Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs preview: Prediction, matchups, how to watch, and more

Two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL will face off Thursday when Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs host Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers.

Early season bragging rights (not to mention first place in the loaded AFC West) are on the line Thursday night in Missouri when Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) host Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. Read on for a breakdown of the Chargers vs. Chiefs matchups, the key injuries, and game predictions from our NFL staff.

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs preview

The Chargers never lack talent. And they never lack drama. Eight months after they missed the playoffs on the very last play of the 2021 NFL regular season, they were in another stress-laden showdown with the rival Las Vegas Raiders to open 2022. Despite carrying a 14-point lead late into the third quarter, Chargers coach Brandon Staley had to sweat out another one.

The Raiders had the ball late with a chance to win, but LA’s defense held strong with back-to-back sacks (by stars Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack) to close it out. Herbert was excellent (26 of 34 for 279 yards, three touchdowns), but the Chargers struggled to run the ball (76 yards on 31 carries).

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Some 400 miles east, the Chiefs had no such agita. They dominated the Arizona Cardinals from the opening whistle, building a lead as large as 30 points before cruising to a 44-21 W. Mahomes didn’t seem to miss Tyreek Hill one bit. He threw for 360 yards and five touchdowns on 30 of 39 attempts to take the earliest of leads in the MVP race.

Travis Kelce went for 121 and a tuddy on eight catches, while newcomer JuJu Smith-Schuster added 79 yards on six. Steve Spagnuolo had his defense ready to go, limiting Kyler Murray and the Cardinals to 4.5 yards per play and 25% conversions on third downs.

How to watch

  • Date/Time
    Thursday, Sept. 15, 8:15 p.m. ET
  • Channel/Live stream
    Amazon Prime

Matchups

The Chargers played the Chiefs as well as any team not named the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021. Los Angeles won 30-24 at Arrowhead in Week 3 and then took Kansas City to overtime in mid-December, only to lose on a 34-yard walk-off touchdown pass from Mahomes to Kelce. The Chiefs lead the all-time series between these teams 65-58-1.

Los Angeles Chargers 2022 stats/rankings

  • Scoring: 24.0 (11th)
  • Yards: 355.0 (T-16th)
  • Yards per play: 5.5 (17th)
  • Passing: 279.0 (eighth)
  • Rushing: 76.0 (T-24th)
  • Defensive scoring: 19.0 (10th)
  • Yards allowed: 320.0 (12th)
  • Yards per play allowed: 5.7 (20th)
  • Pass defense: 256.0 (21st)
  • Rush defense: 64.0 (fourth)

Kansas City Chiefs 2022 stats/rankings

  • Scoring: 44.0 (first)
  • Yards: 488.0 (second)
  • Yards per play: 7.4 (first)
  • Passing: 360.0 (first)
  • Rushing: 128.0 (11th)
  • Defensive scoring: 21.0 (17th)
  • Yards allowed: 282.0 (ninth)
  • Yards per play allowed: 4.5 (sixth)
  • Pass defense: 179.0 (seventh)
  • Rush defense: 103.0 (T-16th)

Injuries to know

Los Angeles Chargers:
WR Keenan Allen (hamstring, out)
TE Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring, out)
CB J.C. Jackson (ankle, questionable)
CB Tevaughn Campbell (injured reserve)
LB Damon Lloyd (injured reserve)
DL Forrest Merrill (injured reserve)
T Andrew Trainer (injured reserve)
C Isaac Weaver (injured reserve)
TE Stone Smartt (non-football injury)

Kansas City Chiefs:
K Harrison Butker (ankle, out)
G Trey Smith (ankle, questionable)
CB Trent McDuffie (injured reserve)
TE Blake Bell (injured reserve)
WR Justyn Ross (injured reserve)
OL Lucas Niang (physically unable to perform)

Prediction

Betting line (courtesy of Caesars)
Chiefs -4; Chiefs -210, Chargers +175; O/U 54

Adam Beasley’s prediction
8-7-1 straight-up, 7-9 against the spread in 2022
Chargers 31, Chiefs 30

Dalton Miller’s prediction
8-7-1 straight-up, 8-8 against the spread in 2022
Chiefs 41, Chargers 10

Dallas Robinson’s prediction
8-7-1 straight-up, 6-10 against the spread in 2022
Chiefs 34, Chargers 28

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