Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) directs a teammate in the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Chargers' long wait for a shiny new home ends on Sunday when they play their first game in SoFi Stadium. Their first guest though could dampen the housewarming.
The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs have won 11 of the past 12 in the series and have taken the past six as the road team. Kansas City also looks primed for a repeat run after a convincing 34-20 victory over the Houston Texans in its opener.
The Chiefs have also won 10 straight overall, going back to last season. Coincidentally, their winning streak began with a 24-17 victory over the Chargers in Mexico City.
''They have weapons everywhere,'' said Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward. ''They have the best QB in the league. They have too many weapons over there but we have weapons too. We know they are big-play hunting so we have to eliminate those.''
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The Chargers' defense has contained Patrick Mahomes at times, but it hasn't translated to wins. As much as Mahomes has dominated the league in his first two years as a starter, he has been even better in September. He has won all seven of his starts the first month of the season with 26 touchdowns and no interceptions. He has thrown for more than 300 yards in all but one game and has three-plus TDs in all seven.
Trying to get an upper hand over Kansas City is why Los Angeles signed defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Chris Harris as well as trading up into the first round to take linebacker Kenneth Murray.
''They played us really well last year, that defense, holding us to some low numbers, stuff that we had been trending on getting better numbers, better scores, and all of that different type of stuff,'' Mahomes said. ''They have a really good defense and a really good scheme. We have to do our best job of being within ourselves and finding a way to put points on the board.''
The Chargers, who are coming off a 16-13 win at Cincinnati, have had a couple of walk-through practices at SoFi Stadium. Coach Anthony Lynn said he thinks they have a familiarity of their new surroundings, which hopefully will help early.
''It seems like the waiting time has gone fast,'' said Lynn, who is hoping to direct the Bolts to their first 2-0 start in eight years.
Someone else eager to see the new venue is Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who is a Los Angeles native.
''I think it is great for the City of Angels. I'm happy for them to have a beautiful stadium like that,'' he said. ''The Coliseum is great in their own right, but this one here is a modern day deal and it looks beautiful.''
Los Angeles has a minus-15 turnover differential in its past six games against Kansas City. The Chargers have committed 17 turnovers in those games with the Chiefs converting those into 58 points (seven touchdowns, three field goals).
''It's ridiculous how many times we have given it away and we have only taken it away twice,'' Lynn said. ''You're just not gonna beat this team that way. So that's, that's been our primary focus.''
Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire became the youngest player to rush for 130 or more yards and a TD last week.
Running backs coach Deland McCullough said he expects the first-round pick to take even bigger steps this week.
''It's just the amount of growth that happens from your first full game to your second one, so that's the part that I'm excited about, that we're all excited about is,'' McCullough said. ''I mean, he's really grown a lot. You're talking about just from last game to the next practice that we had a few days ago just learning and being able to see on tape.''
Chargers defensive lineman Uchenna Nwosu said Edwards-Helaire has excellent jump-cutting ability, but is also aided by running behind a veteran offensive line.
Chargers QB Tyrod Taylor had a league-low 53.3 percent completion rate last week, but he didn't commit any turnovers. The points of emphasis this week have been on trying to be more productive on first and second downs in order to stay ahead of the chains.
''They're going to do a number of different things. But it's up to us to stay focused on the things that we're practicing throughout this week and staying true to our game plan,'' he said.
The Chiefs will be without their top two cornerbacks to match up against Chargers receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Bashaud Breeland is serving a four-game suspension for off-field issues and Charvarius Ward broke his hand in the opener.
Rashad Fenton, who is in his second season, is in line for his first start after playing in 12 games last season while fourth-round pick L'Jarius Sneed had an interception in his NFL debut.
Allen has 61 receptions against the Chiefs, which is his second-most against an opponent. Williams has been a matchup problem for Kansas City in the past and is averaging 16.9 yards per catch.
Besides preaching turnovers, the Chargers have been stressing trying to apply consistent pressure on Mahomes.
According to Statradar, Mahomes was blitzed nearly 40% of the time by Houston but the Texans were only able to apply pressure on 12% of his dropbacks. Los Angeles got three sacks against Cincinnati's Joe Burrow last week but all of those came in the first half as the Bengals went to a shorter passing game.
That could be a problem again this week as Mahomes has one of the quickest releases in the league.
Five Hot Plays: Week 8
Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye made one field goal and a pair of extra points in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Slye didn't get many opportunities in this one, as Carolina made just one trip to the red zone against a surprisingly resurgent Falcons' defense. There's not much that a kicker can do when he's simply not seeing the opportunities. With that said, Slye may be needed more in Week 9 against Kansas City, as the Panthers will probably have to put up a lot of points to win.
The Carolina Panthers Defense had an average day in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Carolina registered two sacks and an interception, holding strong on Atlanta's first two trips to the red zone. However, they couldn't stop the Falcons from marching down the field, ultimately surrendering 25 points to their division rival. At this point, there's nothing to suggest that the Panthers' defense is worthy of streaming for fantasy purposes. Don't even think about starting them in Week 9, as they face the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel enjoyed his most productive game of the season in a losing effort against Atlanta. Samuel caught four of five targets for 31 receiving yards and carried the ball three times for 23 rushing yards. The 24-year-old made a nice run in the red zone to start the scoring for the Panthers, then hauled in a deep pass from Teddy Bridgewater on a flea-flicker. It's Samuel's second straight game with a rushing touchdown. This was an encouraging performance from the former Buckeye, though it's worth noting that he was held under 50 receiving yards for the seventh time in eight games. He'll be a low-end flex at best in Week 9 against the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas caught all three targets for 28 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. It was a juicy matchup for Thomas, but he certainly didn't exploit it, as his modest stat-line will support. His three targets were the most he's seen in weeks, though he seemed to surrender some playing time to fellow tight end Chris Manhertz. It's best to avoid Thomas completely until he picks up his production.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore had a quiet game in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons on Thursday Night Football. Moore caught two of six targets for 55 receiving yards, including a huge 42-yard reception on a 3rd-and-17 in the fourth quarter. In a strange turn of events, Moore went without a catch until the final drive of the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the 23-year-old still saw six targets, second on the team to only fellow wideout Robby Anderson. There should be better days ahead for Moore, as he had compiled at least 93 receiving yards in three straight contests coming into this one. He'll get a Week 9 matchup against Kansas City in what could turn out to be a high-scoring affair.
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis carried the ball 13 times for 66 rushing yards and caught one of two targets for 11 receiving yards in a loss to the Falcons. The 27-year-old disappointed in likely his last ride as the Panthers' lead back, as Christian McCaffrey (ankle) is expected to return in Week 9 against Kansas City. Davis was a PPR machine in McCaffrey's absence, with at least six targets in four games as the starter. He was so impressive at times that it's possible he earned himself a bigger role, though it likely won't amount to much with McCaffrey around to gobble up the majority of the touches. Keep Davis rostered until we find out McCaffrey is back for sure.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage finished Thursday's win with two receptions for 25 yards on three targets. Gage continued to show his inconsistency on Thursday after coming into the game having gotten at least 54 yards in the past two contests. The WR is definitely streaky, which makes him a risky play most weeks. An ankle injury suffered by fellow wideout Calvin Ridley is worth monitoring. If Ridley cannot play next Sunday, Gage's value will surely go up, but it would still be hard to trust him for good production given his lackluster numbers this season.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson hauled in five of eight targets for 48 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons. It could have been a bigger day for the former Jet, as he nearly made a one-handed touchdown grab on a throw from backup P.J. Walker, who came in relief of Teddy Bridgewater for one series. It certainly didn't help Anderson that Bridgewater was under constant pressure the whole night. However, his fantasy managers can take solace in the fact that he's now seen at least eight targets in six of eight contests this season. That sort of volume should keep him in the WR2 mix next week, even in a tough matchup against Kansas City.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had seven receptions for 137 yards on 10 targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. For the past three weeks, the WR has been playing at a tremendous level and has gotten at least seven receptions, nine targets, and 97 yards the past three games. His volume keeps him in the WR1 tier each week.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 15 of 23 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown along with 30 yards rushing on five attempts in a 25-17 loss to Atlanta. Bridgewater left the game after taking a nasty hit in the third quarter, but he was able to return after making it through the league's concussion protocol. The 27-year-old made some nice throws when he was given time, including a beautiful deep ball to Curtis Samuel on a flea-flicker. Unfortunately, he was constantly under pressure, as he was sacked twice and hit six times by the Falcons Defense. A bounce-back could be in the cards next week- Carolina may need to rely on Bridgewater's arm in Week 9 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley finished with three receptions for 42 yards on four targets in Week 8. The WR went down with an ankle injury in the first half of the game and didn't return. Managers will now have to monitor the status of the WR heading into the Week 9 clash against the Broncos.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst finished with five receptions for 54 yards on seven targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. Hurst has now seen seven targets in the past two games and has gotten at least 50 yards in four of the past five games. The TE has a decent role in this offense and the latest numbers are backing that up. Hurst should be considered a low-end TE1 each week given his consistency.
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill finished with 11 carries for 55 yards and two receptions for nine yards on Thursday. It was the RB2 of the team who surprisingly led in rush yards, but this was a rare occurrence. Hill doesn't see enough weekly touches to merit good fantasy value going forward.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II finished Thursday night's win with 18 carries for 46 yards and a score. The back still had a decent night despite Brian Hill getting more rushing yards total. Gurley has now had at least 18 carries in the past three games and has three rushing touchdowns in the past two games. With a steady number of carries each week, the RB should remain in the low-end RB1/high-end RB2 tier every week.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan went 21-for-30 and gained 281 yards and one interception in the Thursday night win over the Panthers. It was a rainy game and many players were clearly affected by the conditions. Ryan finished with an average night, which he has sometimes had this season. With a high-powered offense, the QB should remain in the starting tier most weeks, but is most effective in favorable matchups.
Teddy Bridgewater, after being tripped while trying to scramble, took a shot to the head as he fell to the ground against the Falcons. Obviously, the first concern after a hit to the head is a concussion. Bridgewater's head abruptly twisted to the side and he went into the tent shortly thereafter. The Panthers' backup tonight is XFL sweetheart, P.J. Walker.
Calvin Ridley has been ruled out for the Falcons' Week 8 game against the Panthers. He was tackled by a defender and his left foot got caught under the defender. Ridley immediately grabbed his left foot and went to the locker room. His status for Week 9 will now be in question.
New York Jets running back La'Mical Perine has been buried on the depth chart for most of the season. However, head coach Adam Gase mentioned last week that he wants to get Perine more involved. Perine was on the field for 70 percent of the offensive snaps during the Week 7 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He saw 11 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown in the loss. He'll get a decent matchup here against the Kansas City Chiefs who are average against the run this season. Perine could be worth looking at as a desperation option for owners in need of a running back.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) was able to go through limited practice on Thursday. That is actually an upgrade since Crowder sat out of practice the day prior. Crowder has been basically the only bright spot for this team all season long. His absence would doom the Jets chances of doing anything at all on offense versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. Crowder has seen 10 or more targets in each game that he has played in this season. He'll be a reliable WR2, assuming he suits up here.
New York Jets running back Frank Gore has seen a significant role in the backfield this season. The departure of Le'Veon Bell has opened up lead back duties for Gore over the last few weeks. Sadly, the Jets offensive line and team as a whole is horrible this season. Gore has done what he can, but will likely see his role decrease going forward. Head coach Adam Gase wants to see La'Mical Perine more involved in the offense. That means, Gore is going to be a tough option to trust versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8.