For Pete's Sake

Five things to know about the Chiefs’ next opponent: the LA Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo walked off the field after missing a field goal attempt against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Carson, Calif.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo walked off the field after missing a field goal attempt against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Carson, Calif. The Associated Press

The AFC West certainly looks like the best division in football.

The Chiefs, Broncos and Raiders are all 2-0. However, the other team in the West hasn’t fared well. The Chargers have slumped out of the gate, losing their first two games.

On Sunday, the Chiefs will head to Carson, Calif., to play the Chargers. For perhaps the first time in franchise history, the Chiefs will play a game in a soccer stadium in the United States (they did play in London in 2015).

During the season, I’ll provide a quick overview of the next Chiefs’ opponent early in each week, and here are a few things to know about the Los Angeles Chargers.

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid and his team will face their first division opponent this Sunday in Los Angeles against the Chargers. He spoke about the preparation for AFC West opponents. The Raiders and Broncos are 2-0 and the Chargers, thoug

1. Close losses

While the Chargers are 0-2, the losses have been by a combined five points. ESPN noted that since the start of the 2016 season, the Chargers have lost seven times despite leading in the fourth quarter.

ESPN also said the Chargers have nine losses by seven points or less in that time frame, the most in the NFL.

2. Kicking woes

Rookie kicker Younghoe Koo has had a disastrous start to the season. In the Chargers’ 24-21 loss at Denver in the opener, Koo lined up for a 44-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. It was blocked.

That wasn’t necessarily Koo’s fault. But on Sunday, Koo missed a 44-yard attempt late in the game and Chargers lost 19-17 to Miami. Koo also missed a 43-yard kick earlier in the game.

His struggles even caught the attention of former KU star Joel Embiid.

Koo attended Georgia Southern, and this practice video was widely shared late last year:

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn told reporters that he might bring in competition for Koo this week.

3. Keenan Allen vs. Marcus Peters

Chargers receiver Keenan Allen is off to a good start, and he leads the team in catches (14) and yards (135). Allen was injured during last year’s season-opener against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, and he missed the rest of the season. That didn’t stop him from tweeting about his disdain for Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters last December ahead of the team’s game in San Diego.

Following the 2016 season opener, Peters told The Star’s Blair Kerkhoff that the Chiefs might have lost had Allen not been injured. It will be interesting to see this match-up on Sunday.

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters talks about Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen's injury.

4. Gates’ record

Antonio Gates caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers in the third quarter of Sunday’s game. It was Gates’ 112th career score, and he broke a tie with former Chief Tony Gonzalez for all-time touchdowns by a tight end.

Gates has only four catches for 28 yards in the Chargers’ first two games. Fellow tight end Hunter Henry caught seven passes for 80 yards on Sunday.

5. Rushing troubles

The Chargers have rushed for just 108 yards this season in 36 attempts (3.0 yards per carry). Rivers remains the Chargers’ main threat on offense, but LA’s top rushing option — Melvin Gordon — has had an awful couple of games. He’s run for just 67 yards in 27 attempts, an average of 2.5 yards per carry.

By comparison, Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt had a 58-yard rush against the Patriots and a 53-yard scoring run against the Eagles.

Gordon, however, is the Chargers’ second-leading receiver with 12 catches for 90 yards.

Terez Paylor, the Kansas City Chiefs beat writer for The Star, gives his insights on the 16-game schedule, which was released by the NFL on Thursday, April 20.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff