Dec 4, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Miami in LA eyeing early sunset for wobbled Chargers

While the Miami Dolphins are enjoying the week in Los Angeles, the Chargers are trying to avoid starting another year with plans that don’t include playoff football.

Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins (8-4) know how Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers (6-6) are feeling right about now heading into Sunday night’s game.

Miami was 6-7 entering Week 14 one year ago; Tagovailoa was being pounded by critics doubting his NFL readiness and durability and the Dolphins’ fanbase was eager for the arrival of his replacement.

That was one coaching change and a few landmark trades ago.

“He’s a baller. He’s a great player. He can do a lot of great things,” Tagovailoa said Wednesday of Herbert. “I feel very blessed, I’m just happy to be where I’m at. … For me, I’m just very fortunate and very blessed to be here.”

Herbert has been fighting to keep his nose above the waves as the Chargers bail water. Stringing together consecutive wins is the only way L.A. finds the postseason after missing out in heartbreaking fashion last season.

The fifth and sixth picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tagovailoa went one pick before Herbert and during their rookie season won the only pro matchup between the QBs.

Tagovailoa, the leader in Pro Bowl voting and passer rating (112.0) with a month left in the regular season, pilots Miami into Los Angeles just one game behind AFC East-leading Buffalo. The Dolphins have the fourth-ranked offense in the NFL (380.2 yards per game) and No. 2 passing offense (290.5 yards per game).

Tagovailoa is squarely on the MVP radar, overtaking Herbert, a player many thought could be in this position in 2022.

Big plays and dynamic playmakers are setting the Dolphins apart. Tagovailoa has six TD passes of 25-plus yards and averages 9.0 yards per attempt. In San Francisco last week, the Dolphins lost to snap a five-game winning streak. Tagovailoa suffered a minor ankle injury and threw his first interception (two, in fact) since Sept. 29. The ankle is fine, but the Dolphins are determined to prove the 49ers’ fortune won’t be a blueprint to slow head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense.

“Everything that went wrong wasn’t a direct result of the quarterback,” McDaniel said, noting the eight called running plays is Miami’s low-water mark for designed rush attempts.

There’s a great chance McDaniels’ call sheet will highlight the running game at Los Angeles, and not just because left tackle Terron Armstead (knee) has been out and worked out on the side in the team’s practice at UCLA on Wednesday.

The Chargers allowed 154 rushing yards last week, the sixth consecutive game opponents have topped 150.

Looking for his first home win since the 19-16 rock fight with the Denver Broncos on Oct. 17, Herbert might have a case if he points to the supporting cast as the differentiator between these teams.

What Herbert wouldn’t do for a player with Tyreek Hill’s production at that position right now. Hill has six games with 125-plus receiving yards in 12 games with the Dolphins, who landed the former Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro via trade. The Chargers know Hill well. He had 12 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers last December.

The Chargers don’t have a wide receiver ranked in the top 30 statistically through 13 weeks and running back Austin Ekeler leads L.A. in receptions (85) and TD catches (five). Wideouts Mike Williams and Keenan Allen have shared the field for less than 50 snaps and the IR cache for the Chargers is a veritable Pro Bowl stock, including top free agent cornerback J.C. Jackson, defensive end Joey Bosa and left tackle Rashawn Slater.

The Chargers could be without three offensive linemen on Sunday. Center Corey Linsley (concussion) and rookie guard Zion Johnson (shoulder) were listed as limited participants Wednesday. Right tackle Trey Pipkins (knee) did not practice and missed Week 13.

“The games do mean more as you go,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “Every week they’re going to mean more and more because you’re getting closer to the end and there’s a lot at stake in terms of positioning, but you got to pour yourself into that week, and that’s where our focus is, on Miami.”

Allen has rounded into form of late. He caught six passes for 88 yards and has touchdown receptions in consecutive games. Williams, listed as limited Wednesday with an ankle injury, didn’t play last week and has one reception for 15 yards in the team’s past five games.

That has meant more — and more — Ekeler, who has 104 targets as a receiver, ranks fourth in the NFL in receptions and leads the team with 589 rushing yards.

Herbert has continued the fight. He posted his 19th career 300-yard passing game last week — matching Andrew Luck for the record in the first three years of a career — but the production was again delivered in a painful loss (27-20 to the Raiders). Herbert’s 23 losses since his rookie season in 2020 are the most for any quarterback other than Matt Ryan (28).

Another defeat Sunday night could stack the deck against the Chargers with the Titans (7-5) up next in Week 15. Tennessee is one of seven AFC teams to already record seven wins in 2022.

“We need to win the rest of these games,” Chargers wide receiver Josh Palmer said. “For us, the playoffs really started last week.”

Miami has another primetime road game looming with massive postseason implications next Saturday night against the Bills.

“The bottom line is we have two opportunities to play in front of a national audience,” McDaniel said. “It’s something we’ve been building towards for the whole season in terms of how we play, but only one of which we can really do anything about in the immediate future.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders tight end Foster Moreau (87) makes a catch ahead of Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill (49) during the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr, Davante Adams lead Raiders past Chargers

Derek Carr and Davante Adams connected on two long scoring passes in the third quarter to help the Las Vegas Raiders rally for a 27-20 win against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon.

Adams caught eight passes for 177 yards and the two third-quarter touchdowns. Carr completed 16 of 30 passes for 250 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert completed 28 of 47 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown.

Herbert found Keenan Allen on fourth-and-12 for a 35-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 27-20 with 8:34 left in the game.

The Chargers got the ball back at their 9-yard line with 5:12 remaining but were stopped on downs at the Las Vegas 42 with 2:42 left, and the Raiders held on for their third straight win.

The Chargers (6-6) took a 13-10 lead into the break, but fumbled on the opening drive of the second half.

The Raiders (5-7) quickly capitalized when Carr hit Adams on a 31-yard touchdown strike to move Las Vegas ahead 17-13.

After a missed field goal by the Chargers, Carr and Adams hooked up again on a flea flicker that went for a 45-yard touchdown, giving Las Vegas a 24-13 lead with 10:53 left in the third.

Daniel Carlson tacked on a 25-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 27-13 with 14:49 left in the game.

Chargers cornerback Bryce Callahan intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown to give the Chargers a 7-0 lead with 5:07 left in the opening quarter.

The Chargers extended the lead to 10-0 on a 37-yard field goal by Cameron Dicker with 11:37 left in the second quarter.

Josh Jacobs, who rushed for a franchise-record 229 yards on 33 carries in a 40-34 overtime win against the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday, scored on a 20-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 10-7 with 7:52 left in the first half.

Jacobs finished with 144 rushing yards on 26 carries and the touchdown.

Carlson booted a 55-yard field goal to tie the score 10-10 with 2:17 left in the opening half.

Dicker kicked a 37-yarder to move Los Angeles back ahead 13-10 with 27 seconds left in the half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA;  Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) injured his ankle after he is brought down by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Mike Jackson (30) after a complete pass in the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers WR Mike Williams (ankle) ruled out vs. Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers wideout Mike Williams will miss Sunday’s game against the host Las Vegas Raiders due to his right ankle injury.

It will mark the second straight game and fourth in five that Williams will be sidelined.

He initially was injured in Week 7 against the Seattle Seahawks. The team had a bye the next week and Williams missed two games before attempting to play against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11.

But Williams reinjured the ankle against the Chiefs and then missed last weekend’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Williams didn’t practice at all this week.

The 28-year-old had 38 receptions for 510 yards and three touchdowns in eight games this season.

A first-round draft pick (seventh overall) by the Chargers in 2017, Williams has 265 catches for 4,172 yards and 29 touchdowns in 80 career games (54 starts).

The Chargers also ruled out center Corey Linsley (concussion) and tackle Trey Pipkins III (knee). Listed as questionable are safety Nasir Adderley (thumb), defensive lineman Breidan Fehoko (illness) and linebacker Drue Tranquill (illness).

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (28) breaks a tackle attempt by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Cody Barton (57) after making a reception during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Jacobs, Raiders hope to run past Chargers

Josh Jacobs deserved to be off his feet this week.

Coming off a record-breaking performance and workload that likely aggravated his calf strain, Jacobs is expected to be back in uniform for the Las Vegas Raiders when they host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

Jacobs rushed for a franchise-record 229 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries in a 40-34 overtime win against the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday, scoring the game-winning TD on an 86-yard run.

Jacobs also caught seven passes for 74 yards, giving him 303 yards from scrimmage, another franchise record and the seventh-highest total in the Super Bowl era.

The league leader in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage wasn’t expected to practice much in the days leading up to the rematch with the Chargers.

Jacobs rushed for 57 yards on just 10 carries in Las Vegas’ 24-19 loss to the Chargers in the season opener. The Raiders fell behind 17-3 at the half before abandoning the run in the second half.

The Raiders started the season with three straight losses, thought they were back on track after winning two of three, but then lost three in a row again.

Las Vegas (4-7) has bounced back with two straight wins in overtime, both on the road, keeping its playoff hopes alive.

“This doesn’t guarantee us anything going forward,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said. “We’re going to stick with our process, we think we have a really close-knit group here that works hard, we believe in what we’re doing, we believe in what we’re coaching, we believe in trying to win the way we’re trying to win, and I think our guys do, too.”

The Chargers (6-5) are also trying to build off an emotional win.

Los Angeles elected to try for a two-point conversion, rather than a game-tying point-after, with 15 seconds left against the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday, and the gamble succeeded. Justin Herbert’s pass to Gerald Everett gave the Chargers a 25-24 road win that prevented them from losing three in a row.

“We’re just living week to week,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “It was about this game for us and pouring (everything) into this game and doing what we felt like was going to win us the football game.”

Herbert is coming off one of his better performances this season, as he completed 35 of 47 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

The only other time this season that Herbert threw at least three touchdown passes without an interception was in the season-opening win against the Raiders.

Keenan Allen is also back in rhythm with Herbert after the veteran wide receiver missed a month due to a hamstring injury, and running back Austin Ekeler continues to be a multi-pronged threat for Los Angeles, much as Jacobs has been for the Raiders.

Ekeler said all that matters is adding to the victory total.

“At this point, all games for us are like a must-win,” Ekeler said. “You see the rest of the AFC winning games … we got to catch up a few.”

The Chargers could be thin on the offensive line, however.

Los Angeles center Corey Linsley was still in concussion protocol on Wednesday. Right tackle Trey Pipkins III aggravated a left knee injury against Arizona, and the Chargers plan to be cautious with his return to practice, Staley said.

Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (ankle) also didn’t practice on Wednesday and is in jeopardy of missing a second straight game.

Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs, out since mid-October due to a hand injury, hopes to return to action on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) drops back to ass against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Nov. 27, 2022.

NFL moves Week 14 Dolphins-Chargers game to SNF

NFL Most Valuable Player candidate Tua Tagovailoa and the rising Miami Dolphins will get an extra prime-time showcase, as their Week 14 road game against the Los Angeles Chargers was moved to the “Sunday Night Football” slot.

The move was announced Tuesday as part of the NFL’s flex scheduling plan. The league reserves the right to replace the Sunday night games late in the season in favor of a better matchup.

In this case, the Dec. 11 Dolphins-Chargers game will get the 8:20 p.m. ET position on NBC, trading places with that day’s Kansas City Chiefs-at-Denver Broncos contest, which will now air on CBS at 4:05 p.m. ET.

The Dolphins (8-3) have an 8-0 record in games that Tagovailoa has started and finished. Tagovailoa was carted off from the field during Miami’s 27-15 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 29, and the Dolphins dropped the next two games without him.

Tagovailoa has thrown for 2,564 yards and 19 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He is the third favorite for MVP at DraftKings with +500 odds, trailing just Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (-160) and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (+350).

FanDuel has Mahomes at -140, Hurts at +350 and Tagovailoa at +600.

The Chargers (6-5) are just one win out of a playoff position after pulling out a 25-24 win over the Arizona Cardinals in the last minute on Sunday.

The Chiefs (9-2) own the best record in the AFC, but their matchup against the Broncos became less appealing with Denver sitting at 3-8 and riding a three-game losing streak.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2022; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a pass against the Arizona Cardinals in the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers beat Cardinals on late TD, two-point conversion

Justin Herbert hit Austin Ekeler on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds remaining, then found Gerald Everett on a two-point conversion pass as the Los Angeles Chargers bypassed overtime and pulled off a 25-24 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

The Chargers (6-5) punted on their first three fourth-quarter possessions but finished off a seven-play, 38-yard drive in the final two minutes following a 20-yard punt return from DeAndre Carter.

Herbert was 35-of-47 passing for 274 yards and three touchdowns for the Chargers, who ended a two-game losing streak. Carter had a career-best seven catches for 73 yards and a score on a day that the Los Angeles rushing attack was held to 65 yards, including just 27 from the team’s running backs.

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray played well in his return after missing two games with a hamstring injury, going 18 of 29 with 191 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Murray also had a rushing TD, while James Conner had 120 yards rushing.

Murray hit Conner on a 6-yard TD pass with 13:31 remaining to give the Cardinals a 24-17 lead. But Arizona (4-8) managed just 16 yards combined on its next three possessions, punting each time.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 10-0 lead less than a minute into the second quarter, getting a 33-yard touchdown from Murray to DeAndre Hopkins late in the first quarter followed by a 43-yard field goal from Matt Prater. Hopkins had four catches for 87 yards, while Marquise Brown had six catches for 46 yards.

After punts on their first three possessions, the Chargers found the end zone with 8:51 before halftime when Allen caught a 2-yard pass from Herbert as Los Angeles pulled within 10-7.

The Chargers took a 14-10 lead with 4:28 left in the half when Herbert found Carter on a 33-yard scoring pass. But the Cardinals moved back in front 17-14 with 12 seconds remaining in the half when Murray scored on a 5-yard run.

The Chargers got even at 17-17 on Cameron Dicker’s 26-yard field goal with 4:28 remaining in the third quarter.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler had 20 yards rushing on five carries and added 11 receptions for 60 yards.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) in action against the Minnesota Vikings during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers, Cardinals hope for better days ahead

Not quite the team they thought they would be by the time late November rolled around, the Los Angeles Chargers finally can see a favorable schedule ahead, and it might not be too late.

A promising run of games will begin Sunday on the road against the Arizona Cardinals, who are hopeful to have quarterback Kyler Murray back on the field, although they were not exactly playing well before his hamstring injury.

The Chargers no longer have health concerns regarding their quarterback after Justin Herbert worked his way through fractured rib cartilage earlier in the season. Also promising was the return last week of wide receiver Keenan Allen, who has missed seven games this year due to a hamstring ailment.

Impacted by a number of early injuries to key players, the Chargers continue to wait on the return of defensive end Joey Bosa from a groin injury.

Upcoming games against the Cardinals and Las Vegas Raiders could give the Chargers the opportunity to get healthy in the standings. After those road contests, the Chargers play host to a pair of first-place teams, the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans.

The Chargers close out the season against the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos. The Dolphins and Titans are the only teams remaining on the Chargers’ schedule with more than four wins.

With Allen’s return, Herbert guided the Chargers to a late lead last Sunday only to see the Kansas City Chiefs score the winning touchdown with 31 seconds remaining and take a 30-27 decision. That came one week after Los Angeles fell 22-16 to the host San Francisco 49ers.

“Our focus is going to be on Arizona,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “We played two really tough games in a row in primetime against two really quality teams, and they’ve been great games. I feel like our level (of play) has been high. I think we know exactly where we stand right now, in terms of the context of the NFL landscape.”

Herbert threw for 280 yards with two TDs and an interception against the Chiefs. Allen had five catches for 94 yards while Joshua Palmer made eight receptions for 106 yards and two scores. Austin Ekeler had 83 yards rushing to provide a boost for an anemic ground game that ranks third from the bottom in the NFL at 87.9 yards per contest.

“He’s doing everything that he can to be out there,” Herbert said about Allen. “He’s a competitor.”

Now comes a date with the Cardinals, whose defense rates among the bottom third of NFL teams at 245.4 yards passing allowed per game. On offense, Arizona is middle of the pack with 223 yards in the air per game.

The Cardinals had 247 yards passing in a 38-10 loss to the 49ers on Monday night at Mexico City, but Colt McCoy and Trace McSorley combined to throw two interceptions while taking three sacks.

Murray, who led the Cardinals to a 3-6 mark before his injury, was on track to start this week, according to coach Kliff Kingsbury. He was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice.

“He looked good (Wednesday), so I’m feeling good about the chances,” Kingsbury said. “I think if we didn’t let him, we’d have a fistfight in my office at this point, so I feel like he’s definitely trending in the right direction.”

While Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz (knee) is expected to miss the remainder of the season, wide receivers Greg Dortch (thumb) and Rondale Moore (groin) were out of practice on Wednesday.

After making one catch last week, Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. Cornerback Bryce Callahan (groin) also missed practice.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers place kicker Dustin Hopkins (6) kicks the game winning field goal against the Denver Broncos during overtime at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers place K Dustin Hopkins (hamstring) on IR

The Los Angeles Chargers moved kicker Dustin Hopkins to injured reserve on Tuesday and signed kicker Cameron Dicker to the active roster.

Dicker, 22, kicked game-winning field goals in the first two games of his NFL career.

Dicker kicked the game-winning 37-yard field goal in a 20-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in his team debut in Week 9. He was signed to the practice squad three days before the game when kicker Taylor Bertolet went on injured reserve with a quadriceps injury, then promoted to the active roster.

Hopkins strained his right hamstring in a Week 6 contest against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 17. Playing through visible pain, Hopkins went 4 for 4 on field goals, including the game-winner in overtime to give Los Angeles a 19-16 victory.

Hopkins hasn’t played since. Coach Brandon Staley originally said the timetable would be two to four weeks.

Dicker will likely be the Chargers’ placekicker for at least the next four games, the span Hopkins must miss before he becomes eligible to be activated off IR.

Dicker, an undrafted rookie out of Texas, appeared in one game for the Philadelphia Eagles before the Chargers picked him up while Hopkins was hurt. He kicked the game-winning 23-yard field goal against the Arizona Cardinals in his NFL debut for the Eagles in Week 5.

A practice squad promotion in each of the last three weeks, Dicker has been perfect for the Chargers, making all six extra points and all seven field goals he’s attempted, with a long of 47 yards.

Hopkins has kicked in 109 NFL games with Washington (2015-21) and the Chargers (2021-22). He has made 190 of 224 field-goal attempts, a success rate of 84.8 percent.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Ronald Jones (2) dives to make a tackle on Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer (5) during the second quarter at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce combine for 3 TDs as Chiefs rally past Chargers

Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce connected for three touchdowns as the Kansas City Chiefs won their fourth straight game, beating the host Los Angeles Chargers 30-27 on Sunday night.

Mahomes completed 20 of 34 passes for 329 yards, and he also rushed four times for 23 yards for the Chiefs (8-2). Kelce hauled in a total of six catches for 115 yards and all three of Mahomes’ touchdown passes.

Isiah Pacheco led the Chiefs’ rushing attack with a season-best 107 yards on 15 carries.

Justin Herbert led the Chargers (5-5) by completing 23 of 30 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns. Both of Herbert’s touchdown passes were caught by Joshua Palmer, who finished with eight catches for 106 yards.

The game featured six lead changes. Kansas City pieced together its game-winning drive with under two minutes to play, as 1:46 remained on the clock after Herbert found Palmer for a 6-yard score. The Chiefs then covered 75 yards with a six-play drive that lasted just 75 seconds. Kelce hauled in a 17-yard catch for the game-winning touchdown.

Los Angeles got the chance to respond with 31 seconds to play, but Herbert was picked off by Kansas City linebacker Nick Bolton on the second play of the drive.

The Chiefs opened the scoring in the game with the first of Harrison Butker’s three field goals. The Chargers responded in just three plays as Herbert beat Kansas City’s defense over the top with a 50-yard bomb to Palmer for a touchdown.

Kansas City retook the lead early in the second quarter when Mahomes found Kelce for a 4-yard touchdown pass inside the red zone. Then, a rushing touchdown by Austin Ekeler and Cameron Dicker’s second field goal of the day gave Los Angeles a 20-13 lead heading into halftime.

After a Butker field goal in the third quarter, Kansas City retook the lead early in the fourth quarter on another connection between Mahomes and Kelce — this time for a 32-yard score.

The win keeps Mahomes’ perfect record in road divisional games intact. He is now 14-0.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney (19) celebrates with quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) after a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs go for division KO punch at second-place Chargers

The Kansas City Chiefs are in the driver’s seat to win the AFC West. Their chance to buckle the second-place Los Angeles Chargers into the second row comes in primetime on Sunday night in Inglewood, Calif.

After losing to the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 16, the Chiefs (7-2) have won three straight games. Most recently, Kansas City topped the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars this past weekend behind a signature performance from Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs quarterback completed 26 of 35 passes for 331 yards and four touchdowns, and he also rushed seven times for 39 yards.

The performance pushed Mahomes into the top 100 among NFL quarterbacks for career passing yards, reaching the milestone in just 72 career games.

But the buzz in Kansas City was all about Mahomes’ new offensive weapon, wideout Kadarius Toney. The Chiefs acquired the second-year player in a trade last month, sending a third- and sixth-round pick to the New York Giants. In just two games with the Chiefs, Toney has 102 yards from scrimmage on eight touches.

He scored on Kansas City’s second possession of the game, via a 6-yard strike from Mahomes.

“He’s a smart kid and he picks it up easy. Always willing to spend time at it, too,” head coach Andy Reid said of Toney. “We’re trying to give him some things that he’s done before, and then adding one or two things the last couple of weeks that he’s not used to doing so that he can continue to grow. (Mahomes) has trust in him because of the feel that he has.”

Toney could be called upon to step up for the Chiefs this week if JuJu Smith-Schuster is unable to play. The wide receiver was knocked out of the Jaguars game in the second quarter after being hit by Jacksonville safety Andre Cisco. Reid confirmed after the game that Smith-Schuster suffered a concussion.

Smith-Schuster did not practice Wednesday, and neither did fellow wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling, due to an illness. Corner Chris Lammons (concussion) and wideout Mecole Hardman (abdomen) also missed practice, while running back Jerick McKinnon (shoulder, hamstring) was limited.

The Chargers (5-4) are coming off a loss to the San Francisco 49ers and could use a win to boost their hopes of making the playoffs after missing out on the postseason with a Week 18 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders last season.

It was a quiet game for Chargers’ star running back Austin Ekeler, who finished with just 24 rushing yards on six carries. He also had seven catches for 39 yards.

Still, on the season, the Chargers are 0-3 when Ekeler has less than 10 rushing attempts.

“We need more playmaking,” Ekeler said. “We didn’t have that in the second half. We can’t just go out there and play hard. That doesn’t win in the NFL.”

Playmaking has been hindered with the absence of quarterback Justin Herbert’s top wide receivers. Keenan Allen (hamstring) hasn’t played since Week 1 and Mike Williams missed last week’s game. He has 37 catches, tied for tops among Chargers wide receivers, but 30 fewer than Ekeler’s team-leading 67.

It’s not just one position group that’s hurting.

The Chargers have battled injuries all season and finished the game against the 49ers with just three healthy defensive linemen. Los Angeles has 11 players on injured reserve. Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said the team will “probably make some acquisitions” this week.

“I think we’re trying to mine the entire NFL and try to find the best fits,” Staley said.

Three Chargers missed practice on Wednesday: kicker Dustin Hopkins (hamstring), punter JK Scott (illness) and linebacker Khalil Mack (rest), who leads the team in sacks with seven. Wide receivers Mike Williams (ankle) and Kenan Allen (hamstring) were limited Wednesday, but both are expected to play Sunday. Tight end Gerald Everett was also limited with a groin injury.

–Field Level Media