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.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery was actively shopped after the team guaranteed his 2020 salary last season. Jeffery found out that he was on the market and was troubled by the mixed messages he had received from the team, a source close to the receiver said.
Fantasy Spin: Jeffery is now 30 and has been riddled by injuries his entire career. He hasn't had a 1,000-yard season since 2014, and he has very minimal upside as a WR5.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins averaged 96 yards receiving in three playoff contests in 2019 after averaging 51.8 receiving yards in 13 regular-season outings.
Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack managed only three catches (four targets) for 14 yards in his final six games after producing 11 catches (13 targets) for 68 yards in his first eight outings.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne signed his one-year tender on Monday. Bourne had 30 receptions on 44 targets for 358 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in 16 games (zero starts) for the team in 2019. There is plenty of opportunity for Bourne and others to start in three-receiver sets in 2020 behind Deebo Samuel. With nine touchdowns in his last two seasons with the Niners, the 24-year-old has proven to be a nice red-zone presence for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but it remains to be seen if he can become a consistent starting option. There will be plenty of competition at the receiver position in San Fran, and they're also likely to address the position in the draft.
Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said that the team has "had internal discussions" about an extension for running back Christian McCaffrey. The stud running back is heading into the final year of his rookie deal, but the Panthers may wait and have him play on the fifth-year team option in 2021 before signing him to a long-term extension. Whether or not McCaffrey is playing with a new deal or not, he should be the No. 1 overall fantasy selection this fall. The 23-year-old former eighth overall pick ran the ball 287 times for a career-high 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns, while also catching 116 passes for 1,005 yards and another four scores.
Updating a previous report, free-agent S D.J. Swearinger (Saints) officially signed with the New Orleans Saints Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent WR Emmanuel Sanders (49ers) officially signed with the New Orleans Saints Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Fantasy Spin: Sanders is joining one of the top offenses in the NFL and should see a solid amount of targets in 2020. He can be a No. 3 or No. 4 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Updating previous reports, free-agent TE Richard Rodgers (Eagles) and CB Ronald Darby (Eagles) officially signed with the Washington Redskins Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent DE Benson Mayowa (Raiders) officially signed with the Seattle Seahawks Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating previous reports, free-agent FB Anthony Sherman (Chiefs) and DT Mike Pennel (Chiefs) officially re-signed with the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent DT Jordan Phillips (Bills) officially signed with the Arizona Cardinals Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent WR Geronimo Allison (Packers) officially signed with the Detroit Lions Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent RB Todd Gurley (Rams) officially signed with the Atlanta Falcons Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Fantasy Spin: Gurley will be the main running back for the Falcons next season and likely will be a weekly starting option in most fantasy leagues.
Miami Dolphins restricted free-agent LB Vince Biegel signed his one-year tender offer Monday, April 6. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent DE Cassius Marsh (Cardinals) officially signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent CB Rashaan Melvin (Lions) officially signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent LB Patrick Onwuasor (Ravens) officially signed with the New York Jets Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey could be a candidate for a contract extension in the near future, according to general manager Marty Hurney.
Fantasy Spin: McCaffrey is one of the top players in the NFL and should receive a lucrative extension at some point. He likely will be the first overall pick in most fantasy leagues in 2020.
Free-agent DT Carl Davis (Jaguars) re-signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars Monday, April 6. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) said his recovery is going fine and that he believes he would have been able to participate in some offseason workouts.
Fantasy Spin: Roethlisberger miss most of the 2019 season because of elbow surgery but appears to be on track for training camp and the 2020 season. He has played well over the last few seasons and could be a low-end No. 1 quarterback in fantasy leagues.