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Chargers vs. Chiefs Week 2 Game Preview: Will a Chiefs RB be the X-factor on Thursday Night Football?

Justin Herbert vs. Patrick Mahomes. Who could ask for more in primetime?

Syndication: Arizona Republic Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Chiefs Week, baby!

This week, we reached out to our Kansas City sister site, Arrowhead Pride, to get some additional insight into this week’s opponent. A big thanks to Tom Childs for his help!

Heading into tomorrow night, the Chiefs are currently 4.5-point favorites at home over the Bolts, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

Let’s get into it.

1. The Chiefs ran through the Cardinals in week one like a hot knife through butter. Is that the type of offensive performance you expected despite the absence of Tyreek Hill? How much confidence does that breed in Patrick Mahomes and the offense knowing they can still score at will without their former top receiver?

We’re going to win the Super Bowl — how is that for confidence? I kid — week one isn’t the time to overreact.

But seriously, this might be the greatest offense of all time. This time I’m only half kidding.

Of course not having the power trio of Mahomes, Kelce and Hill together will take some getting used to, but I like how the post-Hill era has begun.

Now I know I sound crazy, but losing an alien like Tyreek Hill has forced the Chiefs’ hands. With variation now the key to KC’s success, we’re suddenly seeing a far more balanced attack with threats everywhere.

2.) Prior to this year, the most important question to ask when gameplanning against the Chiefs has always been, “How do you stop Tyreek Hill?” Now with Hill in Miami, has that question now firmly switched to stopping Travis Kelce? After week one, what other offensive player do you feel needs to be focused on in order to keep things close on Thursday?

‘Anti first-round running back Twitter’ is going to hate me for this... but I think the answer has be Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

When drafted, there was all of the talk about this Brian Westbrook-Esque running back that would excel in both the passing game and on the ground. And, for whatever reason, that has never materialised — much to the disappointment of Chiefs Kingdom.

But — and it’s a BIG BUT— then Sunday happened,,,

To fans of Austin Ekeler, 3 receptions for 32 yards and two scores is fairly pedestrian — but to us Chiefs fans, it is a clear progression. On Sunday we saw CEH in situations that we haven’t seen him in before, at least certainly not in KC: catching passes on late leaks; goalline receptions; outside zone runs! It was majestic.

I made a tongue-in-cheek comment on Twitter during the game that he actually looked like a first-round-worthy running back. I can honestly say that’s the first time I could say that confidently.

3.) We already know about players like Chris Jones and Justin Reid on defense. Are there any other Chiefs defenders that you feel deserve more love after week one? Is there an underrated player on the defense that you feel could play a big role in Thursday’s game?

I feel like the linebacker pair of WIllie Gay Jr. and Nick Bolton probably don’t get as much love as they deserve — especially Nick Bolton. Renowned as run stuffing gap-filler in college, there were concerns about how he would hold up in the passing game. Those concerns weren’t justified — or at least he hasn’t been found wanting so far. In his first year he led the Chiefs in tackles and has already earned the green dot (and trust) from Chiefs defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo.

Willie Gay Jr.’s path to a prominent role in the Chiefs defense has been a little more drawn out, but it’s been worth the wait. Gay’s speed and coverage ability has made him the ideal partner for Bolton. Their energy and leadership both on (and off) the field have installed these two players at the centerpieces of the Chiefs’ new-look, youthful defense.

4.) There’s been a lot of hype this offseason in regards to Isiah Pacheco. He was efficient against the Cardinals and even scored his first touchdown. Does it seem like he’s the future of the Chiefs backfield or is CEH still looking to be that guy? How do you see this backfield shaking out by the end of the season?

I’m still getting used to the guy running around in a #10 jersey not being Tyreek, I’m not going to lie.

As I eluded to in question #2, I am hoping that Sunday was a real turning point for Clyde’s Chiefs career. But that isn’t to say that there isn’t any room for Pacheco, either.

In his extremely short NFL career, he has done everything right: He’s followed his blocks — he has ran angry — and most importantly, he has been productive. There’s not a great deal more that could be expected from Isiah.

But until a single guy shows up enough that he can be an every-down guy, then there is no reason to think that the Chiefs won’t continue with the ‘running back by committee’ approach.

5.) Go ahead and give us a quick summary on how you see this game shaking out and top it all off with a final score prediction.

Having finally watched the Chargers win against the Raiders, I must admit I’m a bit worried. Not because of the defense — not because of Herbert (who I love by the way) — but the real reason I’m worried is Brandon Staley.

For him, it seemed a fairly passive game. After watching the Chargers last year, I was convinced that the Chargers would never punt again. Some would argue it’s smart football, others would argue it’s too risky. I won’t try and make up your mind for you.

My wider point here is that having played his cards so close to his chest against the Raiders, I firmly believe that the Chargers will revert to the mean and go Gung-Ho on Thursday night. My concern is that Andy Reid won’t fire with fire.

But seeing as I am on my own personal #AndyReidForCoachOfTheYear campaign, I am going to back Big Red & Co. A topsy turvy affair will be decided by whoever has the ball last — with the Chiefs coming out on top.

Chiefs 38 Chargers 35

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.