(CBSLA)- The Chargers got the victory in Week 1, albeit with a bit of luck, 16-13 over the Cincinnati Bengals as Cincy kicker Randy Bullock missed a 31-yard field goal wide right. Still, a win is a win, and the Chargers enter their Week 2 matchup with the division rival Kansas City Chiefs 1-0.
The Chargers dropped both matchups against Kansas City last season though they were close, 24-17 in Week 11 and 31-21 in Week 17. The biggest problem in each of those games was turnovers. Philip Rivers threw four picks in the first matchup and another two in the final game of the year. Rivers threw two picks late in the fourth quarter of the Week 11 contest that cost the team any chance of tying the game. And in Week 17, Rivers’ pick on 2nd and 3 from the Kansas City 28 cost a shot at a field goal that would have tied the game at 10 headed to halftime.
Rivers is now in Indianapolis and Tyrod Taylor stepped into the starting QB role for Week 1. While Taylor’s numbers were fairly unimpressive (16-30 for 208 yards), the thing he does best is avoid turnovers. Does that come at the expense of taking some risks that could pay off in big plays? Sure. But, against Kansas City, avoiding giving their high octane offense more opportunities to score is always good.
Pair that with a defense that, despite all of its injuries, played Kansas City well last season. Two of Mahomes’ three worst quarterback ratings of the season came against the Chargers. He completed 35 of 57 passes (61.4%) but for just 356 yards total across the two games with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The defense should be well equipped to try and repeat that performance in this one. They harassed Joe Burrow in Week 1, sacking him three times, hitting him four and forcing an interception on a scramble outside of the pocket. The Chiefs offensive line is a far better unit than that of the Bengals so it’s unlikely the same level of pressure will apply but, with the trio of Chris Harris, Casey Heyward and Desmond King, L.A. appears to be equipped to match up with the Chiefs receivers. The real question comes in handling Travis Kelce and the Chiefs newly improved running game with Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
But, the biggest question in this matchup is whether the Chargers will be able to match the Chiefs scoring explosiveness. Taylor is likely to avoid turnovers, but as mentioned before, he didn’t really put much pressure on a sketchy Bengals secondary in Week 1. How they attack the Chiefs will be interesting to watch.
Heading into Sunday’s matchup, the Chargers are 8.5 point underdogs at home in their first game at So-Fi Stadium. CBS Denver sports anchor Michael Spencer agrees.
“How can you go against the Chiefs right? Especially given the fact that they got extra rest. They looked really good in that Thursday night opener against the Houston Texans. Their offense seemed to pick up right where it left off after the Super Bowl. And I think they maybe got even better with the addition of Clyde Edwards-Helaire,” said Spencer. “The Chiefs are every bit as dominant as they were last year at least they were in Week 1. I expect that to be the case in Week 2 and I’m going with K.C. to beat the Chargers.”