The first rivalry game of the season for the Chiefs is gaining traction as the Chiefs will be taking on the Chargers in Arrowhead. Both the Chiefs and the Chargers are coming off disappointing losses in Week Two; the Chiefs lost due to a fumble against the Ravens and the Chargers lost on a last-drive field goal against the Cowboys.
The Chiefs and Chargers are known to have good clashes whenever they face off; this means we’ll be seeing some highly anticipated battles on Sunday. With that said, here are three battles you need to watch for ahead of this Week Three.
Chiefs’ Run Defense Versus Austin Ekeler And Justin Jackson
To say the Chiefs’ run defense is abysmal would be an insult to actual abysmal run defenses. I think it’s been said by many Chiefs fans, but it feels like we’re seeing Bob Sutton 2.0. The Chiefs are ranked dead-last in the league at 32nd, allowing over 200 rushing yards per game over the past two weeks (202 rush yards per game). They are also ranked 32nd in allowed yards per attempt, at six yards per attempt over the past two weeks. Again, they are ranked dead-last in rushing touchdowns per game at 3.5 rush TDs per game.
See what I’m getting at here? The Chiefs’ run defense sucks, and no, I wouldn’t fare any better; I’d be exposed in ways I couldn’t think was possible.
They’ll be facing off against Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson of the LA Chargers. These two are not ones to take lightly in any way.
Ekeler had a solid campaign last week against the Cowboys, raking up 54 yards on nine carries (six yards per attempt) and nine catches on all nine targets for 61 yards. He is a dual-threat, one-cut back who can make the Chiefs’ run defense suffer immensely, averaging 4.6 yards per run. His elusiveness will cause problems for the Chiefs; but, if they can contain him, this will be vital signs for the future of the 2021 season. Jackson poses a threat too, averaging 5.2 yards per run.
While I never truly worry about backup RBs (aside from Kareem Hunt), this is the Chiefs’ run defense we are talking about. Anyone can be a star against them if they use their skills right. This will be a fun battle to see; furthermore, I’d be surprised if the Chiefs hold them to under 125 rush yards on the day.
L’Jarius Sneed Versus Keenan Allen
The dual of the number ones, and maybe the most intriguing battle in this game. Keenan Allen, probably one of the most underrated receivers aside from Allen Robinson, has had an explosive start to the year. In the past two games, Allen had put up 100 yards against Washington and 108 yards against Dallas. He is one of the best receivers in the whole division, and without a shadow of a doubt, a top-15 WR. Sneed will have to challenge to face off against him, and it will a tough one.
Aside from his interception when he last faced the Chargers in 2020, he has not had the best luck against Allen. He allowed six catches on eight attempts for 51 yards. To be fair, it has been a while since they last faced off; moreover, Sneed has had ample time to refine his skill set. It’ll be interesting to see how Sneed squares up against one of the league’s best heading into Sunday.
Chris Jones Versus Rashawn Slater
A highly-touted rookie against one of the most prominent pass-rushers in the league; sign me up for that bout, please! This will be a good edge battle to watch, and while I know Jones is questionable as I’m writing this article, but he’ll probably be on the field against Slater. While Jones had a quiet night last Sunday, he did have a great game against Cleveland on the edge, having two sacks. Slater has had a great start to his young career, allowing zero sacks through two games, and has a 78.8 pass-blocking grade according to PFF.
This will be a true battle of physicality and technique. Slater is quick off his stance and has good technique; however, Jones does as well and he has raw strength that is rare to find in most defensive linemen. Watching these two fight will be thrilling to watch, and it’ll be fun to see who is the victor. I could see Jones using his technique to get a hard-fought sack against him.
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