drafted as a running back by the Chargers in 1991, where he played for three seasons (1991-94) including an appearance in Super Bowl XXIX.

Broadcast Information

FOX/NFLN – Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (analyst), Erin Andrews (sideline) and Kristina Pink (sideline)

KFI-AM 640 – Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Daniel Jeremiah (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)

Spanish Radio: KFWB – AM 980 – Mario Solis (play-by-play) and Jorge Villanueva (analyst)

Chargers radio broadcasts throughout the season will be able to be heard across ten radio stations from Southern California to Nevada. Fans can listen in English on KGB-FM and KLSD-AM (San Diego), KNWZ-AM (Palm Springs), KALZ-AM (Fresno), KBFP-AM (Bakersfield), KNWH-FM (Yucca Valley), KRLV-FM (Las Vegas), KRAK-AM (Victorville) and KATY-FM (San Bernardino). Spanish broadcasts can be heard on XHFG-FM (San Diego).

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