Burning questions for Chiefs vs. Chargers on ‘Monday Night Football’

By Jesse Reed
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The final game of Week 11 features the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football from Mexico City.

Incredibly, there are just two games between these two rivals in the AFC West standings. The Chiefs are atop the division at 6-4, and despite some brutal losses this year the 4-6 Chargers can still salvage the season with a win Monday night.

These are the big questions we have for this pivotal Monday Night Football showdown.

Can the Chiefs protect Patrick Mahomes?

The Chargers have one of the best pass-rushing duos in the NFL. Since Melvin Ingram has come back into the starting lineup, he and Joey Bosa have been darn-near unstoppable — just ask Aaron Rodgers about that.

Mahomes is still dealing with the lingering effects of his knee injury suffered earlier this year, and he is still just a few weeks removed from the dislocated knee that cost him two games. If the Chargers can bring the heat on a regular basis and get to Mahomes, this game could get very interesting.

Will Melvin Gordon have another huge game?

It took a few games to get him going after Gordon returned to the Chargers following his holdout. But clearly, the fifth-year running back is hitting his stride midway through this season.

The past two games, Gordon has tallied 242 yards and three touchdowns from scrimmage. Even better, the Charters have begun utilizing two-back sets with him and Austin Ekeler, which gives opposing defenses fits.

The Chiefs have the second-worst run defense in the NFL, allowing 148 rushing yards per game, along with 12 touchdowns. If the Chargers get Gordon going, they can control the clock, and potentially the outcome of this game.

Will the Chiefs corral Keenan Allen?

One of the best receivers in the game today, Keenan Allen is also Philip Rivers’ favorite weapon in the passing game. Coming into Monday Night Football this week, he has 62 receptions for 725 yards and three touchdowns.

Kansas City’s pass defense has been better than expected so far this year, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue that it has a single cornerback capable of taking on Allen mano-y-mano. With that in mind, it’s going to be interesting to see if defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo doubles Allen with a safety over the top.

Can Philip Rivers take care of the ball?

Old man Rivers leads the NFL in passing yards (2,816), but unfortunately he’s also third-worst in the league with 10 interceptions this season. Rivers has piled up the majority of those picks in three games (seven interceptions), all of which the Chargers could have won but lost thanks in large part to the turnovers.

Coming off a three-interception game against the Oakland Raiders, Rivers has to rebound in a big way or his team will get blown out by the Chiefs. Though Kansas City only has six interceptions on the season, Rivers has a penchant for throwing it right to the other team.

Will the field at Estadio Azteca hold up?

This is a big concern after the NFL was forced to move last year’s game in Mexico City due to unsafe conditions on the hybrid turf at Estadio Azteca.

Since then, the field has undergone a transformation. The hybrid turf is gone, and in its place is a natural-grass field that the officials at the stadium have assured the NFL will hold up to the rigors of an NFL game.

“The field is in very good condition,” said Arturo Olivé, director of the NFL’s office in Mexico, per the Associated Press. “It looks spectacular, and we are very happy with the great work that has been carried out.”

Hopefully the turf is a non-story. Because of last year’s debacle, it will be a big topic of discussion if there are problems on Monday Night Football.