Happy Sunday, Bolts From the Blue. We have our second divisional game today, facing off against a Chiefs team that's sitting at 5-1 despite not looking a little more sluggish than normal on the offensive side of the ball. Can the Chargers capitalize on their division rivals as they struggle to find key complimentary pieces around Travis Kelce, or will the Bolts stumble again and fall to 2-4?
Michael Peterson: I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse about a pending matchup with the Chiefs. These games have always been tight and incredibly entertaining, but that has usually been due to both teams having middling defenses that the opposing offense could take advantage of.
But not this time.
The Chiefs finally have a defense to complement their elite offense. They’re ranked fifth in total defense, fifth in total passing yards allowed, and second in points allowed per game. That’s a heck of a unit to have playing on the other side to Patrick Mahomes an Travis Kelce.
I’ll just be honest here. Even if Herbert has a bounce-back effort after his Cowboys performance, I’m not all that confident in the defense. I foresee Andy Reid attempting to pick on the defensive players who have struggled to play cleanly each week and I won’t be surprised to see multiple automatic first downs handed out.
Derwin James is hobbled which gives me even less confidence that Travis Kelce won’t have another monster stat line. I don’t know what it is, but the Chargers struggle immensely when attempting to tackle him in place.
While this might be entertaining at times, I don’t see the Chargers shocking the world today.
Final Score: Chiefs 27-17
Kyle DeDiminicantanio: The Chargers typically play their best football against the Chiefs, as the Bolt defense is basically tailored to meet the Chiefs strengths head on. However, this season feels a bit different. Corey Linsley is a huge loss when facing off against a team whose best defender is a game-wrecking defensive tackle. I expect Chris Jones to have an exceptional game, clogging the interior running lanes and collapsing the pocket on passing downs. Whether Herbert can recreate his Minnesota magic will likely determine how far this team goes today - recreating the running game with underneath routes to Derius Davis and Quentin Johnston would go a long, long way in this game.
If the Bolts do manage to beat the Chiefs, and bring themselves to 2-0 against divisional opponents, they're right back in the hunt for the division title. Bouncing back with a statement win keeps the season's hopes alive, but I have a very difficult time counting on that happening. It feels more likely that the Justin Herbert gets forced into playing hero ball, but the offensive chemistry isn't gelling enough to keep up with the Chiefs for four quarters.
Final Score: Chiefs win 27-21
There are so many reasons to think this is going to follow the normal AFC West matchup we have seen for the past five years. Our Chargers have been disappointing so far and the Chiefs have been dominant despite not playing their best. But this is a divisional game and all form goes out of the window. The Bolts have not had a pass rush this playing at this level when facing Mahomes in previous years and I think it's going to make the difference! Derwin is a game time decision and he'll do another fine job at slowing down Travis Kelce (he is impossible to stop completely) but if not the Chargers went and got Eric Kendricks with these games in mind and I trust he'll be locked in if required.
Herbert hasn't been at his elite best either but if there's anything that lights a fire in him it is doubters; I think he'll come out swinging and make amends for what will likely be another bad day running the ball.
Logic doesn't work with these games so I'm going to ignore the money line odds, ignore the spread and back the season to be saved with a statement victory.
Final Score: Chargers 24-21