Last week I wrote about the ways the Kansas City Chiefs could pressure the Philadelphia Eagles. As predicted, they went after Philadelphia’s cornerbacks downfield. They also shut down the Eagles’ designed run game. Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz accounted for 55 of his team’s 107 rushing yards. Apart from his scrambles, the Eagles didn’t have any ground production worth talking about.
Kansas City put the heat on Wentz in the second half of the game, pressuring him on most passing downs by blitzing a variety of players. The Chiefs got most of their 6 sacks in the second half. The constant pressure kept Wentz from throwing effectively and preserved the Kansas City win.
This Sunday the Chiefs will face the Chargers in Los Angeles. At 2-0, Kansas City cannot afford to drop their first divisional game—or any divisional game for that matter. With the team an early favorite for the Super Bowl, a loss to their worst division opponent would be crushing. Just as Kansas City found Philadelphia’s pressure points, here are some areas they must target to beat the Chargers.
The Chargers’ offensive line has been suspect in pass protection for several years. So far they have held up, only allowing two sacks in as many games. However, there hasn’t been a major change in Los Angeles’ unit up front from last year. Free agent signing Russell Okung gives the Los Angeles offensive line a boost of star power, but Chris Jones and the Chiefs’ defensive front should dominate at the line of scrimmage.
Arguably the best corner on the Chargers’ roster in the last handful of years is third-year-pro Jason Verrett. However, after a partial ACL tear last year, Verrett is still being worked back in. The Chargers don’t have any real cornerback depth behind veteran Casey Heyward. That being said, Heyward has a pass defensed and a fumble recovery so far this season. It’s unlikely that the Chargers will be able to cope with the stable of Kansas City receivers like Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, and Albert Wilson.
The Chiefs have a bevy of solid kick and punt returners, none more threatening than offensive weapon Tyreek Hill. With Hill covering punts, De’Anthony Thomas running back kicks, and the stellar blocking scheme of special teams coordinator Dave Toub, Kansas City will have no problem getting good field position. Punter Dustin Colquitt, in the meanwhile, will easily bail the Chiefs out if they get in a tight spot. Look for Kansas City to limit Los Angeles return yards with great coverage too.