Thu Nov 14 6:49pm ET
By JOE REEDY
AP Sports Writer
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:
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.
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.”
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.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram rushed for 59 yards on 15 attempts in Week 13's win over the 49ers. Ingram could produce a healthy amount of production against a Bills Defense with a weakness against the run. Ingram will continue to share the ball with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, but he is still the No. 1 option in the backfield and will get the majority of touches. If the Ravens can get the run game going early, Ingram has a good chance to get in the end zone. He is an RB2 going into Sunday's Week 13 matchup.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown caught 1-of-2 targets for one yard in Week 13 against the 49ers. Prior to last week, Brown hadn't been targeted less than four times in a game this season. Part of Brown's lack of involvement was due to Baltimore attacking San Francisco with its run game, but his output was disappointing, to say the least. The Ravens matchup against a Buffalo Bills Defense in Week 14 that has been stingy to opposing wide receivers. Hollywood is a touchdown-dependent play against Buffalo and stands in low-end WR3 territory.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews caught 3-of-6 targets for 50 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers in Week 13. Andrews was able to produce a solid performance despite playing a stout 49ers Defense. Baltimore matches up against a Bills Defense in Week 14 that has allowed only two touchdowns to opposing tight ends in 2019, including one to Jason Witten in Week 13. As the most heavily targeted option in Baltimore, Andrews is still a TE1 as reliable tight ends are scarce.
Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers has turned his season around since his hiccoughs against Tampa Bay, and he'll need to be on point against a dangerous Rams team this weekend. Last time, Seattle squeaked out a victory thanks to a last-second shanked field goal by the Rams kicker, so Myers was bailed out for missing one of his own earlier in the game. Now he comes into the game having made six straight field goals and nine straight extra points. Expect Pete Carroll to continue to depend mightily on Myers, and he could be just what a desperate fantasy owner needs to finish out the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks linebacker Mychal Kendricks is doubtful to go against the Rams on Sunday night due to a hamstring injury that has lingered all week. That means the Seahawks Defense will likely be starting rookie linebacker Cody Barton when they take the field in the Coliseum. The third-round pick out of Utah has gotten nothing but effusive praise from head coach Pete Carroll, but the notoriously upbeat coach is usually overflowing with praise about every player in the league. The good news is that Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah are both expected to be able to go, so hopefully the pass rush can stay mean and buy some more time for the newbie when he's in coverage.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett has had a rough couple of weeks, but hopes are high for Sunday's primetime game against the Rams. Lockett was downed with a serious shin contusion at the end of the 49ers game four weeks ago, and then just as he fully recovered from that, he was one of a handful of Seahawks to come down with the flu before the Vikings game. He made it through, but he didn't catch any balls along the way. Now removed from both issues, Lockett is expected to be back to full speed against the Rams, a team he's traditionally had a lot of success against. Fantasy owners should find solace in that.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf snuck behind the defense and hauled in a bomb from Russell Wilson for a touchdown in his first career game against the Rams, and LA is definitely preparing to try to prevent that from happening again. Metcalf has excelled in that arena, hauling in a pass for 20 or more yards in nine of his 12 games this season, and fantasy owners should bank on Seattle looking for Metcalf downfield once again on Sunday night. The workout wonder has grown throughout the season and turned into more of a possession receiver while Tyler Lockett was hampered with a leg injury, but Lockett is expected to be back to full speed on Sunday, which should give Metcalf the freedom to roam a little more. Expect to see at least one long bomb with his name on it.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson was one of the team's strongest weapons when they beat the Rams at home earlier this year, and he'll need to bring that same fire to LA if Seattle is going to come out on top again. Carson has been a beastly back this year, even if the recent surge of carries for Rashaad Penny has hurt fantasy owners. Carson has shown that he welcomes the addition of Penny to the mix, so expect him to share the load once again, but Carson remains the No. 1 option for the team. Any owner isn't going to turn away from him at this point, and Carson should easily clear the 1,000-yard hurdle in 2019 by putting up another strong game against his division rival.
Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny was bombarded with insults earlier in the season when he continued to struggle to find his footing in the NFL, but his last two games have silenced a whole lot of those critics. Now, he'll get another go at one of the team's bitter division rivals in primetime on Sunday night. Penny tallied just 18 yards on six carries last time he saw LA, but now he's coming off back-to-back thrashings of the Philadelphia and Minnesota defenses. Penny's impressive performances will likely keep his name in the mix throughout the game, and he should continue to show considerable improvement over his previous version.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson put up a huge game against the Rams last time out, and he'll need another top-tier performance if Seattle's going to hang on to first place in the NFC West. Unfortunately, the LA defense has had a renaissance since the last time Wilson saw them. They have allowed 20 or fewer points in six of their last seven games with the only outlier being the drubbing that Baltimore gave them. Now on Sunday night, Wilson will need to summon all his magic to ensure Seattle can bring home a victory. Fortunately, Wilson specializes at excelling in primetime. He should put up some big numbers on Sunday night.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson threw for 105 yards, ran for 101 yards and scored a touchdown through the air and on the ground in Week 13's win over the 49ers. The Ravens have another tough defensive matchup in Week 14 in Buffalo. The Bills Defense has conceded only nine passing touchdowns this season and has held opposing quarterbacks to an average of 12 fantasy points per game. Jackson remains in must-start territory for this game and for the rest of the season, if it wasn't already obvious. The Bills defense has allowed 109 rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks in 2019, but Jackson ran for eight yards shy of that in last week against San Francisco. Jackson simply cannot be sat.
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell (illness) has been officially ruled out for the Week 14 game against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday at 1 pm ET. The timing is not ideal for fantasy football owners, with most leagues starting their first round playoff matchups this week and now missing a top running back. Expect Bilal Powell to step in as the leading running back for the Jets on Sunday, with Ty Montgomery likely seeing increased usage as well.
Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa will be looking to get back on track when the Chargers visit the Jaguars on Sunday this week. Bosa, who has 8.5 sacks on the season, has been held without one in over a month. This week, he'll face rookie Gardner Minshew, newly appointed starter for the Jaguars after Nick Foles fell flat over the last couple games. Minshew is much more agile and improvisational than Foles, but he's also raw and hopefully someone that Bosa can catch making a mistake or two. The Chargers Defense has been up and down recently, but a strong showing against a fellow disappointing team could help right the ship for the last few games of the season.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley was booming balls a mile up in the sky last week, but he'll be back down near sea level this go around. Badgley missed a 55-yarder in Denver last week, and he'll be just 16 feet above sea level in Week 14 when he is kicking in Jacksonville. Badgley is a far cry from where he was last season, making just 76% of his kicks this year as compared to the 93.8% he knocked through in 2018. Also, while he was perfect in kicks less than 50 yards in length last year, he's missed two such kicks this season. Badgley isn't a terrible kicker, especially compared to some in LA's history, but he certainly hasn't lived up to his billing.
The Cleveland Browns activated tight end David Njoku from injured reserve on Saturday. Njoku fractured his wrist during Week 2 against the New York Jets and has spent most of the season on the sidelines. Njoku is not expected to be limited on Sunday, which will push Demetrius Harris, Stephen Carlson, and Ricky Seals-Jones back to reserve roles. Njoku's next two weeks set up perfectly in fantasy as he will face two teams that struggle to contain tight ends in Cincinnati and the Arizona Cardinals. Njoku's return is an instant boost to Baker Mayfield's stock as the team has been missing a red-zone presence this season.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry will have his work cut out for him in Week 14. Henry will be facing off against a Jacksonville defense that has been one of the stingiest in the land versus opposing tight ends. Jacksonville's held opposing tight ends to zero touchdowns in the last four weeks, and they're top-10 in limiting the production of opposing tight ends this season. Henry had been on a hot streak until last week when he got shut down by Denver, so he could use a bounce back. Unfortunately, the Jaguars' difficult defense makes a big week unlikely, though most owners won't be able to pass up the tantalizing possibilities of a big week from the young TE.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen is making up for lost time by racking up touchdowns in two straight games. Now, he'll face another stout defensive backfield that is tied for the fourth-fewest receiving touchdowns this season. Jacksonville has allowed quite a few yards to wideouts, but they've been able to keep them out of the end zone. Allen has done a good job of hauling in passes sent his way this year, but he's still pulling himself out of the doldrums where he struggled to get meaningful yardage in the middle of the year. He's been on a roll the last few weeks though, and he should find a way to continue that momentum this week. Expect solid numbers for the fantasy playoffs.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams went huge last week against the Denver Broncos, and he'll be looking to continue building on his progress. Williams racked up 117 yards as he was the go-to receiver for deep passes, giving him a new career-high. He'll now turn his sights on the Jaguars, a less dominant secondary than that of the Broncos. However, in this case, them being less dominant may actually cut into Williams' production instead of helping it. One of the natural ways Denver's stingy secondary helped Williams is that Philip Rivers wanted to avoid Chris Harris Jr, who shadowed Keenan Allen all day. Jacksonville's secondary isn't so top-heavy, so Williams may not see as much work and Allen may see more. Williams has shown he can be a superstar though, so Rivers should still find him for a big play or two no matter what,
Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has been on a roll recently, and that train shouldn't slow down on Sunday against Jacksonville. Gordon has posted 90 or more yards from scrimmage in four straight games, and he's about to face one of the worst rushing defenses in the entire league. The Jaguars have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards and second-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL, and Gordon has returned to his full form. Expect Gordon to be a linchpin in the Chargers offense this week, and he could be one of the highest-performing players across the league.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has once again proven that he can still be a productive fantasy weapon even when Melvin Gordon is fully healthy and performing, and he should continue some of that production this week against a Jacksonville defense that is extremely susceptible to running backs. Ekeler has touched the ball 34 times in the last three games, and he's racked up 247 yards on those touches, averaging 7.27 yards per touch. He's also scored a pair of touchdowns, and fantasy owners should look for him to be attacking the end zone once again this week. Since Ekeler is officially a backup, there's always the possibility of a dud if the coaching staff decides to push the ball elsewhere, but his recent production more than warrants continued use.