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Chiefs vs. Chargers: Game Preview

Posted Sep 24, 2017

Kansas City puts its 11-game divisional winning streak on the line on Sunday

GAMETIME: 3:25 p.m. CT on Sunday, September 24

LOCATION: StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. 

HOW TO WATCH: CBS (KCTV5 local)

HOW TO LISTEN: 101.1 The Fox

The Kansas City Chiefs remain unblemished through the first two weeks of the new season.

It’s been an exciting start that’s drawn from all three phases, resulting in convincing wins over the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. The Chiefs outscored the opposition by 22 points, tallied nine sacks and earned an abundance of individual awards as they moved to 2-0 on the year for the first time since 2013.

Kansas City will put its perfect record on the line on Sunday, as the Chiefs travel to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers for the first divisional showdown of the season.

Los Angeles is still winless on the year, but their record is deceiving. The Chargers have lost both of their games this season by a mere five points, and each contest came down to a missed field goal in the closing seconds. 

The game will mark Kansas City’s first against the new-look Chargers, who moved to Los Angeles from San Diego this past offseason. The Chargers play in a unique venue, the 27,000-seat StubHub Center, which serves as the permanent home of Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy.

The stadium will be the Chargers’ home for the next three seasons while a new stadium, which will also house the Los Angeles Rams, is under construction.

Though while the scenery may be new, the Chiefs are all too familiar with the division rival. 

Kansas City has won six straight games over the Chargers dating back to 2014, averaging nearly 26 points per game.

Quarterback Alex Smith, a southern California native, is 5-1 against his childhood team since coming to Kansas City, posting a 103.1 passer rating in those games.

In fact, as tough as the AFC West has been over the past several years, the Chiefs have been at their best when playing within the division. Kansas City hasn’t lost to an AFC West foe in over two years, winning a league-best 11 straight against division rivals.

RELATED: Chiefs vs. Chargers: 10 Stats to Know

The Chiefs’ divisional success has been even further amplified on the road, where Smith has thrown 16 touchdowns to just one interception since 2013, posting a 101.4 passer rating.

Smith will look to build on those numbers on Sunday in what has already been a stellar start to his season.

Through two games, Kansas City’s signal caller ranks in the top 10 in completion percentage (2nd, 77.8 percent), touchdowns (T-3rd, 5) and passing yards (7th, 619) while posting the best passer rating in the league among quarterbacks to play at least two games (134.1).

Smith’s favorite target last week was tight end Travis Kelce, who hauled in eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. It was Kelce’s seventh 100-yard receiving game dating back to last season, second to only Atlanta’s Julio Jones (8) in that span.

Los Angeles has surrendered eight catches for 124 yards to opposing tight ends so far this season, meaning Kelce could be in for some more targets on Sunday.

Another one of Smith’s favorite weapons has been Chiefs’ rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who leads the NFL in rushing through two weeks with 229 yards. Hunt followed his record-breaking debut against New England with another impressive performance last week, rushing for 81 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Chargers will have their work cut out for them with Hunt coming to town on Sunday.

One thing Los Angeles can do, and exceptionally well, is rush the passer, as defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram form as good a tandem as any in the league.

Bosa, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, earned Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after tallying 10.5 sacks in just 12 games last season, while Ingram has 18.5 sacks over the past two years.

The duo can get after the passer, and keeping them in check will be key on Sunday.

The Chiefs are another team that likes to rush the quarterback, as evidenced by their nine sacks this season, and that could prove pivotal in containing an explosive Los Angeles offense.

Quarterback Philip Rivers is in his 14th year under center for the Chargers and is off to another hot start, posting a 106.4 passer rating through Los Angeles’ two games. Though while Rivers has been one of the best at his position throughout his career, the Chiefs have given him trouble over the past few years.

In Los Angeles’ six-game losing streak to Kansas City, Rivers has thrown seven interceptions to just five touchdowns and has failed to eclipse 300 yards passing in any of the contests.

In order to maintain that success on Sunday, the Chiefs’ defense will need to contain one of Rivers’ favorite targets in wide receiver Keenan Allen.

Rivers has targeted Allen 20 times already, culminating in 14 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown. The fifth-year receiver is back after tearing his ACL early last season and leads a formidable group of receivers that includes dynamic tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry.

RELATED: Chiefs vs. Chargers: Five Things to Watch

Los Angeles’ other primary weapon on offense is third-year running back Melvin Gordon, who earned a trip to the Pro Bowl last season after tallying 1,416 yards from scrimmage. While he’s listed as questionable with a knee injury, Gordon is an explosive player that can create problems both as a runner and a receiver, and – if he plays - one the Chiefs will look to contain on Sunday.

Though despite an abundance of playmakers, the Chargers have managed to average just 19.0 points through their first two games. That’s a trend the Chiefs will look to continue as Kansas City tries to maintain its perfect record.  

Divisional games are never easy, especially with Los Angeles fighting for its first win of the season, though if the game is close late, Kansas City has displayed the ability to pull away when it matters most.  

The Chiefs have scored 35 points in the fourth quarter this season, which not only leads the league, but ranks as the second-most ever through two games since 1991.

Kansas City trailed New England entering the fourth quarter in Week 1 and led Philadelphia by just a field goal prior the final period last week before outscoring both teams by a combined 25 points.    

Sunday’s matchup will likely be tight, as divisional games generally are, and that ability to finish when it matters most could be the difference as Kansas City tries to stay perfect.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH  | 10 STATS TO KNOW  | HOW TO WATCH AND LISTEN

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