Thursday, December 16th
KC FT at Los Angeles Bolts
Omicron has entered the chat.
It's a shame that such an important game, between division rivals no less, is taking place on a Thursday Night, with most of the players playing on short rest, and after already playing thirteen gruelling games in fourteen weeks. Add in another COVID outbreak (the league recorded over 100 positive tests over a three-day period), and you're looking at a game that is severely compromised from a quality and talent standpoint.
Key players from both teams will not be available for tonight's game due to COVID, while others will be limited by injuries. The Bolts will be without starting LT Rashawn Slater, while their most important defensive player, S Derwin James, is hampered by a hamstring injury. RB Austin Ekeler (ankle) and CB Asante Samuel, Jr. (concussion), are also nicked-up. On the other side, a KC defense which has keyed the club's current six-game win streak will be without three starters; DL Chris Jones and LB Willie Gay, both due to COVID, and CB LaJarius Sneed, due to the recent murder of his brother.
Much of the media coverage surrounding this game is about the matchup between ultra-talented QBs Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. Both have strong supporting casts. In the case of the Bolts, COVID has provided a gift, as WR Keenan Allen will play tonight, making him the most-rested star in the game after missing Sunday's game due to COVID.
One of the keys to KC's defensive resurgence has been its ability to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Without Jones, their most disruptive player, Justin Herbert will likely have an easier time going through his progressions in order to make good choices. KC will need a strong effort from its offense, something they haven't been able to rely on consistently.
Regardless of who's playing, how hurt they are, and how tired, this is still an important game. In a game with these challenges, it's up to the coaches and players to adjust to what's not available, and make due with the rest.
Winner: Los Angeles