Sunday’s Matchup Feels Like Justin Herbert vs. Patrick Mahomes II

This game feels like a heavyweight matchup.
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One year ago plus a week, this matchup was supposed to feature Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs against Tyrod Taylor's Chargers. A medical emergency takes place pregame, and all of a sudden, rookie quarterback Justin Herbert is thrust into the spotlight on national television.

The whole world saw as he drove the offense up the field and finished off his first NFL drive with a QB rollout, turning on the jets and scoring his first NFL rushing touchdown. He also threw his first touchdown to receiver Jalen Guyton before halftime.

He even had a big hit in the game. In the second quarter, he rolled out to his right and took off running as soon as he was close to the sideline, he was challenged by linebacker Damien Wilson. Herbert won the matchup because he got up in a hurry, and Wilson was injured on the play.

"Hey, man, way to play. You're going to play for a long time, man," Mahomes told Herbert after the game. "Ay, just stay away from those big hits. I learned early, you've got to stay away from them."

The young quarterback listened.

A lot has happened since the last time they faced off. Herbert went on to win the Rookie of the Year and didn't face Mahomes in week 17. The former Texas Tech quarterback took his Chiefs to the Super Bowl against Tampa Bay.

Now they meet again.

This will be the first matchup since Herbert surprised everyone when he ran out to the huddle. There could be a lot of points put up in this game.

Especially with how explosive both offenses and quarterbacks can be, expect a high-scoring game.

"His arm talent," Mahomes said. "It's crazy, I mean, the way he's able to throw some of these throws, it's kind of like when you throw it your like 'I don't know if that's good throw,' and then he's always hitting it perfectly in there. So, it's always a great throw."

The Chargers quarterback has made some insane throws the last year and a game. One of the nicer ones was last weekend when he found receiver Keenan Allen for a 42- yard completion. He dropped it into his diving receiver's hands with two defenders guarding him.

"I think he's incredibly smart," Herbert said about Mahomes. "I think he's able to make every throw on the field. You can never outrun his arm."

The Chiefs quarterback rarely throws interceptions and sometimes can telegraph what the defense is going to do before they do it. He is genuinely one of the best quarterbacks of the last decade.

Does Mahomes see a little of himself in Herbert?

"He's a big guy bigger than I am," Mahomes explained. "But he's a big guy, and he has a strong arm, and he can move around. So, he definitely does it in his way, but he has a lot of success doing it."

Herbert has grown a lot since the encounter against the Chiefs in that week two matchup. He faced a third down against the Chiefs, and instead of running for the first down, he decided to throw across his body and had his pass intercepted by L'Jarius Sneed, which turned the momentum of the game.

Last week against the Cowboys, he faced a similar situation, but he ran for the first down this time. He is learning every week.

"He's someone that has a lot of talent," Mahomes said. "He's learning more and more as he gets in this league, and whenever you can have success without having the knowledge. Usually, when you start getting more and more knowledge, you get even better."

The Chargers offense has eaten up a lot of yards going up and down the field but have only managed to score 37 points combined. They have only scored three touchdowns, and Herbert has thrown three interceptions.

It has been a weird start to the season.

"I think it's an opportunity for us to show and let everyone know that we can be better," Herbert explained. "Our first two games, I don't feel like are an accurate representation of our offense. I think we can be better, and I know the guys believe that too, so do the coaches. It's up to us to make that happen."

They will need to be better against Kansas City, especially because Mahomes has thrown six touchdowns in just two games. Tight end Travis Kelce has seen three of those. This offense is high-powered, so Herbert and the offense will need to keep up.

Both teams are coming off bad losses. The Chiefs were up on Baltimore in the fourth quarter, but Lamar Jackson was able to take the lead by one point. It seemed like enough time was left on the clock for Mahomes but running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire fumbled, and the Ravens recovered.

The Chargers made a lot of mistakes on offense that cost them against the Dallas Cowboys. Two penalties negated two touchdowns for them, and other penalties took away big plays. They weren't disciplined, and it cost them.

"We have 15 more weeks," Herbert explained. "We've got 15 more opportunities to play football, and we got another game on Sunday against a really good opponent. So, we've got to watch the film. We can be salty about it for a couple of hours, but it's time to be back to work."

This is a big game for both teams. Mahomes and the Chiefs have only lost once in the month of September, which happened last weekend. They want to get back on track to play at SoFi Stadium in February.

The Chargers need to get back on the winning column so that this division and a wild card spot doesn’t slip out of their realm of chances.

Sunday will have Arrowhead Stadium colored in red with fans screaming at the top of their lungs, trying to cheer their team on while booing the opposing team. This game will have some fireworks now that Mahomes potentially has an AFC West quarterback rival.

"This is what you dream of," Herbert said. "They've won Super Bowl [Championships]. It's a great opportunity for us to go out there, to a hostile environment, and play our football. They're an incredible team, they've got a good defense, a good offense. They're going to need everything we've got."