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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt carried the ball four times for 14 yards and added eight catches for 62 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Hunt didn't get much going on the ground but he made an impression in the passing attack, finishing second in receiving behind only Odell Beckham Jr. Hunt has been busy in the passing game this season, having caught at least five passes in four of his six games played. Hunt will be a high-end RB3 in Week 16 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had three catches for 42 yards in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns. Fitz is routinely the second-most targeted receiver, but he isn't doing a lot with the looks. He'll be a flex option against the Seattle Seahawks in point-per-reception leagues next week, but his upside is minimal.
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson was sparingly involved in his team's passing attack on Sunday, seeing just three targets and catching two of them. This was disappointing on a number of fronts, starting with the fact that Thompson had led the Redskins in targets and receptions a week ago. Sunday's game was precisely the type of back-and-forth scoring festival in which a pass-catching RB like Thompson would figure to have a healthy share of chances, but instead Thompson saw the same number of targets as Adrian Peterson. If he didn't have a role in this game, it's hard to trust that he'll see any dependable level of work over the season's final two weeks.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Damiere Byrd led the team with six grabs for 86 yards in Week 15. It was his best game of the season, but he doesn't possess enough upside to be worth a waiver claim at this time. Keep him on the watch list.
San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould hit all three of his field goal attempts in Week 15 against the Falcons. Two of his attempts in the game were from over 40 yards. Unfortunately, he only converted one of his two extra-point attempts. Gould is now 19-for-27 on field goal attempts this year. He's a solid low-end starting kicker option as the 49ers provide him a decent amount of kicking opportunities.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 30-of-43 passes for 247 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Mayfield also added 11 rushing yards on two carries in the lopsided loss. Mayfield didn't play particularly poorly in the outing, although he did underwhelm against a Cardinals pass defense that is one of the worst in the league. Mayfield will not be a recommended fantasy option for Week 16 as he will face a tough Baltimore Ravens Defense.
Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson overcame a difficult matchup en route to a respectable fantasy outing on Sunday against the Eagles. Peterson racked up 66 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, adding another 25 yards on three receptions. The veteran running back has reached the level of dependability at which he can usually be trusted to return solid value as long as he sees enough opportunities. He has seen 13 or more carries in seven games this year, and has produced at least 66 yards rushing in all seven. Peterson has also scored in three straight games after not having done so since Week 2. He has to receive genuine consideration for fantasy lineups in the championship round.
The 49ers Defense wasn't able to contain the Falcons offense or force many miscues in Week 15. The Falcons put 29 points on the board and only turned the ball over once via a lost fumble. The 49ers were able to sack quarterback Matt Ryan twice in the game, but Ryan managed to have a solid game otherwise. The 49ers defense is a very matchup-dependent starting option and the Falcons were a bit of a borderline call as they've been up-and-down all year. Next week, the 49ers face the Rams, another team that's been up-and-down. The safest call is to probably find an alternative to the 49ers defense next week.
Washington Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins completed 19 of 28 throws for 261 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's loss to the Eagles. For the first time in more than a month, Haskins completed over 60% of his passes. Sunday also marked a career-high for passing yards and was the second time the rookie threw multiple touchdowns. An otherwise mistake-free outing was upended on the last play of the game, when Haskins fumbled to give the Eagles a defensive touchdown. By and large, Haskins took a major step in the right direction with his Week 15 effort in a divisional game. We're looking for building blocks that may translate into a prominent fantasy status in 2020, and games like these help set the table for that possibility.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel earned three targets against the Falcons in Week 15 and managed just one catch for 29 yards. He also had an eight-yard rush in the game. Samuel had been on a hot streak coming into this game with either five-or-more catches or a touchdown in five straight games. Despite a favorable matchup against the Falcons, the 49ers offense struggled as a whole in this game. Samuel and the 49ers will look to get back on track against the Rams in Week 16.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was held to just two catches for nine yards on four targets in Week 15 against the Falcons. Sanders was coming off of a remarkable 157-yard performance against the Saints in Week 14, so it was surprising to see him struggle to make his mark against a very generous Falcons pass defense. Fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel only had one catch in this game and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo only threw for 200 yards, so it was a rough day for the 49ers offense as a whole. Sanders will look to bounce back against the Rams in Week 16.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida had a rough game against the Falcons in Week 15. He fumbled twice, though only one was recovered by the Falcons. He had four carries in the game and managed just 11 yards and he caught both of his targets in the passing game for six yards. Raheem Mostert was the focal point of the 49ers' run game again this week. Mostert had 14 carries in the game. Breida was equalled in carries by Tevin Coleman, though Coleman outperformed him, gaining 40 yards on his four carries thanks to a 37-yard rush.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman rushed the ball four times for 40 yards in Week 15 against the Falcons. He had a 37-yard rush that was the team's biggest play from scrimmage on the day. This was the third straight game in which Coleman was held to five-or-fewer carries. Raheem Mostert has taken over as the No. 1 running back in San Francisco and he had 14 carries in this game. Coleman, meanwhile, is sharing No. 2 back duties with Matt Breida, though Coleman outperformed Breida in this game. Coleman is a drop candidate in any season-long league that ends in Week 16.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle had a monstrous game in Week 15 against the Falcons. He caught 13 of his 17 targets for a season-high 134 yards, his third 100-yard game of the year. This was the first time all year that Kittle had earned over 10 targets and also the first time that he'd had double-digit receptions. Kittle is a stud and an absolute must-start tight end. He'll look to stay hot as the team takes on the Rams in Week 16.
Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky completed 29-of-53 passes for 334 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in Week 15 against the Green Bay Packers. He also ran for 29 yards.
Fantasy Spin: The Bears managed to do a little better offensively than Week 1 against the Packers, but they were still lacking. Trubisky remains more of a QB2 in most fantasy leagues heading into Week 16 against the Kansas City Chiefs.