The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars last week in order to improve their record to 7-2 on the year, and Sunday presents them with an opportunity to secure win No. 8 against a bitter division rival.
Of the last 10 Chiefs vs. Chargers matchups, Kansas City holds a 7-3 record with some impressive victories on its resume. With that said, the two teams have split their last four meetings. The Chiefs have been on the winning end for consecutive battles, including a 27-24 comeback win back in Week 2 of this season. The ultimate fate of the AFC West potentially hangs in the balance on the Sunday Night Football stage, and this is shaping up to be one of the best games of the 2022 campaign.
How will tonight's game unfold? The Arrowhead Report crew makes their predictions.
Jordan Foote: I've gone back and forth on this game all week, as the Chargers have a seemingly perfect storm of home-field advantage, the return of their top two wideouts and the matter of a must-win game on their hands. If Los Angeles loses, Brandon Staley's club can essentially kiss winning the AFC West goodbye. For those reasons, it makes a ton of sense to pick the Chargers here. Patrick Mahomes is on a heater, though, and he has yet to lose a road game within the division. Tonight very well could be the night, but I'm not going to bet against him just yet.
Prediction: Chiefs 31, Chargers 27
Mark Van Sickle: Before the season, I had this game penciled in as a Chiefs loss. The Chargers always play the Chiefs tough and this could finally be the time we see Patrick Mahomes lose a road game in the AFC West. However, my preseason calculation didn’t project the Chargers' injury situation, though it should have been assumed. Their offensive line is a mess and they have injuries on the defensive side of the ball as well.
It seems as if Los Angeles will get its top wide receivers back together for the first time since Week 1, so that will be a plus. The Chiefs have their own set of injury issues at the receiver spot, but Patrick Mahomes and his MVP abilities should be able to mask that for Kansas City. At the end of the day, Mahomes will still be undefeated in road games against the AFC West. It’s a prime-time game, and Mahomes thrives in them.
Prediction: Chiefs 31, Chargers 27
Conner Christopherson: While it seems like this is the most favorable matchup for Chiefs against the Chargers in a while, with no Joey Bosa and a hobbled Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, I still feel like the Chiefs will struggle in this game. They always do against the Chargers. The two wildcards for the Chiefs this time around are Kadarius Toney and Isiah Pacheco. Pacheco, especially, could be the key to this game for the Chiefs with the Chargers' defensive line decimated by injuries. If the Chiefs can keep the Chargers' defense from dropping meaningful defenders, then this game can look different than past Chargers games. Time will tell if the Chiefs commit to running the ball.
Prediction: Chiefs 27, Chargers 24
Zack Eisen: The Chiefs travel to Los Angeles for a huge matchup in which they could practically clinch the AFC West with a win. It is always a tough game when these teams have faced off over the past few years. That was the case when the Chargers came to Kansas City earlier in the season, with the Chiefs coming out on top. However, the teams will look different this time around. Los Angeles will be without Joey Bosa, but they will get Keenan Allen back. The Chiefs won’t have JuJu Smith-Schuster, but Trent McDuffie will be on the field. Ultimately, the Chiefs should know how important this game is, and they have Patrick Mahomes on their side. That's the difference.
Prediction: Chiefs 31, Chargers 20
Marlow Ferguson Jr.: Prior to the 2022-23 season, we had high hopes for how competitive the AFC West could be. With December upon the horizon, the only two teams to hold up their ends of that bargain meet up for a Sunday Night Football clash. The Chiefs are clearly the class of the division, but there’s just something about the mental and psychological aspect of knowing you’ve got Pro Bowl-caliber talent returning to the locker room, as the Chargers could potentially have in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
Justin Herbert’s rocket arm hasn’t been put to usage in their absences — his intended air yards per attempt (6.2) is 34th out of 35 qualifiers. Even in missing two of his three most statistically-productive wideouts, Patrick Mahomes’s brilliance will force them to be aggressive. The Derwin James vs. Travis Kelce duel will be fun as always, as will Frank Clark’s return. At home, the gut feeling is that this banged-up but slightly healthier version of the Chargers does just enough to keep the division interesting until the inevitable happens.
Prediction: Chargers 26, Chiefs 24