Chargers versus Chiefs Preview with KC Reporter Joshua Brisco
The inaugural game at SoFi Stadium will be against the division rival Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at 1:25 p.m. (PT) with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo.
It should be an exciting matchup because of how well the Chargers have placed the Chiefs in the past, but also because the Super Bowl defending champions are coming to Los Angeles.
I spoke with Chiefs reporter for SI, Joshua Brisco, to give a preview of the matchup from a Kansas City perspective.
1. A player who has taken the NFL by storm is Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Could he really be the next big-time weapon on an already loaded KC offense?
To some extent. The Chiefs are in "embarrassment of riches" territory when it comes to offensive weapons. More than anything, I think Edwards-Helaire is going to be another piece to round out the explosiveness of the Chiefs' offense. Like we saw against the Texans last week, Houston gave the Chiefs a lot of light boxes and focused on limiting big passing plays, so Clyde had a big game running through those light boxes, and the rest of the league will have to understand that the Chiefs are willing to take freebies on the ground.
2. It seems like KC's pass rush was very effective on Thursday. Can you talk about Chris Jones and Frank Clark's impact last Thursday?
In 2019, the Chiefs rarely enjoyed the duo of Clark and Jones being fully healthy and on the field at the same time. On Thursday, we saw what they look like at full strength. Not only can they be among the NFL's top pass-rushing duos, they also help cover some of the team's weaknesses at cornerback. (Spoiler alert, I'll talk more about that in a minute.)
3. The offensive line has had some losses during the offseason. How do you feel like they have performed so far?
They were really strong on Thursday, particularly first-year Chief but longtime-NFLer Kelechi Osemele. The Chiefs signed Osemele right after Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out, and Osemele was the star of the interior o-line last week. On the edges, Eric Fisher is a steady left tackle and Mitchell Schwartz is probably the best right tackle in the league. Overall, it's a good unit with one definite blue-chip player in Schwartz.
4. With such a loaded roster, is there a player fans haven't heard of that they will know pretty soon?
Fans of both teams should know about L'Jarius Sneed, the Chiefs' rookie fourth-round draft pick. He started in Bashaud Breeland's vacated cornerback spot last week and he may be KC's No. 1 corner if Charvarius Ward doesn't play after getting surgery on his broken hand. He played well against Houston but seeing if he can sustain that success will be a huge factor on Sunday.
In terms of future stars, I'm holding out hope for an increased role for wide receiver Mecole Hardman in 2020. He seems to still have some work to do to fully jump Demarcus Robinson on the depth chart due to Robinson's familiarity in the offense, but Hardman's speed and explosiveness would be a much more prominent storyline if he didn't share a field with Tyreek Hill, who already demands so much of that attention.
5. If the Chargers are to have any hope to win, what is their best chance?
Circle back to Sneed, Ward and Breeland. Breeland's suspension lasts through Week 4, Ward is a question mark, and if Ward doesn't play, the Chiefs will likely go with Sneed, Rashad Fenton and Antonio Hamilton as their top three corners. Any one of those guys on the field wouldn't worry me, but all three could give Tyrod Taylor some chances if the Chargers can protect him from the Chiefs' pass rush.
Ultimately, the Chargers would have to score consistently, scoring touchdowns and never settling for field goals, all while being able to pressure Mahomes quickly enough to make deep shots difficult while devoting extra attention to the short and mid-range passes, all while respecting the Chiefs' newfound running game. I actually think the Chargers will have moments of success at most of those things, but I just can't see them doing it consistently enough to hold KC's offense down.