The Kansas City Chiefs face their first divisional game in week three as they take on the Los Angeles Chargers. Although the teams have opposite records after two games, this contest will be close and hard-fought more so than most think.
Here are four keys for the Kansas City Chiefs in week 3.
Stopping Keenan Allen
It’s not easy to forget these teams’ first meeting in 2016. While the combat was successful and resulted in a Chiefs win, the battle was hard fought in the passing game. On the day Marcus Peters gave up five completions on seven targets. Four those targets went to Keenan Allen who made all four receptions for 34 yards.
The continuation of this one-on-one battle should be the marquee matchup of the day. Just like in 2016, the Chargers are using Allen on a high volume of crossing routes in 2017. As we see from the next gen stat on his route tree, there are few vertical routes. Look for the Chiefs to employ a robber or similar concept to cut off routes across the middle.
Creating space for Hunt
Los Angeles has a highly-touted pair of edge rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. The interior of the defense is not as highly acclaimed. After 2 weeks the Chargers defense is ranked 26th in the league against the Run. They are allowing an average of 126 yards per game.
The Chiefs face a new obstacle in generating rushing yards in week 3. Center Mitch Morris is out with an ankle injury and the Chiefs will start Zach Fulton in his place. The Chargers defense offers the Chiefs of a chance to get off to a good start in the running game. Expect hunts to eclipse 100 yards on the ground.
Making Rivers do the work
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has had a slow start to the season. While he is only gathered 67 yards rushing in two games, he is always a threat. To this point, the Chiefs have stood up well in defending the Run. To win against Los Angeles that has to continue.
The Chiefs will need to force the Chargers to throw often. The prime targets in the passing game beyond Allen will be Tight Ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. Eric Murray and Dan Sorensen will be key in keeping Phillips Rivers favorite receivers from getting hot early. Expect them to give ground, but play solid enough for the pass rush to take over in the second half.
Take the deep shots with Alex Smith
The Chiefs passing game has gotten off to a very effective start the 2017 season. The Chargers, on the other hand, have struggled to stop the pass. In addition, the Chargers will be without starting corner Jason Verrett, who will be out with an injury. While the team does still have Casey Hayward on the opposite side, the Chargers defense can be exploited through the air.
Kansas City will have ample opportunity to attack Verrett’s replacement Trevor Williams. In addition, the team starts rookie Desmond King in the nickel cornerback position. King has given up an 83% percent completion rate and a 100+ QB rating to opposing quarterbacks in two games. Look for quick throws early and play action in the second half from Alex Smith to attack the rookie.
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