The Kansas City Chiefs will play in their home opener and have their first major test of the 2022 season on Thursday night. That test comes against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Chiefs Kingdom is on cloud nine after the total dominance of the Arizona Cardinals in Week One. Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and the rest of the Chiefs’ offense looked like they were playing Madden on the rookie level. The defense had the highest pressure rate in the league and made Kyler Murray look like he hadn’t studied game film since high school. We even lost our kicker and our starting safety made an extra point and bombed kick-offs through the uprights. It’s impossible to play a more perfect game.
Thursday night will not be as easy as Sunday was. Justin Herbert is far superior to Murray in every way. It doesn’t matter how much pressure the Chiefs get on Herbert, he will not choke the way Murray did. The Chargers also bring a supporting cast for Herbert that is considered top three in the league. Austin Ekeler is one of the best dual threats in the league. Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and DeAndre Carter are a deep and solid wide receiving core. The offensive line is better than its been in the last couple of years, but it is still vulnerable.
Defensively the Chargers bring talent that the Chiefs are unlikely to see again this season. A great pass-rushing duo in Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. Mack is not what he used to be, but his two sacks against the Raiders in week one proved he can still get the job done. The secondary is going to be a challenge with two shutdown corners in J.C. Jackson and Asante Samuel Jr. Derwin James is the biggest challenge for the Chiefs as he has been the only player in the NFL that has shown the ability to shut down Travis Kelce one on one.
The Chiefs And Chargers Face Injury Woes In Week Two
Unfortunately for both the Chiefs and the Chargers, their injury list has not been kind following the opening week. The Chargers have already ruled out Keenan Allen and it appears unlikely that J.C. Jackson will play. On the Chiefs side, they are down their first overall draft pick, cornerback Trent McDuffie and kicker Harrison Butker.
Allen and McDuffie being out offset their impact away from the game. It would be a huge boost for the Chiefs if Jackson doesn’t play, or even if he plays but is on a play count. With the pass rush the Chargers have, the Chiefs will need their receivers to get open and get open early.
Butker has the potential to be a major loss for the Chiefs depending on how the game plays out. The Chiefs signed Matt Ammendola who will be kicking Thursday night. Ammendola is in his third year in the NFL having played for the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, and Houston Texans prior to signing with the Chiefs this week.
He hasn’t been good, going 13 for 19 on field goals. But he is a better option if the game is close than Justin Reid. But the team will have far from the same confidence in him as they had in Butker, which could lead to some more aggressive playing calling on third down and going for it on fourth. The Chiefs just hope the game doesn’t come down to a 50-yard kick with three seconds left to tie or win the game.
The Chiefs Have Arrowhead Ready For A Show On Thursday Night
The great X factor in this, of course, is Arrowhead Stadium. Thursday night is the Chiefs’ home opener, which is always a big deal. Even more so, the Chiefs are also going over the top with a retro look to the field and singers for the first NFL game on Amazon Prime. The team’s retro look is set to celebrate 50 years of Arrowhead Stadium.
I fully expect tailgating to start outside of Arrowhead right about sunrise Thursday morning. Primetime, home opener, retro field, and against a division rival, to say it will be loud Thursday night is an understatement. It will be a playoff-like atmosphere for a team like the Chargers who haven’t seen the playoffs, it will be interesting to see how they handle it.
This is a matchup of two of the top four teams in the AFC on national primetime TV. It will be a slugfest from the opening kickoff. Neither team is going to run away with an easy win. It will come down to the fourth quarter and who makes the fewest mistakes. Who can step up at the moment versus who will fold under the pressure? There are a lot of questions heading into Thursday night, by 11:00 pm central we will have a lot of answers and I think those will look favorably on the Chiefs’ side.