The Kansas City Chiefs have dropped back-to-back games for the first time since October of 2019, losing by a score of 30-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers at home — their third home loss to the Chargers in the last four seasons.
Both sides of the ball underperformed in this game, as the Chiefs' offense was stagnant for much of the game, turning the ball over four times, and the defense got beaten up through the air on passes by Justin Herbert. The Chargers' second-year quarterback had 297 total yards and four passing touchdowns. The defense was able to do well against the run, but it just made very little impact on how it did against the pass.
The Chiefs' next game will be a Sunday game on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles currently stand at 1-2, with losses in their last two games to the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. Their loss to the Cowboys was a Monday Night game in Dallas, in which they trailed 41-14 late in the fourth quarter. Jalen Hurts leads the Eagles as their quarterback, but has looked rather unconvincing in his performances and now calls for Joe Flacco or Gardner Minshew to become the starter are getting louder. I would still expect to see Hurts against the Chiefs on Sunday, though.
The Chargers were certainly the better team on the day, despite the feeling that the game was there for the taking once the Chiefs finally took the lead in the third quarter. The Chargers' passing attack was electric, getting 0.42 EPA per play, including 0.45 EPA per early-down play over 31 such plays and 0.32 EPA per late-down play over 14 such plays. Meanwhile, the Chiefs' offense was killed by turnovers, which took their EPA per pass from around a good 0.31 EPA per play to a poor 0.08 EPA per play with the two interceptions and the Tyreek Hill fumble. The EPA per rush was fine at 0.01, but it could have been so much higher, standing at a really good 0.24 EPA per rush without the Clyde Edwards-Helaire fumble.
The top Chiefs offensive weapons in this one were Travis Kelce, who had 6.5 EPA over 12 plays, and Mecole Hardman, who had 4.9 EPA over just five plays — one of his best, most impactful performances as a Chief. Third on the list was actually Jody Fortson, who hauled in the first touchdown of his career and added 1.8 EPA, continuing to make his case for more of a role on the team.
On the Chargers, the trio of Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen all did damage, as expected. Williams had 12.1 EPA, more than half of Herbert's total through the air, while Ekeler added 5.4 EPA (4.9 of it coming on passes) and Allen added 4.2 EPA over 14 plays while seemingly catching everything in sight. All three of them had impressive performances and got some more help from the tight ends. Jared Cook and Donald Parham combined for 3.3 EPA.
Patrick Mahomes played a fine game, getting a 0.25 EPA per play (74th percentile) and 13.1 Total EPA (84th percentile). On top of that, if the Marcus Kemp interception was caught and taken in for a touchdown, as it should have been, that prevents Mahomes from losing 3.5 expected points and it goes from 3.9 expected points prior to the play to 7.0 expected points following the play, adding 6.6 EPA to his total. This gets him to 19.7 Total EPA and 0.37 EPA per play on the game, which is just below Justin Herbert's numbers for the game.
Herbert was fantastic in this game, getting a total of 0.43 EPA per play (90th percentile) and 20.1 Total EPA (95th percentile). While the 16th percentile average depth of target could be used to diminish it, he also had an 81st percentile CPOE of 8.2%, so he still was making plenty of great throws in this one. Herbert continues establishing himself as one of the great quarterbacks in the game and I doubt we'll see that change soon.
With how the game went, this looks about right. All of the five most impactful plays on the day went in the Chargers' favor and those five plays combined shifted 22.6 expected points towards the Chargers. Those five plays also took a combined 56% of win probability away from the Chiefs. Of the top 10 plays, only two went in the Chiefs' favor, with a 23-yard pass to Travis Kelce on 3rd & 10 in Chargers territory added 2.8 expected points and an eight-yard touchdown for Mecole Hardman in the fourth quarter adding 2.3 expected points, ranking 10th.
For a Chiefs game in the Mahomes era, this is probably among the top for games in which the Chiefs held a win probability disadvantage, as the win probability advantage looks to be about 50/50. The Chiefs started the game with a 75% win probability and held the advantage until Edwards-Helaire's fumble with around 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter. This win probability advantage for the Chargers got up to 78.7% before it dropped back down and the Chiefs started heating up again. It then started going back and forth between the two teams until the final Mahomes interception, when the Chargers were able to hold on for the remainder of the game.
The expected points stats here reflect what's going on quite well. The Chiefs have the second-best offense in the league behind only the Los Angeles Rams, but have the last-ranked defense with over 0.2 EPA per play allowed. The defense can't be this bad all season if the Chiefs want to win another Super Bowl, so something has to be tweaked or improve somewhere.
Patrick Mahomes has fallen into second into the EPA+CPOE rankings at .250, trailing the Broncos' Teddy Bridgewater who has a 0.267 EPA+CPOE composite. In third is Kyler Murray at 0.245, who leads in CPOE and is sixth in EPA per play. Sam Darnold has a 0.239 and Aaron Rodgers has a 0.230. Matthew Stafford leads the NFL in EPA per play with a whopping 0.521 EPA per play, but ranks 23rd in CPOE. Mahomes will likely take the lead back this week, however, with him playing the Eagles and the Broncos finally taking a jump in competition. Denver goes from three 0-3 teams to the Baltimore Ravens, so this coming week ought to be a positive one for Chiefs fans.
The final chart of the day is early-down passing rate with a 20-80% win probability. Currently, the Bills are dominating in this stat with a 70.8% early-down passing rating, which would be more than seven percent higher than their total last year. Following the Bills for teams over 60% are the Buccaneers, Chargers, Panthers and Raiders. All five of them have a winning record, including 3-0 records for the Raiders and Panthers.
The Chiefs stand in tied for sixth with a 59.8% early-down passing rate and should definitely look to increase this by a lot, as their early-down passing EPA is 0.354, which ranks eighth and their early-down rushing EPA is -0.052, which ranks 13th.