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Week 1 Game Recap: Kansas City Chiefs 38, Los Angeles Chargers 28


What you need to know

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 38-28 in the opening week of the NFL season. Sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahomes played excellent in his new role as the Chiefs starter, completing 15 of 27 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns. Mahomes also rushed five times for 21 yards. Running back Kareem Hunt had a quiet day, rushing 16 times for 49 yards, and did not catch a pass the entire game. The difference in this game was Tyreek Hill. Hill caught seven passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns, while also returning a punt 91 yards for a touchdown. Travis Kelce was also quiet on offense, catching only one pass for six yards. In his first action with the Chief, wide receiver Sammy Watkins caught three passes for 21 yards.

Los Angeles Chargers

Philip Rivers continues to put up huge stats, despite a lack of help from many of his receivers. Despite suffering through at least five dropped passes (several of which likely would have been touchdowns), he still lit up the stat sheet and spread it around to whoever was the most open receiver.

Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler were a two-headed monster at running back, and Ekeler's contributions didn't really put a dent in Gordon's productivity. With less emphasis on the tight end in this year's offense, it's possible that both players will have regular workloads within the game scripts.

Keenan Allen picked up right where he left off in 2017, and actually looks even better and more explosive if that's possible. He is the team's clear go-to guy in all situations, and a definite fantasy WR1.

Kansas City Chiefs

QB Patrick Mahomes II, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 27 - 256 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 21 - 0
In his first game as the Chiefs starter, Patrick Mahomes led them to a 10 point victory over division rival, The Los Angeles Chargers, while completing 15 of 27 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions. Mahomes also added 21 yards on five carries. The Chiefs coaching staff did a remarkable job of simplifying the types of reads that Mahomes would see in his opening game as the starter, and this was especially true on third down. Two of Mahomes four touchdown throws came on shovel passes to Tyreek Hill and DeAnthony Thomas, where the Chiefs used pre-snap motion to get the defense leaning one way, and then had Thomas and Hill run across the formation in the opposite direction. They were essentially runs, but you can give Mahomes credit for executing the plays properly and with the right timing. Mahomes did have an beautiful 36 yard touchdown pass to fullback Anthony Sherman. Sherman lined up on the left end of the formation and ran a sort of wheel route to the left sideline and then up the field. Mahomes threw a perfect pass, lofting it over Shermanís defender while also hitting him in stride, leading to an easy touchdown. Perhaps his best play of the day came on 58 yard touchdown strike to Hill. Mahomes lined up in the shotgun, took the snap and made play action fake to Hunt in the backfield. The Chargers were bringing pressure, but Mahomes was able to stand tall in the pocket and throw a dart to Hill, who was running a slant route from the right side of the formation. The throw was perfect and allowed Hill to use his speed to get up the field for a 58 yard touchdown where he was only partially touched once by a Chargers defender.

RB Kareem Hunt, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 49 - 0 (1 targets)
Kareem Hunt rushed 16 times for 49 yards against the Chargers, and did not catch a pass on his only target of the game. The story of the day was Mahomes and Hill, so there was little need for Hunt to break out in the same way he did at the beginning of last season. Of his 16 carries, five of those went for either no gain, or negative yards. His longest carry of the day came on a run to the right end of the formation, while lined up in the shotgun. Hunt was able to get to the corner before a Chargers defender could catch him, and he picked up 13 yards before being pushed out of bounds. While it is concerning that Hunt only saw one target in the passing game, after Andy Reid talking of getting him more involved in this facet of their offense, the game script will not always be one that phases him out as the game progresses.

WR Tyreek Hill, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0, Rec: 7 - 169 - 2 (8 targets)
Tyreek Hill led the Chiefs in receptions, yards, touchdowns and targets against the Chargers, catching seven passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Hill also returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown and rushed twice for 4 yards. Hill was the difference in this game, as the Chargers had no answer for his speed and Mahomes ability to find him whenever he was open. Hillís first touchdown came on a slant route where Mahomes did a great job of not letting pressure impact his pass. Mahomes hit Hill in stride in the middle of the field and Hill was able to get to the outside so quickly that the Chargers safety only managed to get a hand on his leg as Hill flew by him for a 58 yard touchdown. Hillís next touchdown catch came on a shovel pass from the 1 yard line. Hill came across the formation and took the pass easily for a touchdown without being touched by a Chargers defender. Hillís punt return touchdown was a thing of beauty, and came before Kansas City was even able to run an offensive play. The punt was a good one and Hill was able to run back so that when he caught the punt, he was moving away from the Chargers punt coverage. That allowed him to get to the left sideline where he simply outran the Chargers, and scored a 90 yard touchdown without being touched.

WR Sammy Watkins, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (5 targets)
In his Kansas City Chiefs debut, Sammy Watkins caught three passes on five targets for 21 yards. Much like the rest of the Chiefs offense, there was little need for Watkins to provide a spark, as Tyreek Hill did that all by his lonesome. Mahomes did target Watkins five times, and looked for him deep down the field on two occasions. Watkins longest catch of the day went for 16 yards up the middle of the field on a deep in-route. It was the kind of play that Watkins can make in his sleep, but it was also the type of play that the Chiefs were not getting with their previous #2 receivers. As defenses start to key in on Hill, Watkins will see plenty of single coverage. With his ability to make plays down the field, you will see Watkins splash for the Chiefs this season, it just may not be consistently with so many mouths to feed on offense.

TE Travis Kelce, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (6 targets)
Travis Kelce caught one pass for six yards on six targets against the Chargers on Sunday. Kelce has led the Chiefs in targets for the last three years, but if Sunday is any indication of things to come, Kelce will be surrendering that title to Tyreek Hill. Kelceís lone catch came on a short out-route to the left sideline where he caught the ball and was immediately tackled for a six yard gain. While Mahomes was guilty of some wild throws, Kelce did also drop an easy catch that came on a curl-route where there was no reason to drop the pass. Hill is not going to dominate the touches every game, and there will be plenty of work for Kelce going forward.


Los Angeles Chargers

QB Philip Rivers, 82 offensive snaps, Pass: 34 - 51 - 424 - 3 TD / 1 INT
It took him over fifty pass attempts but as usual, Rivers put up huge statistics. After just one touchdown pass against six interceptions in his two games against the Chiefs last season, Rivers turned those stats around in a big way. And those numbers could have been even bigger if his receiving corps had given him a bit more help. There were multiple dropped passes in the game, most of which were potentially big plays and several of them would have likely been touchdowns. There were a handful of pass attempts that were slight overthrows or slight underthrows, most of which were still the fault of the receivers more often than not. But there were also at least two pass attempts that hit receivers right in the hands in the end zone for easy scores, and they failed to hang on. The running game was effective and the backs hauled in most of their passing targets, so it's not as if Rivers had zero help. And both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams seemed to catch everything in site. But Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin did their quarterback no favors in this one. Rivers looked outstanding, consistently putting the ball right on his receivers fingertips in positions to continue the play, and on several occasions he made perfect passes despite some heavy defensive pressure coming right at him. His first touchdown was a floater to Austin Ekeler in the end zone in single coverage. He read the coverage perfectly as the defense was bearing down on him. In the second half, he flipped an easy score to a wide open Keenan Allen and then later bought some time on a rollout to find Tyrell Williams in the back of the end zone for another score. But on what should have been his fourth touchdown pass, Benjamin just allowed it to bounce off his fingertips in the end zone. Rivers didn't play mistake-free football, as he threw one interception that was clearly his fault, and nearly threw another one on an underthrown ball. But on a day that the Chargers trailed throughout, he was relied upon far more than he should have been. With his old teammate Antonio Gates back in the fold, the two didn't have a regular connection out of the gate. But they did connect on a successful two point conversion attempt in the second half.

RB Melvin Gordon, 62 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 64 - 0, Rec: 9 - 102 - 0 (13 targets)
The Kansas City defense was bottling up Gordon consistently in the very early going. But once he hit the hold for his first big gain, it really softened them up and he started running wild. Gordon used the full bag of tricks in this game, showing nice moves in the open field, power up the middle, and his trademark excellent vision. He also dominated in the passing game, leading all players with nine receptions (though he did drop a pass in the flat in the red zone). He picked up chunks of yardage late in the game as the Chargers furiously tried to come back with multiple dumpoff passes over the middle. Gordon didn't find the end zone for a touchdown, but he did get a handoff on a two point conversion attempt. The Kansas City defense appeared close to bottling him up, but he found just enough of a hole to maneuver through and get in for the conversion.

RB Austin Ekeler, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 39 - 0, Rec: 5 - 87 - 1 (5 targets)
Ekeler teamed with Melvin Gordon to form a strong 1-2 punch in this game, which looks like it may be a preview of their usage patterns throughout the season. After a training camp featuring a lot of speculation of Ekeler having a regular role (rather than just a true backup role), Ekeler found himself very involved in the game plan as a complementary piece in the running game. He showed extremely tough running on the inside, almost never going down on first contact and dragging defenders for yards at a time. And despite Gordon leading all players in receptions, Ekeler found himself as a key piece in the passing game as well. He demonstrated excellent concentration and acrobatics on a deep ball down the left sideline that may have been intended for Keenan Allen. Allen deflected it with one hand and Ekeler managed to reach up and hang on with one hand of his own despite being blanketed by a defender. He then absorbed a huge hit from a defender, which added even more yardage on the penalty. Late in the first half, Rivers hoisted a floater up to him in the end zone in single coverage. Again he absorbed a big hit just as the ball got there, but he managed to hang on for the score. Just as importantly as his apparently regular usage pattern, is the fact that he appears in line for a regular featured role to himself if anything were to happen to Gordon.

WR Keenan Allen, 72 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 108 - 1 (11 targets)
It would be difficult to improve upon what he did a season ago, but Allen somehow looks even quicker and more athletic. He is playing at a slightly lighter weight than in 2017, and the result is that he looks very explosive. He had an abnormally quiet first half, but with the Chargers in catch-up mode in the second half, he really turned it on. At one point, he made a terrific leaping grab along the sideline to seemingly put the Chargers around the 3-yard line, but the officials correctly ruled that he had stepped out of bounds prior to the catch. That miscue negated a big play and a really awesome highlight-reel type of catch. But it mattered little to fantasy owners, because a couple of plays later he shook his defender free for a wide open touchdown from 20 yards out. He just ran right by him at the snap, and the defender was helpless to catch back up to him. He did the same thing late in the game to convert a 4th and 2 down to the 5-yard line. Allen was so fast off the line that defenders almost don't even have a chance to jam him. And with so many other Charger receivers having trouble hanging onto the football in this game, it was clear that Allen was one of the only players he trusted down the stretch.

WR Mike Williams, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 81 - 0 (6 targets)
After a rookie season that was almost a total loss, fantasy owners were excited to see what Williams had in store for his first fully healthy extensive NFL action. The end result was mostly positive. He was targeted on an early two point conversion attempt that the defender made a nice play on, but he showed a real knack for being able to get open almost at will in the second half. The announcers mentioned that Rivers compared him to Vincent Jackson or Malcom Floyd, a big-bodied receiver who can win the jump balls deep down the field and use his frame to shield out defenders. Williams had several such opportunities in this game, and ran good routes featuring nice cuts. Additionally, he was one of the few Charger targets who didn't drop a pass in this game, which certainly endeared him to Philip Rivers as the game went down the stretch.

WR Tyrell Williams, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 8 - 1 (5 targets)
Williams somewhat salvaged his fantasy owners with a late touchdown where he got loose in the back of the end zone, but it could have been so much more. On a day when several Charger receivers let Philip Rivers down with some drops, Williams had perhaps the most egregious of them all. Earlier in the game, he was targeted on a deep ball that went through his hands. It would have been a difficult catch and he may have been interfered with a bit when his arm was grabbed at the last moment, but the end result was an incomplete pass. But later in the first half, he shook loose from the defense and was wide open in the end zone. Actually the defender inexplicably dropped his coverage on Williams and he had nowhere near him when Rivers lofted the easy pass attempt for him. But the ball somehow bounced right through Williams' hands for an incompletion on what should have been one of the easiest touchdown receptions of his career.

WR Travis Benjamin, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 19 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (5 targets)
Benjamin's afternoon opened on a positive note, going for 19 yards on a reverse handoff. And it was all downhill after that. He was targeted on a deep ball by just a bit, but Benjamin allowed the ball to bounce off of his fingertips. It was perhaps slightly overthrown, but it should have been caught and could have gone for a touchdown. He then took an inside screen for 14 yards that was negated by a block in the back on Tyrell Williams. Late in the first half, Benjamin again got wide open way past the defender. He again had to wait a bit for the ball to come down since Rivers threw the pass under duress, but it went right through Benjamin's hands and bounced off his thigh. For some reason, he kind of jumped just as the ball got to him, which seemed to throw off his rhythm. As if the first two weren't bad enough, he capped his afternoon with another dropped touchdown (this one definitely would have gone for a score since he dropped it IN the end zone). It was a perfectly-thrown bullet pass by Rivers, but he just let it go right through his hands. Benjamin does a great job of getting open in the deep secondary, but if he doesn't start hanging on to some of these passes he is going to find himself on the outside looking in at targets.

TE Antonio Gates, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets)
Gates didn't see the field until the middle of the first quarter. His first catch wasn't even an official reception, as he snagged a two point conversion in the second half to pull the Chargers closer. His first official catch didn't come until there were about eight minutes left in the game, and the second one came right after it. His involvement was minimal after not taking part in any preseason action, but he should see more work in the coming weeks.

TE Virgil Green, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets)
Green caught a sharp bullet pass over the middle for a first down early on, but once Antonio Gates came in the game Green's involvement was minimal. He caught just one more ass all game (Gates himself caught just two for the game), but it doesn't appear as if Green will have a very prominent role going forward.