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Chiefs-Chargers focus points: Will Kansas City’s run-pass ratio continue?

On this week’s game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we talked about three points on offense — and three on defense — to watch as the world champion Kansas City Chiefs face a divisional rival in their first game in a new stadium — the Los Angeles Chargers. Here are the story lines on both sides of the ball.

Offense

Will the run/pass ratio continue?

The Chiefs operated with a more run-heavy script than we’re accustomed to the last few years — even before the game was out of hand. The Chiefs finished the day with more rushing attempts (34) than passing (33) in their victory in Week 1 against the Houston Texans. There is concern from some that Andy Reid will break years of his play call trends and start handing the football off more — getting the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands. We’ll double the sample size of the 2020 season at the end of Week 2 and have a better feel for how this team is attacking offensively.

Solving the Chargers defense

The Chargers defense has been tough on Mahomes-led offenses the last three games. Some of his lowest passing outputs have been against the divisional foe. Where the Texans were focused on taking away explosive plays from the Chiefs — Gus Bradley has been largely successful in doing so the last three times these teams have matched up. Mahomes may have to be patient again this week — but if he and the offense are operating at the same level of efficiency as last week, points are going to be scored.

Protecting Mahomes

The Chargers don’t have a ton going for them right now, but they do have one of the better defensive lines in football. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are a great group on the edges — and second-year defensive lineman Jerry Tillery had a great start to his sophomore campaign. The defensive line will present challenges for an offensive line that has had problems with this group in the past. If they can hold on, the Chiefs can generate some explosive plays down the field.

Defense

Wide receivers vs. cornerbacks

Keenan Allen and Mike Williams present different kinds of problems at wide receiver. Allen is a versatile, talented route runner who operates all over the field. Williams is one of the premier big-bodied, jump-ball receivers in the game. The Chiefs are likely to be short-handed this week at cornerback with Charvarius Ward’s potential absence. Rookie L’Jarius Sneed and Rashad Fenton will have a big challenge in week two.

Capitalizing on a shaky offensive line

Center Mike Pouncey will miss the remainder of the season with a hip injury — forcing an already depleted offensive line to scramble again. Sam Tevi, Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney will start at left tackle, left guard and center. Expect Frank Clark and Chris Jones to have a field day against this group — especially Clark lining up against Tevi.

Testing the linebackers

The linebacking corps will be stressed this week in a variety of ways — running backs out of the backfield in the passing game, in space in the run game and a mobile quarterback. Week 1 did not yield great results for the linebackers — overrunning plays, inability to change direction in space and struggles in coverage. It will be fascinating to see how much of a leash a player like Ben Niemann has considering there’s a talented top-65 pick from last year’s draft in Willie Gay waiting in the wings.

Is this the week we finally see the talented rookie? We’ll find out.


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