Can the Kansas City Chiefs break out of their slump? They’ve lost four of their last six games heading into their game with the Los Angeles Chargers, a game you can watch live on the Yahoo Sports app.
When Week 11 Monday Night Football kicks off in Mexico City, the 6-4 Chiefs will be no worse than tied for first in the AFC West with the Oakland Raiders, which of course is not a bad place to be, but probably not where many expected Kansas City to be, not record-wise.
The Chiefs are coming off a 12-4 record and an appearance in the AFC title game last year, where they fell to the eventual Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots.
Kansas City was without reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes for two of those six games after he suffered a dislocated kneecap on October 17 against the Denver Broncos. But the Chiefs won one of those two games, meaning they’re 1-3 in Mahomes’ last four starts, including last week’s road loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Healthy Mahomes will help retool
Having a healthy Mahomes can’t be a negative as Kansas City retools for the final weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs. And he was pretty much as we expect against the Titans, completing 72 percent of his passes for 446 yards with three touchdowns and no picks.
The Chiefs were up 29-20 with 12 minutes to play in the game but Ryan Tannehill — Ryan Tannehill! — led the Titans to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 23-yard pass to Adam Humphries with 29 seconds to play; Tannehill ran the 2-point conversion in himself.
Mahomes got the Chiefs into field-goal position in the little time remaining, but the field goal was blocked. The final score was 35-32.
Mahomes threw a season-high 50 passes in the game.
It was the fourth straight time Kansas City has lost to the Titans. Even in today’s NFL, with increased scoring, 32 points should be enough to win a game.
Kansas City’s defense is going to have to tighten up, especially against the run. Heading into Monday night, the Chiefs are 31st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (1,481 in nine games) and 30th in yards per carry allowed (5.0).
If the Chiefs are going to challenge New England and the Baltimore Ravens for a first-round bye, it’s going to be a tough road, at least in the short term: Kansas City lost its last matchup with the Chargers, last December, though it had won nine straight before that; after a Week 12 bye, the Chiefs play the Raiders and travel to play the Patriots.
Chargers trying to bounce back from bad start
The Chargers, sitting at 4-6, are also a disappointment this season. After winning their regular season opener, they lost five of six games. But back-to-back wins against Chicago and Green Bay gave Los Angeles some life before last week’s road loss to the Raiders.
Similar to Kansas City last week, the Chargers held the lead late, but Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs had an 18-yard scoring run with just over a minute to play.
Philip Rivers had eight consecutive incomplete passes on Los Angeles’ final possession (a fourth down penalty on Oakland’s Trayvon Mullen gave the Chargers a fresh set of downs), culminating with an interception. It was the third turnover of the game for the offense.
The Chargers are once again hamstrung by injuries — they have 13 players on injured reserve, eight of them on offense — and on Sunday standout tackle Russell Okung, who missed the first half of the season as he recovered from a pulmonary embolism, was downgraded to doubtful.
Their defense, particularly against the pass, has been strong.
Estadio Azteca will be ready this year
One not-insignificant storyline for Monday night: by all accounts Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca is ready to go. Last year, the planned Chiefs-Los Angeles Rams game had to be moved to the Los Angeles Coliseum at the last minute because of concerns over the field conditions.
But stadium officials, with help from the NFL, have made a concerted effort to make sure conditions would be good this year.
In the spring, Estadio Azteca hired a league-recommended field consultant, installed a new pipe drainage system, sand gravel base, irrigation system and sod.
The facility hasn’t hosted a concert in a few months, and the last soccer game played on the surface was November 2.
Last year, soccer games, concerts and heavy rains made the field unplayable.
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