6 things to watch in Chiefs’ Week 2 game vs. Chargers

·5 min read

The Kansas City Chiefs are playing at home for the first time during the 2022 NFL season, facing the Los Angeles Chargers on “Thursday Night Football.”

It’s a quick turnaround for both AFC West teams after they both came away with a victory in Week 1. There is a lot riding on this game as the winner will have sole possession of first place in the division.

Both teams have high-powered offenses with great quarterback play. The Chargers’ defense seems to be predicated on creating turnovers while the Chiefs’ defense is focused on getting the opposing offense behind the sticks. It should make for an exciting game filled with plenty of theatrics to kick off the Amazon Prime era of Thursday night games.

Here are six of the things we’ll be looking for during the course of the game:

Chiefs' offensive personnel usage

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

One of the biggest changes for the Chiefs’ offense in Week 1 was that they were more varied in their personnel groupings than in previous seasons. Our friend Doug Farrar at Touchdown Wire went into this in-depth and thinks that Kansas City could lean into their heavier offensive personnel groupings to get an advantage over the Chargers.

Some of the Chiefs’ most successful plays against the Chargers in Week 15 last season came out of 12 personnel and 22 personnel. For instance, Chiefs FB Michael Burton’s touchdown run:

Hopefully, the coaching staff in Kansas City has picked up on this and continues to attack what appears to be a clear weakness for Los Angeles.

How does Jaylen Watson hold up in coverage?

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Seventh-round rookie CB Jaylen Watson was the first player off the bench in Trent McDuffie’s injury absence and he was almost as dominant in coverage. In 25 coverage snaps, he was targeted twice. He had a third-down pass break-up against A.J. Green. He was also matched up against Marquise Brown in the slot and gave up a touchdown on the play.

Rest assured that Justin Herbert will know where the rookie is in coverage snap-to-snap and will test him often during the matchup. I think he’s going to have his moments in place of McDuffie, but he’s going to have his hands full with Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer and DeAndre Carter. 

Does Isiah Pacheco get more early-game opportunities?

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Pacheco finished Week 1 as the Chiefs’ leading rusher with 12 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown. Outside of a few snaps in the second quarter, the majority of Pacheco’s work came at the end of the game when Kansas City was just trying to bleed the clock. Will Pacheco get more work and earlier in the game this week?

It’s hard to argue that he wasn’t the team’s most explosive runner. He had runs of 11, 19 and 22 yards on Sunday against the Cardinals. McKinnon and Edwards-Helaire both had long runs of 18 yards. It’ll be interesting to see how they manage the backfield snaps moving forward, but no matter what this group looks to be well-balanced and deep.

Can Chiefs confuse Justin Herbert pre-snap?

AP Photo/Darryl Webb

In our trip behind enemy lines to speak with Chargers Wire, we asked them how they’d go about slowing down Justin Herbert. They mentioned that the coaching staff has said that Herbert needs to improve on his pre-snap reads and adjustments made in the run game and passing game. That showed up a bit in Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders apparently.

We’re going to get a bit of a battle of the wits between Herbert and Chiefs LB Nick Bolton on Thursday night. If Bolton, who wears the green dot for the defense, can get the team to present a certain way pre-snap, they might be able to trick Herbert into a bad play. Maybe he checks to a pass play when there is a called run and throws an interception. Every game where Herbert has thrown a pick against the Chiefs, he has lost the game.

How much do the Chiefs trust the kicking game?

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The Chiefs will be without veteran kicker Harrison Butker on “Thursday Night Football” after he suffered an ankle sprain in Week 1. As a result, they’ll be turning to former Jets K Matt Ammendola, who the team signed to the practice squad and are expected to elevate to the 53-man roster ahead of the game.

Kansas City isn’t unfamiliar with getting a kicker prepared on short notice after Butker sat for a week due to COVID-19 in 2021. However, this is an even shorter turnaround time for the Chiefs and Ammendola. He’s had just over two days to prepare and build chemistry on the fly with holder Tommy Townsend.

It’ll be interesting to see how much they trust Ammendola in a short period of time. Will this lead to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes being a bit more aggressive in fourth-down situations? Ammendola’s career-long field goal is 49 yards, but he’s only 13-of-19 on field goal attempts.

Can the Chiefs shut down Mike Williams?

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The Chargers’ biggest threat at the receiver position this week is Mike Williams. In his last three games against the Chiefs, Williams has 16 receptions for 379 yards and three touchdown receptions. Last week against the Raiders, who don’t have nearly as good of a defensive secondary as Kansas City, Williams was held to just two receptions for 10 yards on four targets.

Without Keenan Allen on the field, it feels like Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo will be able to do some things schematically to take Williams out of the picture. At the same time, there are going to be snaps where cornerbacks are left on an island against Williams. They need to win those one-on-one snaps if they’re to limit his success in Week 2.

Story originally appeared on Chiefs Wire