Los Angeles Chargers: Behind Enemy Lines with Arrowhead Addict
By Matt Pagels
The Los Angeles Chargers (0-2) will host the Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) for the first time this season. I talked with Arrowhead Addict’s Matt Conner about the Chiefs’ performance thus far and what he expects in Sunday’s game.
The Chargers will look to get their first win of the season against a very good Chiefs team. What better way to get to know the enemy than by talking to them? Chiefs expert Matt Conner gives us his input.
Bolt Beat: Despite making the playoffs the last two seasons (including winning the AFC West title in 2016), some analysts thought Kansas City would take a step back in 2017. Now, the Chiefs are looking to go 3-0 for the first time since 2013 and are arguably the best team in the NFL. Why is this team so dangerous?
Arrowhead Addict: “They were always going to be this dangerous. They’re deeper than most teams at almost every position. They have great developmental prospects at every key position. They have impact Pro Bowl talent on both sides of the ball. Think about a team with the talent to lose their most popular player (Eric Berry) and still claim Marcus Peters and Justin Houston as elite-level (e.g. NFL’s best) performers along with a host of others like Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, Chris Jones, Bennie Logan, Ron Parker, etc.
“This is a team that has drafted incredibly well and came out on the positive end of 80% of all deals—trades and free=agent signings. That sort of front office acumen along with the tremendous coaching and continuity provided by Andy Reid makes for a team that’s not going anywhere in the AFC West.”
Bolt Beat: After the Chiefs traded up to draft QB Patrick Mahomes, it looked as if Alex Smith’s days were numbered. However, he has really shined through the first two weeks of the season. What’s different about this season’s Alex Smith compared to last season’s?
Arrowhead Addict: “Competition makes everyone better and last year was the first year we’d really seen a reticent Alex Smith. He stopped running for first downs (498 rushing yards in 2015 to 134 last year). He looked like he was more concerned about his long-term well-being off the field (who can blame him) and it led to a bit of a reserved performance. Bring in a phenom and you’re seeing a new quarterback. He’s still not running, but he’s taking more chances (or being more confident) in his downfield ability.”
Bolt Beat: There was a bit of panic when Spencer Ware went down with injury in the preseason. But Ware has been a distant memory ever since Kareem Hunt stepped onto the field and started dominating, scoring five total touchdowns in two games! Did you expect this kind of production early on from the third-round rookie?
Arrowhead Addict: “No one could have expected this. I just wrote something about this today saying Hunt has the chance to have the best rookie season ever under Andy Reid.”
Bolt Beat: The Chiefs’ defense has been dominant in the past. While they have playmakers like Justin Houston, Chris Jones and Marcus Peters, the Chiefs ranks 29th in total defense. Does the loss of Eric Berry (torn Achilles) have something to do with how they’re performing?
Arrowhead Addict: “Well they will give up the yardage for sure, or at least that’s how it’s been in the past. The Eagles just put up a ton of yards on the Chiefs and played them very close. I think it’s more of playing two of the NFL’s best (or better) teams than any huge weakness. Although the Chiefs’ defense clamps down in the end zone.”
Bolt Beat: If you had to pick the two best players on the team so far (one on offense and one on defense), who would they be and why?
Arrowhead Addict: “Alex Smith. Everything runs through him. There’s just no way around it. Justin Houston on the defensive side. When he’s truly healthy, he’s among the five best defenders in the NFL. He makes everyone’s job easier and you’re seeing that week by week.”
Bolt Beat: The Chiefs have won six in a row against the Chargers. Aside from one blowout game (Nov. 22, 2015), the rest have been relatively close contests. Does this game come down to the wire? And who comes away with the victory?
Arrowhead Addict: “Eric Berry is so good at taking out the opposition’s tight end (watch his work against Gronk in the season opener) and losing him makes me nervous for good reason. The Chargers have Henry and Gates, which is already near-impossible to defend, so not having that dependable shutdown safety option… that’s something I’d do my best to exploit if I’m Anthony Lynn.
“Because of that, I think it will be close and I think both Gates and Henry will play a major role. I don’t want to be a downer on a Chiefs team that looks like the class of the division, but this is scary for me. I’ll take the Chiefs with a final score of 21-17.”
To check out my answers to their questions, click HERE.