Chiefs 2022 schedule preview, Week 2: Chargers
Week 2 will be the Kansas City Chiefs’ home opener as they host the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football.
The Chiefs and Chargers split their 2021 season series with both teams losing on their home turf. Kansas City won its seventh-straight AFC West title and Los Angeles finished third in the division at 9-8, barely missing the playoffs. The Chargers have responded to their disappointing 2021 campaign by having a very active offseason.
They wasted no time in giving receiver Mike Williams a three-year $60 million contract extension. Following that move, the Chargers bolstered their defense by trading for linebacker Khalil Mack and signing defensive linemen Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson. They didn’t stop there as they also signed all-pro cornerback J.C. Jackson a big five-year $82.5 million contract.
Los Angeles is loaded on both sides of the ball and has set itself up to be all-in on a Super Bowl run for the next few years. However, the Chargers have been a snake-bitten franchise and have come up short despite some impressive rosters over the years. A lot will be riding on the shoulders of second-year head coach Brandon Staley, who’s situational play calling was at the center of controversy a few times last season.
Let’s take a look at some of the Chargers’ key players and their outlooks heading into the regular season:
Quarterback Justin Herbert
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Herbert has been one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL since making his debut against the Chiefs in Week 2 of the 2020 season. He is 2-2 versus Kansas City in his career, although one of those victories came in a game where the Chiefs rested their starters.
Herbert finished second in the league in passing yards last season with 5,014. He’s also an underrated scrambler, having rushed for over 500 yards and eight touchdowns in his two years as a starter. Herbert will look to make the postseason for the first time in his career in 2022 and establish himself among the elite QBs in the NFL.
Running back Austin Ekeler
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The six-year veteran Ekeler is coming off his best season as a pro, rushing for 911 yards and tacking on 647 receiving yards. He also finished with 20 total touchdowns, a career-high by far. Ekeler is one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league.
Despite being a smaller back, he runs with great balance and elusiveness. The Chargers drafted running back Isaiah Spiller in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft to pair with Ekeler. Spiller might cut into Ekeler’s numbers a bit but should keep him fresh for the long haul.
Receiver Keenan Allen
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Allen has been on an incredible run, recording over 100 catches in four of his last five seasons. Last season he set a career-high with 106, also tacking on 1,138 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Allen has been selected to the Pro Bowl each of the last seasons. After missing a lot of time due to injury early on in his career, Allen has missed just two games in his last five seasons.
His work as a short-to-intermediate possession receiver is the perfect complement to Mike Williams’ downfield, big-play ability. Allen is one of the more unpopular AFC West players for Chiefs fans, often talking trash about the team, including as recently as this offseason.
Defensive end Joey Bosa
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Bosa has established himself as one of the top defensive ends in the NFL and is a force against both the run and the pass. He is a four-time Pro Bowler and has recorded double-digit sacks in four of his six NFL seasons.
In 2021 he recorded 10.5 sacks and a whopping seven forced fumbles. Bosa has shockingly never been selected as an all-pro, giving him something to strive for along with a Super Bowl ring.
Safety Derwin James
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James is coming off his second All-Pro season in 2021. He recorded a career-high 118 tackles along with two sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. He is one of the most complete safeties in the league and has a chance to put together a hall of fame career if he can stay healthy.
Staying healthy hasn’t been easy for James unfortunately. In 2019 he played in just five games due to foot surgery and he missed the entire 2020 season with a torn meniscus. The Chargers picked up James’ fifth-year option last offseason. If he’s to get a long-term contract, he may have to prove to stay healthy again in 2022.
Chargers' training camp storylines
AP Photo-Kyusung Gong
Los Angeles has a lot of new faces on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the front seven after finishing 29th in rushing defense. How quickly that unit gels will be a big factor in determining the Chargers’ success.
J.C. Jackson is a big addition to the secondary and should make a dynamic duo with fellow cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. Continuing with the secondary, the Chargers spent a third-round pick on safety JT Woods, who could challenge to be a starter opposite Derwin James. Woods is a well-rounded defensive back who can also play slot corner and inside linebacker.
After using a first-round pick on an offensive lineman in 2021, the Chargers did it again in 2022 by selecting guard Zion Johnson. Their offensive line was much improved last season, so it could be one of the best units in the NFL in 2022, but it still lacks a true answer at right tackle with Storm Norton and Trey Pipkins battling for the starting job. With all the playmakers Los Angeles has, the ability to keep Herbert clean in the pocket could be a scary sight for defenses.