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.
Five Hot Starts: Week 4
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II is coming off a disappointing Week 3 performance in which he failed to throw for a touchdown despite completing 71.43 percent of his passes. Now, Minshew will look to bounce back against the Bengals on Sunday. The problem? Cincinnati is only allowing 16.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, the eighth-lowest mark in the NFL. Maybe that success can be attributed to the quarterbacks they've faced so far, but with Minshew not being an elite passer, it's best to consider him as a risky, low-end QB2 at best in Week 4.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (hamstring) returned to practice in a limited fashion on Thursday after sitting out of the team's Week 3 win over the Saints. Adams did very little (three catches, 36 yards) when he was hurt in Week 2, but he went off for 14 receptions, 156 yards and two scores in the season-opener on 17 targets against the Vikings. It looks like Adams is on track to return for the Monday night matchup with the Falcons and their shaky secondary, so Green Bay's All-Pro wideout will once again be a must-start high-end WR1 for his fantasy managers. Allen Lazard, who had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown last week in Adams' absence, will be a boom/bust WR3/flex with Adams on track to return this week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (core), who stepped up with 146 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 3 against the Saints, has a new core muscle injury and did not practice on Thursday. It helped that Davante Adams (hamstring) was inactive last Sunday night, but Lazard has gained a lot of chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and seems to be the preferred target behind Adams. His status will be one to watch for Monday Night Football against the Falcons this week, but if he's questionable for that one, fantasy managers should look for better options. If Lazard were to sit out this week, Marquez Valdes-Scantling could step up as a flex option in deeper leagues.
Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith (back) returned to practice on a limited basis on Thursday for the first time in a few weeks. Smith played in the season-opener but hasn't been on the field since, but it looks like he has a chance to return to the starting unit this Sunday against the Browns. Dallas really needs the 29-year-old in the fold, as they're already short-handed on the offensive line. Smith's return would be great news for quarterback Dak Prescott, who has performed admirably the last two weeks without his starting blind-side protector. Cleveland has a pretty nasty pass rush, so Smith would help a depleted offensive line as the Cowboys seek their second win of the season.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (back) was added to the injury report on Thursday with a back injury that he's working through. Beckham was officially limited in Thursday's practice, so it looks like he still has a good shot at suiting up in Week 4 against the Cowboys. Through three games in 2020, OBJ has 11 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown and is seeing consistent enough targets to make him a solid WR2 each and every week. This Sunday against a Dallas offense that hasn't had trouble putting points on the board, the Browns figure to throw the ball frequently. The Cowboys secondary is also allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to the receiver position.
New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco (neck) is active for the Thursday night game against the Broncos as Sam Darnold's backup. With Flacco active, the team released quarterback Mike White. The 35-year-old Flacco is purely a clipboard holder for Darnold as long as he's healthy, which makes him useless in fantasy football. Never much of a fantasy asset even during his prime with Baltimore, the Jets would be in even more trouble if they were forced to use him as their starter in the event of a Darnold injury. New York also has rookie signal-caller James Morgan on their roster behind Flacco.
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Jones was not able to play last week because of the injury but appears to be on track to play this week. He has been one of the top receivers in the NFL for several season and should be a weekly starting option when healthy.
New Orleans Saints OG Andrus Peat (ankle), TE Jared Cook (groin), DE Marcus Davenport (elbow) and CB Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 1. CB Janoris Jenkins (illness), WR Michael Thomas (ankle) and LB Chase Hansen (hip) were limited. DT David Onyemata (calf) was not given a practice designation.
Atlanta Falcons WR Russell Gage Jr. (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Gage still needs to pass his concussion tests before he is cleared to play, so fantasy players should know more about his status in a few days. He will receive a handful of targets if he plays and could be a flex option in deeper leagues.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore faces a tough matchup in Week 4 against Arizona. No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to the wide receiver position than the Cardinals, though fellow number-one wideouts Terry McLaurin and Kenny Golladay were able to post good numbers against this defense. Moore is of a similar talent level to those two and commands a whopping 49.4% of his team's targeted air yards, which ranks second in the league. The second-year pro also ranks 11th in the league in targets, so he's seeing ample opportunity. In a game where Carolina may be forced to throw more, fantasy managers can plug Moore in as a solid WR2 with upside.
New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (elbow) and cornerback Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) didn't take part in the portion of practice open to the media on Thursday. As key members of the team's defense, their statuses are something to watch heading into Week 4 against the Lions. Lattimore tweaked his hamstring in practice on Wednesday, but the injury isn't considered serious. The 24-year-old has 15 tackles through three games for the Saints, and his absence this Sunday would be good news for Lions star receiver Kenny Golladay, who scored a touchdown in his season debut in Week 3. If one or both of Davenport or Lattimore are inactive, it makes New Orleans' defense a less-appealing fantasy streamer.
New York Jets WR Jeff Smith was activated from the Reserve/Injured list Thursday, Oct. 1. Free-agent CB Javelin Guidry was also elevated from the practice squad. QB Mike White and CB Nate Hairston were released to make room on the roster.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation to see if Ridley is in any danger of missing the Week 4 game. He has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL this season and is a must-start option in all leagues if he plays.
Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills WR John Brown (calf) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Brown appears to have a good chance to play, but fantasy players will know more about the situation in the next few days. He was been playing well this season and can be a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues if he plays.
Cleveland Browns DE Adrian Clayborn (hip), LB Tae Davis (elbow), RB Kareem Hunt (groin) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 1. S Ronnie Harrison (illness) also did not practice after being added to the injury report Thursday. OG Joel Bitonio (back), LB Jacob Phillips (knee), C JC Tretter (knee, elbow), DE Olivier Vernon (abdomen), CB Denzel Ward (groin) and Greedy Williams (shoulder) were limited. WR Odell Beckham Jr. (back) was limited after getting added to the injury report. Stephen Carlson (shoulder), OT Jack Conklin (elbow), WR Jarvis Landry (hip) and LB Sione Takitaki (shoulder) practiced in full.
Atlanta Falcons S Ricardo Allen (elbow), PK Younghoe Koo (groin), WR Calvin Ridley (ankle), DE Dante Fowler (ankle), S Keanu Neal (hamstring), DT Grady Jarrett (hip) and DE Takkarist McKinley (groin) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 1. WR Russell Gage Jr. (concussion), DE Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (elbow), LB Foyesade Oluokun (hamstring), WR Julio Jones (hamstring) and OT Kaleb McGary (knee) were limited. DT Marlon Davidson (knee), OT Matt Gono (shoulder) and S Kendall Sheffield (foot) practiced in full.
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis will take on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4. Carolina had no qualms about Davis as their lead back, considering he handled 21 touches in his first game as the starter. While it's foolish to count on McCaffrey-like production from Davis, he can certainly deliver strong fantasy numbers with this kind of volume. The Cardinals' defense ranks 20th in fantasy points allowed to halfbacks, so it's a matchup where the 27-year-old can do some damage. Davis may have slightly more value in PPR formats, as the Panthers may be playing catch-up against the Cardinals, lending him more work in the passing game. Still, he can be played as a high-end RB2/low-end RB1 in Week 4 across all formats.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (knee) remained absent from practice Thursday, Oct. 1.
New Orleans Saints CB Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) tweaked his hamstring in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30, although the injury is not considered major, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.
Buffalo Bills DT Ed Oliver (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 1. WR John Brown (calf), OT Dion Dawkins (shoulder), QB Jake Fromm (non-injury), S Micah Hyde (ankle), RB Zack Moss (toe) and LB Del'Shawn Phillips (quad) were limited. LB Tremaine Edmunds (shoulder), DT Quinton Jefferson (foot) and TE Dawson Knox (concussion) practiced in full.