Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, left, rushes against Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) rushes past Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (31) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) rushes against Kansas City Chiefs defenders in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Tristan Vizcaino right, celebrates with punter Ty Long after making a field goal during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is hit by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons as he throws during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, right, is tackled by Dallas Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull )
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis )
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) You'd be hard pressed to find anyone a couple of weeks ago that didn't think Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs were headed for their sixth consecutive AFC West championship this season.
It would have been just as tough finding anyone who didn't think the Los Angeles Chargers would finish right behind them.
Yet after the Chargers lost a heartbreaker to the Cowboys last weekend, and the Chiefs fumbled away a win in Baltimore on Sunday night, the longtime rivals find themselves in the most unexpected of circumstances this week: Los Angeles is headed to Kansas City for a matchup where the loser finds itself at 1-2 and in the division cellar.
''I think everybody is ready to go,'' Mahomes said this week. ''We lost to a really good football team. It was a really good football game. But it's still a long season. We have an AFC West opponent, a great team, coming to town, so you have to turn the page and get on to the next opponent.''
Both teams have plenty of issues to sort out inside Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chargers struggled to stop the Dallas run, their offense couldn't get into the end zone despite several promising drives, and self-inflected wounds - turnovers, interceptions and penalties - cost them a potentially winning touchdown.
The result was a frustrating 20-17 loss at SoFi Stadium.
''There are always things to clean up,'' said Herbert, who threw two interceptions against the Cowboys, one of them in the end zone. ''Whether that's our protection plan, our routes, our run game - we have to do better with it all.''
Herbert also acknowledged the Chargers need to ''put up more points,'' and that's especially true against the Chiefs, who are third in the league in scoring through the first two weeks despite their 36-35 loss to the Ravens last weekend.
That defeat exposed plenty of problems in Kansas City, too: The Chiefs couldn't stop the run game, failed to pressure the quarterback, struggled to establish their own run game and had plenty of turnovers and penalties of their own.
''I understand the question about rallying the guys,'' Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said, ''but again, it's only two games in, and we've played two of the best teams in the conference.''
They're about to play another one Sunday. And the loser will be looking up at them - along with the unbeaten Raiders and Broncos - in a division race that could end up being a lot more interesting than some people thought.
''I think that they're still trying to find their way, just like every other NFL team is right now,'' Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. ''I don't think any team that is playing in the NFL is where they're going to be in January. I think every team is kind of finding itself. But Kansas City is as good as it gets. Their record speaks for itself the last three years.''
While the Chiefs are mostly healthy, the Chargers have plenty of question marks. Defensive lineman Justin Jones (calf), safety Derwin James Jr. (toe), linebacker Joey Bosa (foot) and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (shoulder) did not practice early in the week, and it's possible that Harris could be a game-time decision.
RED ZONE WOES
The Chargers are effective at moving the ball between the 20s, but are struggling to score touchdowns once they get into the red zone. Los Angeles has only three TDs in 10 opportunities with four field goals and three turnovers.
''Really, they're little things. They're not these huge, hot-button items, where you're saying, `Man, we're in trouble,' I certainly don't feel that way,'' Staley said. ''It's just a lot of little things within how we deploy our personnel, how we play techniques.''
PICK YOUR POISON
Most teams have to decide whether to double cover Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce or wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The Ravens went with Hill, limiting his touches, but Kelce still had seven grabs for 109 yards last week. That gave him 8,066 yards for his career, and he needs just 284 to pass Jimmy Graham for seventh among NFL tight ends.
ON THE RUN
Much like the Chiefs, who have the worst rush defense in the NFL through two games, Staley wants to see the Chargers shore up the defensive line this week. Los Angeles allowed 6.4 yards per carry to the Cowboys.
''The runs that split us, we were in good run defenses that weren't executed well. A big part of execution is knowing what to do and how to do it,'' Staley said. ''As I said, that's me as a coach defining it better for our players.''
ON THE RUN, PART II
Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has just 27 carries for 89 yards through two games, and his fumble with just over a minute left against Baltimore cost Kansas City the opportunity to kick a potentially winning field goal.
Kelce was asked what he told Edwards-Helaire after the game: ''Man up. It is what it is,'' he replied, ''and that's not just Clyde. That's anyone in the building and in the locker room. We will never point fingers and say it's just one person's loss. That is not how we roll at Kansas City. We'll fix it in the four quarters of football. We'll fix it.''
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) missed another practice on Tuesday. His DNP designation on Monday came on the estimated practice report, but he actually missed practice on Tuesday. Beckham is looking truly questionable after missing some game time in the Week 6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. It could be a death blow to Cleveland's offense, as they'll also be without both starting running backs Nick Chubb (calf) and Kareem Hunt (calf). If OBJ cannot play on Thursday night against the Denver Broncos, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashard Higgins and rookie Anthony Schwartz would operate in three-receiver sets if Jarvis Landry isn't ready to come off Injured Reserve. Peoples-Jones would be the most attractive after going for nine catches (11 targets), 171 yards and two touchdowns in the last two weeks.
New York Giants OT Korey Cunningham and WR Dante Pettis were signed off the practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 19.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Rashard Robinson was signed off the practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 19.
The New York Giants placed left tackle Andrew Thomas (ankle, foot) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, so he'll be forced to miss at least the next three games. Thomas is dealing with a right foot injury and also a left ankle issue, so he was pretty hobbled in the Week 6 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The Giants offensive line will be more vulnerable in the near future, beginning in a Week 7 matchup with the Carolina Panthers. It's bad news for quarterback Daniel Jones, especially if he's without starting running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) for a second straight game this weekend. Expect Matt Peart to fill in on Jones' blind side in the immediate future.
Denver Broncos WR David Moore was released Tuesday, Oct. 19.
New York Giants rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney (ankle) is expected to be out for at least one game, according to a source. However, as of right now, it doesn't sound like the Giants plan on placing Toney on Injured Reserve, which would require him to miss at least three games. The 22-year-old first-rounder exploded for 10 catches and 189 yards in Week 5 when Kenny Golladay injured his knee, and he was in line for another big role in the Week 6 loss to the Los Angeles Rams before he aggravated his ankle on Sunday. Toney should remain involved in the passing game whenever he returns from his ankle injury, so he's worth stashing in deeper leagues. With Golladay not a lock to return in Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers, Sterling Shepard could be in line for a massive target share.
Chicago Bears S Deon Bush (quad) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 19. DB Teez Tabor was signed off the practice squad to replace him on the roster.
Free-agent RB Chris Thompson was signed to the practice squad of the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, Oct. 19.
New Orleans Saints LB Kwon Alexander (elbow), DE Marcus Davenport (shoulder) and WR Tre'Quan Smith (hamstring) were designated for return from the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 19.
The Indianapolis Colts are signing defensive tackle Antwaun Woods to their active roster on Tuesday, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Woods was signed to the Colts practice squad before the Week 3 game against the Tennessee Titans, but he was released last week. He'll now rejoin the team and provide defensive line depth at nose tackle. Woods, 28, recorded 23 tackles (seven solo), two QB hits and a sack in 14 games (seven starts) for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. He played on just 18% of the defensive snaps and had one solo tackle in the Week 3 loss to the Titans. Woods will serve in a rotational role once again.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder), RB Nick Chubb (calf), OT Jack Conklin (knee), A.J. Z. Green (shoulder, groin), C JC Tretter (knee) and OT Jedrick Wills (ankle) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Oct. 19. DE Jadeveon Clowney (ankle, chest, knee), DE Malik Jackson (knee), QB Baker Mayfield (shoulder), TE David Njoku (limited), LB Malcolm Smith (abdomen), and LB Mack Wilson (calf) were limited. DE Myles Garrett (knee, ankle), DE Takkarist McKinley (ankle), DT Malik McDowell (elbow, foot), CB Greg Newsome (calf), CB Denzel Ward (neck) and CB Greedy Williams (knee) practiced in full. The Browns did not practice Tuesday, so the report is an estimation.
Chicago Bears DE Robert Quinn was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Oct. 19.
Denver Broncos LB Baron Browning (concussion), S Caden Stearns (illness), LB Alexander Johnson (chest), LB Andre Mintze (hamstring) and LB Aaron Patrick (ankle) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Oct. 19. OT Garett Bolles (knee), QB Teddy Bridgewater (foot) and TE Noah Fant (foot) were limited. RB Melvin Gordon (hip), DE Shelby Harris (wrist) and S Justin Simmons (hand) practiced in full. The Broncos did not practice Tuesday, so the report is an estimation.
Baltimore Ravens RB Le'Veon Bell was signed off the practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 19.
Cleveland Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson said that he's excited to get the start on Thursday night against the Denver Broncos with both Nick Chubb (calf) and Kareem Hunt (calf) out. Johnson will be a popular waiver-wire target this week with Chubb set to miss his second straight game and Hunt on Injured Reserve. He has only three carries for 11 yards and one catch for seven yards in six games this season, but he should get the nominal start and be the team's primary option on early downs. Rookie Demetric Felton should also have an opportunity for a much bigger role, mainly on passing downs. It's unclear if Chubb is in danger of missing the Week 8 game, but Johnson will at least be in the RB3/flex mix for fantasy managers with the bye-week blues or for those dealing with injuries at the position.
The Minnesota Vikings activated rookie running back Kene Nwangwu (knee) from Injured Reserve on Tuesday and released running back Ameer Abdullah in a corresponding move. Nwangwu was a fourth-round pick this year out of Iowa State and will now serve as the team's No. 3 running back behind Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. Abdullah carried the ball seven times for 30 yards and caught three of four targets for 17 yards in six games with the Vikings this year. Minnesota is on bye in Week 7 before facing the Dallas Cowboys at home in Week 8.
The Indianapolis Colts placed wide receiver Parris Campbell (foot) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday and also waived quarterback Jacob Eason and defensive tackle Chris Williams. Kicker Michael Badgley was elevated to the active 53-man roster and quarterback Sam Ehlinger was activated from Injured Reserve. The injury bug hit Campbell yet again in the Week 6 win over the Houston Texans, but he caught his only target for a 51-yard touchdown before leaving the game. The 24-year-old will miss at least the next three weeks of action after catching 10 of his 17 targets for 162 yards and the one touchdown in five games this year. With T.Y. Hilton back in the fold, Zach Pascal should operate as the No. 3 receiver in the Colts offense behind Hilton and Michael Pittman Jr.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has had a tough start to his sophomore season, catching just eight passes for 90 yards and a touchdown as we head into Week 7. General manager John Lynch said in a recent interview that the 49ers still "very much believe in" Aiyuk. Time will tell if the former Arizona State star can get back on track and build on his impressive rookie season, as the struggling 49ers need all the help they can get. If he is going to carve out a more significant role in the offense, Week 7 would be the perfect time to do so against a weak Indianapolis Colts pass defense. The former first-round pick shouldn't be trusted in fantasy lineups just yet, but he could be someone to monitor if he is on the waiver wire.