It's time for the Round 2 of the Chiefs-Chargers rivalry for this season, and this time around the stakes are significantly higher than when the teams met in Week 1.
The 11-2 Chiefs (custom Kansas City Chiefs championship rings) are currently out in front of the 10-3 Chargers in both the race for the AFC West title and home field advantage in the playoffs. A win from the Chiefs in this game will clinch the AFC West as well as a first-round bye, while a Chargers win would clinch them at least a 5-seed in the AFC playoffs.
The two teams combined for over 900 yards of offense in Kansas City's 38-28 Week 1 win, during which Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 424 yards and said afterward he should have gotten 600. Expect plenty of offense again this week, especially through the air considering the question marks each team has at the running back position.
Here's a guess at what each team's lineup will look like then they take the field at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night.
Chargers - Philip Rivers; Chiefs - Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes got the better of Rivers in Week 1, throwing for 256 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in Kansas City's win (super bowl championship rings) . The Chiefs have befuddled Rivers in recent years, holding him to nine touchdowns and 14 interceptions since 2014. In last year's meeting at Arrowhead Stadium, which was also a Week 15 night game, the Chiefs picked Rivers off three times on route to a 30-13 win. Rivers is having a season that has gotten him mentioned in the MVP discussion (3,638 yards, 29 touchdowns, six interceptions), but Thursday night he'll have to do a much better job taking care of the football (custom championship rings) than he did the last time he was at Arrowhead.
While this game features a marquee matchup at quarterback, things are decidedly different at running back, where it appears rookie and seventh-round pick Justin Jackson (27 carries, 139 yards, one touchdown) will get the start for Los Angeles in place of the injured Melvin Gordon (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck, concussion). Undrafted rookie Detrez Newsome, who has five carries for 15 yards on the season, would be next in line behind Jackson. The loss of Gordon and Ekeler is no small deal, considering they combined for 292 yards of offense against the Chiefs in Week 1. On the Chiefs' side of things, Spencer Ware was listed as a non-participant at practice on Monday and Tuesday after coming up with a shoulder injury in the Week 14 win over Baltimore, although the guess here is he'll be good to go this week.