Chiefs’ Division Rival Signs KC Playoff Killer: Report

Getty Los Angeles Rams running back Sony Michel.

Despite the Los Angeles Chargers having running back Austin Ekeler, who had 1,558 all-purpose yards and 20 total touchdowns during the 2021 season, the Kansas City Chiefs‘ AFC West rivals recently added another piece to their backfield that has a history with Kansas City.

The Chargers signed veteran free agent running back Sony Michel, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport on August 31.

Michel entered the NFL as a first-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 2018. He was introduced to Chiefs Kingdom in Week 6 of the 2018 season on Sunday Night Football when the Patriots beat the Chiefs at home 43-40. In that game, Michel had 24 carries for 106 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns.

The next time Kansas City would come across Michel and New England would be in the AFC Championship game that season in which the Patriots beat the Chiefs 37-31 in overtime at Arrowhead. Michel had 29 carries for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns in that game.

Overall, Michel has not lived up to the first-round pick used to draft him outside of his performances against Kansas City. That’s why the Patriots cut ties with him a year before his rookie contract expired, and now he’s on his third team since 2021.

However, Michel being added to Los Angeles’ backfield is a way for the Chargers to take advantage of one of the Chiefs defense’s biggest weaknesses last season.

Chargers’ Run Game Could Beat Chiefs

Kansas City’s defense gave up 4.8 yards per carry during the 2021 season, which ranked 31st in the NFL, according to StatMuse. Teams that want to keep Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense off the field utilize their run game to milk the clock, move the chains, and give Kansas City as little time as possible to score points.

Last season, the Chargers lost both of their games against the Chiefs during the regular season. In the first matchup — a 30-24 win for the Chiefs — Los Angeles’ leading rusher was Ekeler, who had just 11 carries for 55 yards. In the second matchup — a 34-28 overtime win for Kansas City — Justin Jackson led the Chargers’ backfield with 13 carries for 86 yards.

Moving forward, if Los Angeles can pick its spots in the passing game while also leaning on its run game, there’s a chance the Chargers could beat the Chiefs on more than one occasion during the 2022 season and potentially de-throne Kansas City as the AFC West champions. That’s why the addition of Michel could foreshadow a specific gameplan for the Chargers when they meet the Chiefs for the first time this season on Thursday Night Football in Week 2.

Chargers HC Gushes Over Sony Michel

Chargers head coach Brandon Staley spoke very highly of Michel when asked about him during his press conference on September 1.

“We see a complete runner,” Staley said of Michel. “I’ve known about him since eighth grade [when I scouted south Florida], playing varsity football at American Heritage down in Plantation, Broward Country, Florida. I’ve known about him since he was a 14-year-old kid. But just really respect the resume.

“He’s a complete runner, even going all the way back to Georgia — him and Nick Chubb teaming up. We faced him when he was with New England… just a very complete back, and we’re excited to have him.”

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