Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season kicks off for the Kansas City Chiefs as the San Diego Chargers come into Arrowhead. Last year, the Chiefs swept the Chargers by a combined score of 43-6. The Chiefs return most of their starters from last season, and the Chargers continue to look like a team in flux. With that said, let’s take a look at the matchups for the Chiefs.
Chiefs’ Offense vs. Chargers’ Defense
The Chargers allowed nearly 25 points per game last year, so do not expect them to provide much resistance to the Chiefs. Alex Smith should be able to be Alex Smith, managing the game and not making any huge mistakes. Given how anemic the Chargers’ pass rush is, Smith should have plenty of time to find wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce, as both are in line for big games. With how much time Smith should have to pass, expect the defense to be softened up for the running game.
Even without Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West proved they were serviceable backs. They may not put up huge numbers, but they should be able to keep the defense honest. Do not expect anything special from either back, as this will most likely be a two-back time share. Knile Davis could sneak in to steal a few carries as well.
As long as the Chiefs avoid long third downs and turning the ball over, they should have no problem with a very unimposing Chargers defense.
Chargers’ Offense vs. Chiefs’ Defense
People may forget, but the Chargers were rolling on offense in 2015 until wide receiver Keenan Allen went down for the season with a lacerated kidney. He is back and healthy, and Travis Benjamin was signed in the offseason so this offense could give the Chiefs headaches. Add in that the Chiefs will be sans Justin Houston and quarterback Philip Rivers could have a nice performance.
The key for the Chiefs here will be to make sure that Rivers does not have a clean pocket consistently. As long as KC keeps Rivers from setting his feet, the passing game should be relatively contained.
The player that could hurt the Chiefs throughout the game is running back Danny Woodhead. Coming out of the backfield for screens and dump offs, Woodhead creates mismatches no matter who is covering him. Keeping him in check will help to make sure that the Chiefs can keep Rivers and Co. off of the field.
The Chiefs will struggle early on for a bit, giving up an early touchdown, but will eventually find a rhythm. After the first quarter, it will be all Chiefs as they cruise to an easy win, 28-14.
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Feature photo courtesy of Jeffrey Beall.