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.
Following a series of ho-hum weeks through the middle of the season, Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has been on a hot streak of late, racking up 27 catches and 290 yards receiving over the last four games. Allen was able to haul in a pair of touchdowns over the stretch as well, and he has put up 68 or more receiving yards in each of the games. That said, Allen will be facing a tough matchup as he'll possibly be lining up across from Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and the rest of an intimidating Minnesota secondary. With the Vikings on a hot offensive streak, don't be surprised if LA is playing catch-up and Allen sees plenty of chances. He'll just have to fight his way through a lot of coverage to bring them in.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker (concussion) has cleared the league's concussion protocol and will play on Sunday against the New York Giants. The Giants are starting four rookies in the secondary and Parker and the Dolphins shouldn't have too hard a time moving the ball. Parker is a strong WR2 with a nice ceiling for the fantasy semifinals this week. Parker's fellow Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson also cleared the protocol and will suit up for Sunday's game.
New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley said he is feeling 'healthier and healthier' ahead of a Week 15 matchup with a Miami Dolphins team ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing defense.
Fantasy Spin: Barkley hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game since Week 2, and he has gone five straight games without scoring. He has been one of the bigger fantasy disappointments this season, but RB2 numbers should be possible in Week 15 with a friendly matchup on tap.
Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list, Saturday, Dec. 14.
Fantasy Spin: The knee injury certainly won't help the former first-round pick establish himself as the potential starter in Seattle in 2020. If you own Penny in a dynasty league, you just have to stash him and hope he eventually turns things around.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman has seen his targets decrease since Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins returned healthy. He's seen one target over the last two games, but that catch was a 48-yard touchdown. Hardman doesn't see enough targets to warrant owning in most formats. He's a touchdown-dependent receiver that is only worth using in the deepest of leagues. It's unclear how he'll be worked into the game plan, so he's risky for fantasy formats.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has been arguably the best tight end in the NFL alongside George Kittle. Kelce is expected to easily surpass 1,000 receiving yards on the season during the Week 15 matchup with the Denver Broncos. Kelce should be in for a solid game against the average Broncos Defense. Fantasy owners have been able to count on Kelce basically every week this season. He'll remain a TE1 for this home matchup with Denver.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins has been unable to live up to his epic Week 1 performance. He's been able to carry enough fantasy value worth rostering him in most 12-team leagues, but hasn't scored since Week 1. Watkins heads into a matchup against the Denver Broncos in Week 15. The Broncos Defense has allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, according to Yahoo Sports. Fantasy owners should consider Watkins a WR3 or flex option for Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson has seen increased involvement in the offense the last two games. Damien Williams (ribs) and Darrel Williams (hamstring) both being sidelined has given Thompson an opportunity in the backfield. Damien has a chance to play in Sunday's Week 15 contest against the Denver Broncos. Having him back might push Thompson out of the backfield rotation. Thompson showed promise in the passing game when he caught four passes for 36 yards versus the Patriots in Week 14. Thompson could again have value in the passing game if Williams is forced to sit out again. He's only a deep league option at this point, but he could have some flex value if Williams remains out.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill has been a reliable fantasy option throughout most of the season. However, Hill has been unable to find the end zone through the last three games. He's heading into a matchup with the Denver Broncos in Week 15. The same team that he caught three passes for 74 yards and a touchdown on in Week 7. Fantasy owners should feel confident that Hill can be a WR1 for this home matchup with Denver. Hill has caught at least five receptions in each of the last two games.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy has been the lead back lately with Damien Williams (ribs) sidelined. However, Williams is listed as questionable for Sunday's Week 15 matchup with the Broncos. McCoy saw 11 rushing attempts for 39 yards during the Week 14 victory over New England. He might end up getting another start, but will battle with Darwin Thompson and Spencer Ware for carries. McCoy is basically a touchdown-dependent option that will be handcuffed to around 10 to 12 carries.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (ribs) is listed as questionable for Sunday's Week 15 matchup with the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs backfield is a mess with LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson, and Spencer Ware all in the mix. Williams has missed the last two games and could be limited, assuming he plays on Sunday. It's uncertain how many touches Williams would see even fully healthy. He's going to be a touchdown-dependent fantasy option that most owners should avoid for Week 15.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown three touchdowns and two interceptions over his last three games. Mahomes is normally an elite fantasy option every week, but has been slowed down recently. He should bounce back nicely against the Denver Broncos in Week 15. Mahomes completed 10 of 11 passing attempts for 76 yards and one touchdown last time he faced the Broncos in Week 7. However, Mahomes was injured during the game, but was playing very well before that. Fantasy owners should feel confident that Mahomes will bounce back here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston (knee, thumb), will play Sunday, Dec. 15, against the Detroit Lions, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN Saturday, Dec. 14. He is officially listed as questionable.
Fantasy Spin: Winston has produced much better fantasy numbers than real-world results this season. He threw for a season-high 456 yards last week against the Indianapolis Colts while matching a season-high with four touchdowns but he also threw three interceptions for the fourth time this season. He's a low-end QB1.
Free-agent LB Terrell Suggs (Cardinals) will strongly consider not reporting to any team that claims him on waivers by 4 p.m. ET Monday, Dec. 16, if not the Baltimore Ravens, according to league sources Saturday, Dec. 14.
Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson (concussion) cleared the NFL's concussion protocol Saturday, Dec. 14, and is expected to be available for the game Sunday, Dec. 15, against the New York Giants.
Fantasy Spin: Wilson hasn't reached the end zone since Week 8 and he hasn't topped 33 receiving yards in a single game this season. He isn't a fantasy consideration in anything but the deepest of leagues, even in the great Week 15 matchup.
Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (concussion) cleared the league's concussion protocol Saturday, Dec. 14, and will be available to play against the New York Giants Sunday, Dec. 15.
Fantasy Spin: Parker has enjoyed a breakout season and had topped 130 receiving yards in two of his previous three games before leaving early due to injury last week. He's a WR2 in a great matchup against the Giants this week.
Cleveland Browns LB Joe Schobert has not heard from the team in months in regard to a contract extension and will likely be allowed to walk in free agency, according to a league source Saturday, Dec. 14.
Washington Redskins WR Paul Richardson (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Dec. 14. OT Timon Parris was signed to the active roster from the practice squad.
Houston Texans RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring) won't travel with the team and has been ruled out of the game Sunday, Dec. 15, against the Tennessee Titans.
New Orleans Saints TE Jared Cook (concussion) practiced in full again Saturday, Dec. 14, and was taken off the Week 15 injury report.
Fantasy Spin: Cook is a top-flight TE1 due to his red-zone usage in the second half of the season. He has four touchdowns over his last four games.