THURSDAY NIGHT PREVIEW:
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (9-4) AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (8-5)
Week 15 of the 2021 NFL season gets underway on Thursday, December 16 (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFL Network/Amazon) as the Kansas City Chiefs (9-4) visit the Los Angeles Chargers (8-5) in a key late-season matchup with first place in the AFC West on the line. Kansas City enters the week as the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff picture, while Los Angeles currently holds the top Wild Card spot. The Chiefs lead the all-time regular-season series, 64-57-1, but the Chargers have won each of the past two games. In Week 3 of this season, Los Angeles quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT had four touchdown passes, including the game-winner to wide receiver MIKE WILLIAMS with 32 seconds remaining, as the Chargers defeated the Chiefs, 30-24.
The Chiefs enter Thursday as winners of each of their past six games, the second-longest active win streak in the league. They have a chance to secure their seventh-consecutive season with at least 10 wins and become the fifth team in NFL history with seven straight 10-win seasons. In last week’s 48-9 victory over Las Vegas, quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES completed 20 of 24 pass attempts (season-high 83.3 percent) for 258 yards and two touchdowns with a season-high 139.2 rating. It marked his 10th career game with a passer rating of 130-or-higher (minimum 20 attempts), the most such games by a quarterback in his first five seasons all-time. In three career starts on Thursday Night Football, Mahomes has passed for six touchdowns against no interceptions with a 119.5 rating. He enters Week 15 ranking fourth in the league with 3,642 passing yards and can join Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING as the only players in NFL history with at least 4,000 passing yards in four of their first five seasons.
Running back CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE rushed for a season-high two touchdowns last week and has a rushing touchdown in two of his past three games. In the teams’ Week 3 meeting, Edwards-Helaire had 100 rushing yards and a touchdown reception. Fellow running backs DERRICK GORE and DARREL WILLIAMS also each scored a touchdown in Week 14. Tight end TRAVIS KELCE has a touchdown catch in each of the past two road meetings against Los Angeles. He enters Thursday ranking second among tight ends with 73 receptions and 875 receiving yards and is the first tight end in league history with at least 850 receiving yards in eight consecutive seasons. Wide receiver TYREEK HILL aims for his third in a row against the Chargers with at least five catches and 50 receiving yards and has six receiving touchdowns in his past four road games. He ranks tied-third in the league with 90 catches and sixth with 1,030 receiving yards, his fourth-career 1,000-yard season.
The Kansas City defense, which allowed seven points in Week 9 and nine points in Weeks 11, 13 and 14, is the first team since the 2014 Seattle Seahawks to allow fewer than 10 points four times in a five-game span. Safety TYRANN MATHIEU recorded his team-high third interception of the season last week and added a fumble recovery. In four career games against the Chargers, he has four passes defensed and two interceptions. Cornerback MIKE HUGHES led the team with nine tackles and added two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in Week 14, becoming the first player in the league this season with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in a single game. Defensive tackle CHRIS JONES leads the team with seven sacks and is one of five players in the NFL with at least seven sacks in each of the past four seasons.
The Chargers have won each of their past two games, including a 37-21 victory last week over the New York Giants at SoFi Stadium. In the win, Herbert passed for three touchdowns with no interceptions and a season-high 133.1 rating. He aims for his fifth in a row with at least 275 passing yards and two touchdown passes. In three career starts against the Chiefs, he has 10 touchdowns (eight passing, two rushing) against one interception for a 117.9 rating. Herbert ranks tied for second in the league with 30 touchdown passes and is the first player ever with at least 30 touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons.
Running back AUSTIN EKELER has scored a touchdown in each of the past five games, tied for the third-longest active streak in the league. He totaled 107 scrimmage yards (55 rushing, 52 receiving) in the Week 3 meeting in Kansas City and added a touchdown reception. Ekeler ranks second in the league with a career-high 16 touchdowns (nine rushing, seven receiving). Wide receiver KEENAN ALLEN has at least five catches in 11 of his 12 games this season and had a touchdown reception in the Week 3 meeting. He enters Week 15 with 929 receiving yards and is the only player in the NFL with at least 900 receiving yards in each of the past five seasons. Wide receiver MIKE WILLIAMS aims for his third in a row against the Chiefs with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown catch.
Linebacker JOEY BOSA had a sack and his career-high fifth forced fumble of the season last week. He has a sack in five of his past six games and a forced fumble in two of his past three. Bosa leads the team with 8.5 sacks and seeks his fourth-career 10-sack season. Safety DERWIN JAMES ranks second among defensive backs with 99 tackles this season and has a career-high three forced fumbles.
FOX will broadcast 10 Thursday Night Football games between Weeks 5-15 (excluding Thanksgiving night). Thursday’s game is slated to be simulcast via NFL Network, distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes and streamed on Amazon Prime Video.
The game will feature Joe Buck, Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink on the call for FOX. The Amazon broadcast features Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm, and the Amazon Scout’s feed is called by Bucky Brooks, Daniel Jeremiah and Joy Taylor.
For the Week 15 Kansas City-Los Angeles Chargers capsule, click here.