The Los Angeles Chargers have been hyped up as serious Super Bowl contenders for the last few months, but as always, the proof is in the pudding.
They have often been picked over the years to win the AFC West and possibly contend for the world championship, but almost every year, they fall short of expectations.
This is a franchise that has often possessed ample talent over the past 18 years, but during that span, it has won its division only five times, with all five division titles coming between 2004 and 2009.
In addition, since 2004, the Chargers have reached the AFC Championship Game only once, so it is somewhat understandable that some haven’t bought into their hype yet.
But the Bolts have a prime opportunity to prove they’re all that on Thursday.
They will face the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that is seen as the safe pick to finish first in the division, at Arrowhead Stadium, and this contest could be a doozy.
If the Chargers end up winning it, it will be that proverbial statement win that coaches always talk about making, and it will be a clear message to the rest of the football world that they’re a force to be reckoned with.
The Chiefs Are The Reigning Kings Of The AFC West
Kansas City has finished first in the AFC West in each of the last six seasons, a streak that predates the Patrick Mahomes era.
Even without star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, it is looking very strong as usual this season, and as talented as the Chargers are, there is a feeling they will have to topple the Chiefs to prove they’re now the best in the division.
It is a reasonable viewpoint, and thus, the opportunity is there for Los Angeles to start to do just that on Thursday.
Last season, the Chargers played the Chiefs in Kansas City in Week 15, and at the time, L.A. still had a shot at getting first place in the AFC West.
Instead of making a statement, the Chargers suffered a heartbreaking defeat in overtime.
In case you forgot what happened the last time the Chiefs and Chargers got together on a Thursday night…pic.twitter.com/BVSH5uZfLK
— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) September 14, 2022
Luckily, their defense is looking much stronger this year.
Their biggest addition there, pass rusher Khalil Mack, was a monster in the Bolts’ Sunday win over the Las Vegas Raiders, as he posted three sacks, six tackles (five solo) and three tackles for loss.
The tag-team combo of Mack and Joey Bosa will need to bring the heat on Mahomes and not allow him to get into any type of passing rhythm.
Reasons For Concern
The Chargers will likely be shorthanded on Thursday when they take on Kansas City.
Keenan Allen, their WR1, has been ruled out because of an injury he sustained on Sunday versus the Raiders.
In addition, cornerback J.C. Jackson, L.A.’s other big defensive addition this year, may not play after undergoing ankle surgery about three weeks ago.
CB JC Jackson is questionable.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 14, 2022
If one or both of them are unable to play and the Chargers still beat the Chiefs, the message sent will be even more strident.