Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes meet for the first time this season in Thursday night blockbuster | NFL News


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As the two of the NFL’s hottest, young quarterbacks prepare to clash on Thursday Night Football, here’s a look at their best plays from Week One

As the two of the NFL’s hottest, young quarterbacks prepare to clash on Thursday Night Football, here’s a look at their best plays from Week One

It’s Justin Herbert. It’s Patrick Mahomes. It is a Thursday Night Football matchup to behold, to eulogise over as the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs trade blows as Super Bowl contenders for the first time this season.

Mahomes looked every bit his angle-defying, unerringly-commanding self as he went 30 of 39 passing for 360 yards and five touchdowns in Kansas City’s 44-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week One. Elsewhere Justin Herbert mesmerized with his arm talent to lead the Chargers to a 24-19 victory against the Las Vegas Raiders in which he completed 26 of 34 pass attempts for 279 yards and three scores.

Former NFL offensive lineman Brian Baldinger hails Justin Herbert's 'jaw-dropping' talent after his impressive Week One showing for the Los Angeles Chargers

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Former NFL offensive lineman Brian Baldinger hails Justin Herbert’s ‘jaw-dropping’ talent after his impressive Week One showing for the Los Angeles Chargers

Former NFL offensive lineman Brian Baldinger hails Justin Herbert’s ‘jaw-dropping’ talent after his impressive Week One showing for the Los Angeles Chargers

Statement starts the new season for both sets the tone for an AFC West race brimming with superstars and holding as much intrigue as any division in football.

The Chiefs claimed the first meeting between the sides 30-24 in Week Three last season, before the Chargers hit back with a 34-28 overtime win in Week 15. On Thursday, two of the NFL’s poster boys face off once again.

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Highlights of the Kansas City Chiefs against the Arizona Cardinals from Week 1 of the NFL season

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Highlights of the Kansas City Chiefs against the Arizona Cardinals from Week 1 of the NFL season

Highlights of the Kansas City Chiefs against the Arizona Cardinals from Week 1 of the NFL season

“They are two of the special players in the league,” said Chargers head coach Brandon Staley. “They are as good as it gets. I think you are seeing, in the NFL, the quarterback position is in a great spot. It’s exciting for the league when you have this many good quarterbacks all at once, and a lot of them are really young.

“It makes it really tough to cover them, but the future is really bright. These two guys being in the same division, both being young players, it’s great for the game.

“Any time you have rivalries within a division, and then two quarterbacks like this, it’s really good for the game.”

While Mahomes and a remodeled receiving corps gelled seamlessly, the Chiefs defense limited quarterback Kyler Murray to just 193 passing yards for two touchdowns and 29 rushing yards from five carries as the Cardinals ranked 19th in EPA/play (a measurement of play-by-play efficiency).

In Herbert, they are expecting a different and no less simple task, although the Chargers could find themselves without top wide receiver Keenan Allen after he sustained a hamstring injury in the season opener.

Highlights of the Las Vegas Raiders against the Los Angeles Chargers from Week 1 of the NFL season

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Highlights of the Las Vegas Raiders against the Los Angeles Chargers from Week 1 of the NFL season

Highlights of the Las Vegas Raiders against the Los Angeles Chargers from Week 1 of the NFL season

“I have him – and have had him since he got in the league – as one of the top guys. He just gets better and better,” said Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

“And it’s a different quarterback challenge, right? It’s not the smaller, quick – now this guy can be elusive – but he’s got the whole package in my opinion. From the chin to the hairline, he’s really smart – that’s why they do a lot of things with him. He’s big and can throw over people.

“He rarely takes a hit because he gets rid of the ball. He gets them in and out of bad plays and into good plays. So what you’re doing on the backend as far as disguises is really important.

“And I think with the weapons he has – and I know there’s a possibility he might be down with one of his weapons – but I think he utilizes them all really well, he spreads them all over the field and that’s what makes it a challenge to defend these guys.”

A look back at some of the best plays from Week One of the NFL season, including some by Justin Jefferson, Saquon Barkley and Cooper Kupp

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A look back at some of the best plays from Week One of the NFL season, including some by Justin Jefferson, Saquon Barkley and Cooper Kupp

A look back at some of the best plays from Week One of the NFL season, including some by Justin Jefferson, Saquon Barkley and Cooper Kupp

Staley echoed Spagnuolo’s ‘full package’ sentiment in regards to the Chiefs’ man under center, Mahomes helping his offense top the rankings in EPA/play after Week One as he connected with trusted tight end Travis Kelce for 121 yards and a touchdown as well as finding free agency addition JuJu Smith-Schuster on six occasions for 79 yards.

Mahomes became one of just six players in NFL history to record at least six career games with five-or-more touchdown passes, reaching the feat in 64 games compared to the other five players that did so in at least 240-or-more games .

“He’s just a complete player at the position. He has outstanding football intelligence, smarts, command at the line of scrimmage,” added Staley.

“He can really hurt you post-snap. He has outstanding field vision, so he can really see the field. He’s accurate at all three levels of the field, both from inside and outside the pocket.

“I think people are aware of the creativity outside of the pocket and his ability to conduct a completely different play outside the framework of the first one, and I think that’s a real gift of his. I think he really sees the game like a point guard.

“This guy is a really hard guy to tackle because he is bigger than people think. He’s a winner. He has real toughness, they follow him. He’s as tough of a cover as there is in the NFL.”

It marks a new chapter of sorts for Andy Reid’s offense at Arrowhead following Tyreek Hill’s offseason departure in a trade that sent him to Mike McDaniel’s Miami Dolphins.

Despite the loss of a weapon that has accounted for 2,515 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons, Staley does not envision the Chiefs offense slowing down.

“As you guys saw in the first game, not a lot different because the formula is still there for them, and it starts with Patrick, and it starts with that offensive line, to me,” he explained.

“When they built that offensive line the way they did, I think that they gave their quarterback and even better chance to be the best version of himself.

“What they do is they have eight to 10 players that they can get the ball to now. I think that makes you even more difficult to defend because you have to be aware of everybody. Sometimes there’s a spotlight on an individual player, you can put a roof over that guy.

“I just think that they’re a complete offensive football team, and since Andy has been coaching, that’s how it’s always been.”

Watch the Chargers face the Chiefs at Arrowhead live on Sky Sports NFL from 1.15am in the early hours of Friday morning.





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