Early battle of AFC West powers, as the six-time defending division champion Kansas City Chiefs host the preseason favorites to dethrone them, the Los Angeles Chargers.
It's a pivotal, early-season showdown that could matter down the road considering how tight the division is this season.
Both teams are in after Week 1 victories, as the Chiefs went into Arizona to spank the Cardinals, 44-21, as Patrick Mahomes threw for 360 yards and five touchdowns for a 144.2 rating. It marked his sixth-career game with at least five touchdown passes. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire hauled in a career-high two touchdown passes while rookie running back Isiah Pacheco ran for his first-career touchdown.
On defense, tackle Chris Jones registered his 11th-career forced fumble, and make note, he's tallied four sacks in his past two Thursday games. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap had a sack in his Chiefs debut and boasts 5.5 sacks in six career games against the Chargers. Linebacker Nick Bolton picked up where he left off in 2021, when he led all rookies with 112 tackles, by recording a team-high 10 tackles.
The Chargers knocked off division -rival Las Vegas, beating the Raiders in Inglewood last week, 24-19. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 297 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 129.4 rating. It was his ninth career game with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions, tied with Mahomes for the most-ever by a player in his first three seasons. In four career games against Kansas City, Herbert has 13 touchdowns (10 passing, three rushing) and a 108.3 rating.
On the other side of the ball, linebacker Khalil Mack led the Bolts with three sacks and had a forced fumble in his Chargers debut. Since entering the league in 2014, Mack ranks tied for second among all players with 24 forced fumbles. Linebacker Joey Bosa also registered a forced fumble against the Raiders and added 1.5 sacks. He posted a sack and forced a fumble in the Chargers' last meeting with Kansas City and aims for his fifth straight in primetime with a sack. Safety Derwin James tied for the team lead with six tackles last week, and also posted a sack. Cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. snagged his third-career interception. One of those three was in last year's Week 3 meeting in Kansas City.
The Chiefs are looking to begin 2-0 for the fifth time in the past six years, while the Chargers are aiming to win their first two games of a season for the first time since 2012.
Chargers have failed to cover seven of their last 10 vs. AFC foes, and are mired in a 1-4 ATS skid against winning teams. That said, the road team has covered 17 of the last 22 meetings, and the Bolts have cashed seven of their last 10 against division foes.
The Chargers have covered nine of their last 13 on Thursdays, and four of their last five on the road on TNF.
The Bolts have covered four of their last six against AFC West foes on Thursday.
Kansas City has covered six of its last seven at home, and 13 of its last 18 in the month of September. The Chiefs have shown a knack for falling flat after an offensive burst, as they're 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games after scoring more than 30 points in their last time out.
The Chiefs have covered five of their last seven on Thursdays, but have split their last four at home on TNF.
Kansas City has failed to cover five of their last eight against AFC West foes on Thursday.