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Chiefs, Chargers set for key AFC West matchup in Mexico City

Thu Nov 14 6:49pm ET
By JOE REEDY
AP Sports Writer

Players: Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Patrick Mahomes

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws a pass against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)


Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers waits to take part in a drill during an NFL football practice Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, at Air Force Academy, Colo. The Chargers are training at Air Force, which is at an elevation of 7,200 feet, to prepare for Monday night's game against Kansas City in Mexico City. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes against the Tennessee Titans in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)


Everyone hopes the playing surface at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca will not be the main story of Monday night’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers.

Both coaches said they have received favorable updates about the turf going into the game. Last year’s game between the Chiefs and Rams was moved back to Los Angeles less than a week before the game when the field was deemed unplayable because of rain and the stadium hosting concerts less than a month before the game.

"Everything that I've been told has been positive," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

The teams have taken different approaches to preparing. The Chargers have spent the week at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to get acclimated to the altitude. The Chiefs have kept their same routine with the only adjustment being to hydrate more according to quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

It is an important AFC West matchup for both teams. Kansas City (6-4) won its first four games but has dropped four of its past six, allowing Oakland to get within a half-game of the division lead. Los Angeles (4-6) has struggled for most of the season but remains only two games out.

This is the first of two straight crucial division games for the Chiefs. After their bye week they will host the Raiders on Dec. 1.

“To say you are in control of your own destiny at 4-6 is pretty rare,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said.

Here are other things to watch as the Chargers play an international home game for the second straight season:

CHOPPY RIVERS

Rivers leads the league in passing yards (2,816) but is also third in interceptions (10). He had three last week against Oakland, including a pick-6 that loomed large in what turned out to be a 26-24 loss to the Raiders.

The Chargers were among the league’s better teams in not committing turnovers the past two seasons, but their 16 giveaways this season are tied for seventh in the league. Five have occurred in goal-to-go situations.

“We’ve made some critical mistakes and not being able to overcome them,” Rivers said.

HEALTHIER MAHOMES

Mahomes returned to the lineup last week after missing two games because of a knee injury. He threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s loss to Tennessee but said on Thursday that this is the best he has felt since early September.

“I would say going into the Jacksonville game,” he said. “Just not having to worry about the ankle or not have to worry about the knee and just being able to go out there and play football the way that I have been able to play it my whole career so far.”

GETTING PRESSURE

Los Angeles defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa have been a handful for opposing offensive lines lately. They have combined for nine sacks over the past four games.

Bosa is third in the AFC with 8½ sacks on the season while Ingram has added 4½. Ingram had 1½ sacks against Mahomes in Week 15 last season.

ON THE MEND

Kansas City is beginning to get some of the pieces back on its offensive and defensive lines. Offensive tackles Eric Fisher (groin), Cam Erving (ankle) and guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle) have been full participants this week while Mitchell Schartz (knee) is limited. Defensive end Frank Clark (neck) has also been a full participant.

The Chiefs though are likely to be without defensive ends Emmanuel Ogbah (pectoral) and Alex Okafor (ankle).

KEEP AN EYE ON

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon. He rushed for a season-high 108 yards last week and seems to be regaining his stride after missing the first four games because of a contract dispute. He had 166 scrimmage yards (102 receiving, 64 rushing) the previous time he faced Chiefs, who are ranked 31st in the league in run defense.

Player Notes
Brandin Cooks Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught four receptions for 46 yards in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. The four catches were all he had in the last three games entering the contest. He was third on team with eight targets. It was nice that he re-emerged as a target in the offense, but he's still not an option in fantasy against the San Francisco 49ers next week.

From RotoBaller

Robert Woods Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods had four catches for 17 yards on nine targets in Week 15. The Dallas Cowboys did their homework and made him a non-factor. He was second on the team in targets. Next week will be even more of a chore against the San Francisco 49ers. Woods will be a WR3 option in the matchup.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Higbee Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee had a game-high 12 catches for 111 yards in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. He was targeted 14 times in the game, which led all players. He has 26 catches for 334 yards and one score the last three games as he has emerged as a TE1. He'll have a solid matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week as a midrange TE1.

From RotoBaller

Greg Zuerlein Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein had a single extra point in the blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15. He'll have a decent matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week, and Zuerlein will be a low-end kicker option.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Donald Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald had three tackles (one solo) in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. He was unable to land a sack in the game. He'll have a midrange matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week as a low-end DL1.

From RotoBaller

Ricky Seals-Jones Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Cleveland Browns tight end Ricky Seals-Jones had a big game against his former team in Week 15. Seals-Jones caught three of his four targets for 29 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, furthering Arizona's season-long struggles against the tight end. David Njoku was a surprise pregame scratch, which helped lead to a larger role for Seals-Jones. Regardless of what happens with Njoku in Week 16, none of the Cleveland tight ends will be recommended options against a tough Baltimore Ravens Defense.

From RotoBaller

Terry McLaurin Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin hauled in all five of the passes thrown his way on Sunday, producing 130 yards and a touchdown. McLaurin's two best fantasy outings of the year have now both come against the Eagles, so Philly is likely happy to be finished with him until 2020. The Redskins' number-one receiver has scored in back-to-back weeks, and has put up serviceable PPR numbers in three of his last four. He remains in the starting conversation for all formats, especially for those fantasy owners who've been hit with injuries to WRs lately.

From RotoBaller

Stefon Diggs Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught four of six targets for 76 yards in a resounding 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He also added one rush for four yards in the victory. Diggs hauled in his 13th reception of at least 30 yards (most in the NFL) on a nice 46-yard catch in the fourth quarter, setting up an eight-yard Mike Boone touchdown. Diggs clearly could have had a bigger game if the Chargers had been able to keep it close, but the Vikings threw just five times in the second half with the outcome already determined. Diggs has emerged as one of the top deep threats in the NFL and should remain a high-upside WR2 in Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers.

From RotoBaller

Chandler Jones Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones had five solo tackles and a sack against the Cleveland Browns Sunday. He has at least a half-sack in six straight games, but he has had five or more tackles in just four games this season. So it's a risk to use him against the Seattle Seahawks next week, but he'll be a low-end LB1 option.

From RotoBaller

Budda Baker Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker had seven tackles (five solo) in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns. Baker has been a solid DB1 in individual defensive player leagues all season, but he has fizzled out a bit. He's good for tackles, but he doesn't do much else. He'll be a low-end DB1 against the Seattle Seahawks next week.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught eight of his 13 targets for 66 scoreless yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. On the plus side, Beckham's 13 targets are the most he's seen in a game all season. That being said, he failed to cash in on a dream matchup against an extremely ineffective Arizona secondary. Beckham is still stuck on just two touchdowns this season. His career-low in that category is three, which came in 2017 when he played in just four games. Beckham will be tough to trust in Week 16 against a tough Baltimore defense.

From RotoBaller

Jared Goff Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff went 33-for-51 for 284 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in Week 15. The Rams were never in the game, and Goff was forced to throw for the entirety. Goff will face off against the San Francisco 49ers Saturday in Week 16. The 49ers haven't been as stout against opposing quarterbacks of late, and Goff will be a low-end QB1.

From RotoBaller

Jarvis Landry Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry turned in a slow outing in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Landry caught five of his eight targets for just 23 yards in the loss. The slow outing goes down as a big letdown after Landry had been an extremely consistent fantasy option for much of the season. The slot receiver also got into an argument with head coach Freddie Kitchens early in the fourth quarter after a missed field goal. Things won't get much easier for Landry as he draws a tough Week 16 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

From RotoBaller

Todd Gurley Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley scored on the ground and in the air in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. The Rams actually fell behind early and never recovered. Gurley had 11 rushes for 20 yards and three catches for 18 yards. Those touchdowns salvaged what would have been a rough fantasy week. Gurley will be a solid RB2 against the San Francisco 49ers next week.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp salvaged a six-catch, 41-yard performance with a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday. Kupp was fifth on the team in targets as quarterback Jared Goff really hasn't connected well with him the last few weeks. Kupp will have a tough matchup in Week 16 against the San Francisco 49ers, but he'll be a low-end WR2.

From RotoBaller

Nick Chubb Dec 15 9:10pm ET

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb had a big game in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Chubb carried the ball 17 times for 127 yards and a touchdown while adding three receptions for 21 yards in the loss. The second-year running back also broke a two-game scoreless streak when he found the end zone for the eighth time this season. Chubb has been excellent this season but he will have his work cut out for him in Week 16 when he takes on a tough Baltimore Ravens Defense. He finished with 165 rushing yards and three touchdowns the last time these two teams met in Week 4, but Baltimore's defense is much improved since then. Treat him as more of a high-end RB2 for that matchup.

From RotoBaller

Kenyan Drake Dec 15 9:10pm ET

Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake lit it up in Week 15 with 137 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He was the first player in franchise history to score four times on the ground since 1993. He also had a nine-yard reception. Drake hadn't done much the last month, but he really put one on Sunday. He'll be a low-end RB2 in point-per-reception formats next week against the Seattle Seahawks.

From RotoBaller

Kyler Murray Dec 15 9:10pm ET

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was an efficient 19-for- 25 for 219 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday. He also rushed eight times for 56 yards. Murray spread the ball around to nine different targets, and no one had more than six looks. Murray isn't setting the world ablaze, but he is producing enough to be worthy of a low-end QB1 play against the Seattle Seahawks next week.

From RotoBaller

Christian Kirk Dec 15 9:10pm ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk caught four balls for 33 yards in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns. He also had a 28-yard rush. The entire passing attack was pretty quiet while running back Kenyan Drake scored four times on the ground. Kirk has the most upside of all the receivers, and he'll be a flex option against the Seattle Seahawks next week.

From RotoBaller

David Johnson Dec 15 9:10pm ET

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson rushed just three times for six yards and was not targeted in the passing game in Week 15. With Kenyan Drake putting four runs into the end zone this week, Johnson's roster viability has become grim. It's unlikely he'll have a big enough role the final two weeks to be more than a handcuff to Drake.

From RotoBaller