Chargers-Kansas City Chiefs matchups, how to watch and prediction

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes against the Chargers on Sept. 15, 2022.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped Kansas City beat the Chargers 27-24 on Sept. 15, but he will be without injured receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman on Sunday night.
(Ed Zurga / Associated Press)

Breaking down how the Chargers (5-4) and the Kansas City Chiefs (7-2) match up heading into their game at 5:20 p.m. PST on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game will be shown on NBC (Ch. 4) and streamed on Peacock and NFL+.


When Chargers have the ball

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert runs away from 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa on Nov. 13, 2022.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert runs away from 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) during San Francisco’s 22-16 win. The expected returns of receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams figure to boost the Chargers.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

Coming off a miserable second half last weekend in a 22-16 loss at the San Francisco 49ers, the Chargers are looking to rebound against a defense that has given up only two touchdowns apiece to each of its last three opponents.


When the Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs met in Week 2, Justin Herbert passed for 334 yards and three touchdowns, but the Chargers still lost. That night included a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown by Chiefs cornerback Jaylen Watson.

The Chargers almost certainly will need similar production from Herbert as their running game continues to lag. They have been limited to 91 or fewer yards on the ground in eight of their nine games. Kansas City ranks fifth in the NFL in stopping the run.

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Another bad statistical pairing for the Chargers comes inside the 20-yard line. The Chargers are 24th in red zone production, scoring touchdowns on only 51.5% of their visits. The Chiefs are second in the NFL at 74.5%. Settling for field goals is typically not a way to beat Kansas City and dynamic quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

On the plus side for the Chargers, the Chiefs have only eight takeaways, while the Chargers have turned the ball over five times in their last three games.


When Chiefs have the ball

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce runs past Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) on Sept. 15, 2022.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce tries to elude Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson on Sept. 15.
(Ed Zurga / Associated Press)

The Chargers reached the end zone just once last weekend against the 49ers. When they visited San Francisco in Week 7, the Chiefs scored six touchdowns. Mahomes threw for 423 yards that day and had a rating of 132.4, his eighth highest for a game.

All that sounds rather daunting given what Herbert and the Chargers’ offense just went through against the 49ers.

“He’s one of the special players in the game, but he’s still at the beginning,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said of Mahomes. “There is still, hopefully, a lot of years of him playing this game. He’s great for the league.”

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Kansas City will be without wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) and Mecole Hardman (abdomen). But Mahomes still has plenty of weapons in an offense that ranks No. 1 in the league in yards passing.

Of note: The Chiefs’ poorest performance through the air this season (226 yards) came against the Chargers in September. When these teams met at SoFi Stadium in December of last year, tight end Travis Kelce scored touchdowns late in regulation and early in overtime to lift Kansas City to a dramatic victory.

Going back to that game, the Chargers are only 3-3 in their last six games at home.


When they kick

Rookie Cameron Dicker is set to appear in his third game for the Chargers as an injury replacement for No. 1 placekicker Dustin Hopkins (hamstring). Dicker is five for five on field goals and three for three on extra points. Despite using three kickers this season because of injury, the Chargers have made 34 consecutive attempts — field goals and extra points — overall.

Harrison Butker is five for eight on field goals and 15 for 17 on extra points for the Chiefs.


Jeff Miller’s prediction: The expected returns of wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams certainly factor into picking this game. But will that be enough? Not quite.