Chiefs opponent preview, Week 17: Scouting the Chargers

Talon Graff
·8 min read

In a Week 17 contest that has zero effect on what happens with the playoff seedings, the Kansas City Chiefs’ depth players will be motivated for the opportunity to be in the spotlight. A good way to end the season for Kansas City is to see how much talent has been sitting and waiting behind the stars on the Chiefs. It is their time to shine against a Los Angeles Chargers team that has been on a run as of late.

Here is everything you need to know about the Chargers for Week 17.

Chiefs vs. Chargers History

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

This originally appeared in our Week 2 scouting report The two rivals have played a total of 121 times and so far the Chiefs hold a slim lead with 64 wins to only 56 losses and the two teams tied once in 1965. The Chiefs have only lost one time to the Chargers in the last 13 meetings and that was a late-game one-point victory. The series began back in 1960 and since then there have been multiple relocations with the Chargers originating in Los Angeles and then moving to San Diego and then back to L.A. while the Chiefs derived from the Dallas Texans before setting up shop in Kansas City and rebranding themselves as the Chiefs.

Marquee Additions / Losses

AP Photo/Kyusung Gong

This originally appeared in our Week 2 scouting report

Chargers Additions

  • QB Justin Herbert

  • OT Bryan Bulaga

  • HB Joshua Kelley

  • DT Linval Joseph

  • LB Kenneth Murray

  • LB Nick Vigil

  • CB Chris Harris, Jr

Chargers Losses

  • QB Philip Rivers

  • HB Melvin Gordon

  • C Mike Pouncey

  • LB Thomas Davis

  • S Adrian Phillps

  • S Jaylen Watkins

  • S Derwin James

Chargers Coaching Schemes

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

This originally appeared in our Week 2 scouting report Anthony Lynn is in his fourth season as the head coach for the Bolts and in his first three seasons, he has led the team to only one playoff appearance which came after a 12-4 season in 2018. He bookended his playoff season with a 9-7 finish in 2017 and an ugly 5-11 record in 2019. Lynn had a brief but successful NFL career that lasted six seasons but he was a part of two Super Bowl squads. His career background is a rare one as he only has 175 rushing yards for his career but walked away with two rings after being a member of the 1997 and 1998 Denver Broncos. A year after retiring as a player in 1999, he joined the Broncos as staff as a special teams assistant until 2002. Between 2003 and 2014, he served as the running backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, and the New York Jets. He was promoted to assistant head coach for the Jets in 2013 before leaving for the same title with the Bills in 2015. Following the firing of Rex Ryan at the end of the 2016 season, Lynn coached one game for the Bills as interim head coach. He was named the head coach of the Chargers in January of 2017 and has been with them ever since. Shane Steichen has spent been with the Chargers organization for his entire NFL coaching career, which started in 2011, other than a brief stint with the Browns in 2013 as their offensive quality control coach. He has served as the quarterback coach since 2016 and took over the offensive coordinator duties in 2019 following the firing of Ken Whisenhunt. The strength of the Chargers has been on the defensive side of the pigskin with Gus Bradley being in charge of the unit since 2017. Bradley has a nice coaching resume, having been a defensive coordinator or a head coach since 2009. Bradley spent time in Seattle as their defensive coordinator but left to become the head coach in Jacksonville in 2013, the same year the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. Under Bradley, the Chargers finished the 2018 and 2019 seasons ranked in the top ten for yards allowed. The Chargers use a hybrid defense that is a blend of a 3-4 and a 4-3 and lots of Cover 3 looks, utilizing a heavy pass rush and a strong rotation along the defensive line to try and use pressure to create turnovers.

Key Players for the Chargers

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This originally appeared in our Week 2 scouting report

QB Justin Herbert

The rookie who got his first career start in Week 2 against the Chiefs, has been on a tear ever since. He enters Week 17 with 4,034 passing yards, 28 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions, and has run in four additional scores. One of the favorites to end the season as the Offensive Rookie of the Year.

WR Keenan Allen

Forer Cal Bear Keenan Allen is coming off three straight Pro Bowl seasons. He went over 1,100 receiving yards in 2017, 2018, and 2019 and caught six touchdowns in each of those seasons. However, the Chiefs have held him in check, the last time Allen eclipsed 100 yards against the Chiefs was Week 1 of the 2018 season. In fact, Allen has only two 100-yard games against Kansas City in his career, once in 2013 and the aforementioned 2018 season-opener. He has caught a touchdown in the previous two games but only has three total against the Chiefs. Allen currently leads the Chargers with 100 receptions, 992 receiving yards, and eight touchdown catches.

HB Austin Ekeler

Austin Ekeler takes over for the current Denver Bronco Melvin Gordon as the lead running back. Ekeler has had some big games in his career due to his ability to catch the ball. This is the first season he will be the primary back and in his career against Kansas City, he has been much more threatening as a pass-catcher than a runner. In the previous three meetings that Ekeler was available, he has 22 catches for 238 yards and a touchdown. While on the ground he has 19 carries for 109 yards and has never scored a rushing touchdown against the Chiefs. The Chargers do have Joshua Kelley who was drafted out of UCLA in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Kelley shared the workload with Ekeler against Cincinnati and was able to crank out 60 yards on 12 carries and was responsible for the only touchdown on the day for the Bolts.

TE Hunter Henry

The talented fifth-year tight end has been injury-plagued for the majority of his career. He missed time in 2017 due to a knee injury and missed all of the 2018 season after tearing his ACL in an offseason practice session. In 2019, he missed five weeks due to another knee issue. He finished 2019 with 652 yards and five touchdowns. Over six career games against the Chiefs, he has 19 catches for 202 yards and two touchdown catches.

CB Chris Harris, Jr

After nine seasons in Denver, Chris Harris, Jr joined the Chargers on a two-year deal and forms an imposing cornerback tandem with Casey Hayward. In his career, he has been voted to three pro bowls and was named an All-Pro after his performance in the 2016 season. He is one of the more familiar foes the Chiefs have faced having played his entire career within the AFC West. In 18 career games, Harris has one interception which occurred during the 2015 season. He has struggled against the Chiefs lately allowing three touchdown catches over their last four encounters.

Key Matchups for Week 17

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Chad Henne vs. Chargers Defense

Veteran quarterback Chad Henne will get his first start since 2014, so there is not much to go on in terms of what to expect. The Chargers are without Joey Bosa so that is one thing Henne doesn't need to be concerned with. He'll still need to execute an offense that is cater-made for Patrick Mahomes.

Mecole Hardman vs. Chris Harris

Assuming that Mecole Hardman will be getting plenty of reps in Week 17, he will be seeing Chris Harris across the field. Harris is the top defensive back for the Bolts and will be a good measuring stick. I am eager to see if the former Georgia Bulldog can step up in the absence of Hill and Kelce.

Darwin Thompson vs. Ball Security

Time may be running out for Thompson to redeem himself in the eyes of the Chiefs coaching staff. The second-year running back has not seen much field time after dealing with ball security issues early in the season. WIth Clyde Edwards-Helaire out, Le'Veon Bell banged up, and Darrell Williams most likely getting a light workload, Thompson needs to show he is trustworthy and still a possible contributor.

Overview

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

In the grand scheme of things the outcome of this game doesn't matter but don't tell that to the players taking the field. Just because the Chiefs have secured the first-round bye doesn't mean the backups and reserve players don't have something to prove. A golden opportunity to display their talents to show they can hang in the NFL. The Chargers will not roll over though and are attempting to finish their own season in a positive light.