At this very moment, as I type these words, actual, real football is just over 24 hours away.
It’s finally here. We made it, friends.
The week one draw of the Kansas City Chiefs could be a positive or a negative, depending on how you view it. If you view it as an opportunity to start the year off on a high-note with the first win against the Chiefs in four years, than you might be loving it. If you see the match-up likely leading to an inevitable 0-1 start to 2018, than I’m sure you’re feeling pretty anxious at the moment.
BUT FEAR NOT, COMRADES! OVERWHELMING AND IRRATIONAL POSITIVITY WILL BRING YOU THROUGH IT! (eye noticeably twitches)
It’s time to take a look at three things I’ll personally be watching for during the opening contest against a hated divisional rival.
1.) Am I ready to watch Patrick Mahomes II a.k.a “the one that got away” try and carve up the Chargers’ defense?
In the months leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, the entire BFTB staff fell madly in love with the absolute gun-slinger out of Texas Tech University. Patrick Mahomes razzled and dazzled fans and scouts alike with his natural arm talent his uncanny ability to pull out incredible angles in his throws.
To those who studied him, it looked like this kid was just out there playing NFL Street Vol. 3 ( I miss that game so much.) It was far too easy to imagine an era of Chargers football post-Rivers where number 15 could be seen week-in and week-out throwing dime after dime behind Forrest Lamp for the next ten years.....
(Que the longest sigh you’ve ever heard)
Unfortunately, things did not play out in our favor. In fact, it’s not just that he wasn’t drafted by the Chargers, he was the fact he was drafted by THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AND WE GET TO SEE HIM TWICE A YEAR FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE!
Woe is us, Charger fans.
In all seriousness, as much as we wish him the best in his career, I wouldn’t mind if he just decided to s*** the bed during both match-ups with the Bolts this year. But with Andy Reid still coaching the Chiefs, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the young quarterback resemble a seasoned vet when he takes the field on Sunday in Costa Mesa.
As good as Andy Reid has coached against the Chargers in recent years, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Reid has already found out how to get the most out of his young quarterback.
With the plethora of weapons at Mahomes’ disposal, guys like Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa need to get to the quarterback quick and often if the Chargers hope to disrupt this Chiefs offense.
And speaking of offensive weapons...
2.) Will the Chargers be able to contain an explosive offense that now adds another play-maker in WR Sammy Watkins?
During the 2017 season, the Kansas City Chiefs boasted a top-2 tight end in Travis Kelce, one of the fastest players in the league in WR Tyreek Hill, and the NFL’s rushing leader in Kareem Hunt.
Now add in Sammy Watkins, a former first-round wide receiver who is coming off a year with the Los Angeles Rams where he enjoyed somewhat of a “resurgence”. He didn’t explode for a ton of yards but he was quite efficient with his catches on top of playing in 15 of the 16 games, last year (starters sat out the finale).
He recorded a very respectable 39-593-8 stat line while working in an offense that liked to spread the love as much as possible.
But now he joins an offense that’s much more well-rounded than his Bills teams and more complete than the one he was in with the Rams.
Will this spell out a more productive season for Watkins? It might, as the Chiefs are also devoid of a true number one wide receiver while also lacking the same depth at receiver as the Rams.
At the end of the day, I believe the Chargers match-up favorably well to the current lineup for the Chiefs.
No one will be fast enough to keep up with Hill in a straight line but the Chargers do have enough versatility in the front seven to throw a ton at the young quarterback, hoping to cause some frustration and hurried throws.
Guys like LB Kyzir White and SCB Desmond King will look to handle coverage of Kelce out of the slot while the talented cornerback duo of Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams will look to smother Watkins and Hill.
This match-up has some serious potential to be a fireworks show or a real barn burner. For all of our sakes, I hope it is the former.
3.) How will Philip Rivers handle the Chiefs’ defense without the likes of CB Marcus Peters and, potentially, S Eric Berry?
Last season, outside of the two contests against the Chiefs, Philip Rivers had himself quite the year tossing around the old pigskin. He threw for 28 touchdowns and was second in the NFL, behind only Tom Brady, with 4,515 passing yards. He also only threw 10 total interceptions all season, but here’s the kicker: 6 of those 10 interceptions came against the Chiefs. More specifically, three of those six picks were to Peters, who is now with the Los Angeles Rams.
And I know Peters was just one man, but if there was anyone on the Chiefs defense with Rivers’ number, it was him.
Kansas City has also made it known in the last few days that there is a possible scenario where Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry may not suit up on Sunday due to a nagging injury that was simply deemed “heel soreness”.
Add in the fact that the defense also lost a veteran in LB Derrick Johnson and the unit that trots out to confront Rivers and Co. might be the least-intimidating Chiefs group that #17 has seen in some time.